What is the new Android L and who can use it

Android L is Google's latest innovation for mobile devices: space optimization, multitasking and more compatibility in a single "feature drop"

With devices with increasingly large screens, such as tablets, Chromebooks and the newest foldable smartphones, Android is starting to feel a little tight for users. That's why Google has just unveiled Android 12L, where the L stands for "Large". It's not exactly a new operating system, but for users it almost will be.

Android L, in fact, was created to solve the main problems of android on large screen devices. The first one, of course, is the high amount of wasted space when running apps programmed to run on smartphones (in portrait and on large but not very large screens). The second is compatibility: sometimes graphics are moved incorrectly because the app expects a smaller screen. The third is multitasking, which is the ability to use multiple apps simultaneously on the same screen. Here's how Android L solves these three problems.

Android L, how it works

Let's start with multitasking, which is one of the most requested features by those who buy a device with a large touch screen. Today, many smartphones allow you to use two apps at once: one is placed on top and one on the bottom.

This way you get two apps both shown horizontally, which isn't natural since apps are designed to run vertically. Android 12L allows you to put two apps that run vertically side by side (split-screen), filling up the screen when the device is used horizontally.

Those who prefer to use only one app at a time even on large screens end up wasting a lot of space. That's why Android L lets you change the arrangement of elements in order to fill the screen and not waste a single pixel. This starts with the operating system, where for example the notifications curtain is split in two to occupy all the available space horizontally.

Finally, the compatibility issue: now the manufacturers of foldable smartphones and other large screen devices can customize the way the GUI components are arranged on the screen, in order to avoid overlapping icons or other problems.

Android 12L, when it arrives

As mentioned, Android L isn't really a new operating system: it's a "Feature Drop," a term by which Google means the release of specific features only on certain devices, usually its Pixel phones.

The feature drop will affect, at least initially, only devices running Android 12. It will also be up to the device manufacturer to implement some tricks to take advantage of it, while app developers will be tasked with using the new features to offer users a better experience on large and foldable screens.