the back of the pixel 5

Google finally revealed the big user-facing features of Android 12 at its developer-focused I/O event yesterday (May 19) and it’s clear that this is going to be a big year for the software.

There was a lot of impressive stuff demoed at the event, from the partnering of Google and Samsung to hopefully finally turn Wear OS into an Apple Watch rival, to some futuristic AI demos showing people talking to Pluto – yes, the planet.

But, for a phone nerd like me, the highlight was always going to be Android 12 and Google most certainly delivered.

I’m not going to go much into the actual features of the software here (check out our Android 12 features guide for the full rundown), instead it’s the whole new Material You aesthetic that really caught my attention.

Android 12
A general overview of Material You and Android 12

Material You takes elements from your wallpaper and spreads those colours across the entire system, giving everything from the updated notification panel to Google’s own apps a more unique feel. The update is full of new, subtle animations and little tweaks – like the huge lock screen clock – that catch the eye.

The Pixel 6 could tie into this new design perfectly

This new look has been revealed just a few days after the big leaks that showed renders of the upcoming Pixel 6 – a phone that bucks the trend of basic designs that Google has been relying on heavily in recent years.

The Pixel 6 leaks, which of course might be way off the mark and nothing is official yet, show a phone that’s bold, with a wildly unique camera module and colour options that are smart and tasteful.

Could the Pixel 6 look like this?

Basically, the Pixel 6 leaks show a device about as far from the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 as possible. While these are two great phones, they are dull to look at. Rounded designs, minimal colour options and none of the standout flourishes that make up the Pixel 6 renders.

After seeing what Google has in store for Android 12, I really do hope these leaks show us a device that we actually get. The software looks like it will fit perfectly, giving Goole’s Pixel phone some much-needed personality. This is something Google really needs to go big on, especially if it wants its own brand phones to be able to compete with the like of Samsung, Xiaomi and others.

Pixel phones in the past have felt functional, rather than exciting. They’ve been canvases for the new features coming in Android.

This could also be a huge year for the Pixel phone in another way. Rumours are suggesting it’ll ditch a Qualcomm chipset for one designed by Google, possibly in partnership with Samsung. Codenamed Whitechapel, this new system on chip (SoC) could give the Pixel some new features and another unique selling point.

Pixel phones in the past have felt functional, rather than exciting. They’ve been canvases for the new features coming in Android and a great camera, but they’ve never quite been much more.

With the visual changes in Android 12, and the possibility of a Pixel phone with a standout look, this could finally be the year the latest Pixel phone becomes the best Android phone.

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