Android 12L holds the key to Google Pixel Fold’s release date

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Android 12L holds the key to Google Pixel Fold’s release date
Image courtesy of LetsGoDigital

That’s it - the Pixel Fall Launch event is now in the annals of history, and even though we finally saw the Pixel 6 series in all its glory, the mysterious Pixel Fold was nowhere to be found. What happened to the foldable and when will we see it? The answer may lie in the upcoming Android 12L operating system.

What is Android 12L?

At the end of last month, Google officially announced Android 12L as a developer preview version. The “L” in the name stands for “Large”, and as Google points out in its official press release: "There are over a quarter billion large screen devices running Android across tablets, foldables, and ChromeOS devices. In just the last 12 months we’ve seen nearly 100 million new Android tablet activations—a 20% YoY growth, while ChromeOS, now the fastest-growing desktop platform, grew by 92%."

Google has tweaked Android 12 to better suit large screens, and there are tiny improvements all around. There’s a new two-column layout across various UI elements such as the notification shade, lock screen, and other system surfaces. There’s a taskbar at the bottom of the screen that can automatically switch to 'favorite apps.' And entering split-screen mode has been made extremely easy.

The Pixel Fold connection

It’s been a while since Google released a dedicated Android version for tablets - actually, it’s been exactly ten years now since Android 3.0 Honeycomb hit tablets back in 2011. So, what’s going on here? It’s true that phones are getting bigger and bigger but it’s also true that this has been the case for quite some time.

Phones with 6+ (and even 7-inch displays) have been around for more than 5 years now, and it’s plain to see that Google has something else in mind. And actually, it’s right there in the official press release:

"We’ve also seen Foldable devices on the rise, with year on year growth of over 265%! All told, there are over 250 million active large screen devices running Android. With all of the momentum, we’re continuing to invest in making Android an even better OS on these devices, for users and developers."

Google says that it will release the final version of Android 12L "early next year, in time for the next wave of Android 12 tablets and foldables...We’re also offering the features to our OEM partners to bring to their existing large screen devices."

And there it is - your Pixel Fold launch window! According to the official timeline of the Android 12L, the first public beta will be released sometime in December, while the stable version will hit “large-screen” devices in March 2022.

Google Pixel Fold release date

We’re speculating here, of course, but what better way to launch its new foldable-oriented operating system than to add the perfect hardware to accompany it. Or the other way around. We saw the hype around the Pixel 6 series, and Android 12 helped a lot - you know, with Material You, and all the little features that were conveniently tied to the Pixel 6 at launch.

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Google might be planning something similar with the Pixel Fold - it’s safe to assume that if the company wants to launch a foldable phone, it might want to tie it with its operating system designed specifically for foldables.

It’s March 2022 then, right? Most likely. The only big competitor doing phone launches in March is OnePlus, and the company has steered clear of the foldable hype, even trolling Samsung days before the launch of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3.

Pixel Fold teaser is coming

Another thing that's almost certain is that Google will showcase the Fold the minute it’s ready and there’s a firm timeline for its launch. It’s a well-established launch model for the company, and after the successful launch of the Pixel 6, Google will surely mimic the same tactics with the Pixel Fold.

If we take a step back and look at the four beta releases for the Android 12L, we might get the potential time window for such a teaser. Those four beta releases will take place in December, January, and February, and we might see the Pixel Fold for the first time in one of these months.

We know, this is far from specific, especially when these are literally the only three months before the rumored launch in March, but still - stay on alert and watch the online space, the Pixel Fold is lurking in the shadows.

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