The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Is Great, But Its Android 12L I Really Love

Android 12l Feature Coming To Older Galaxy Fold Gizchina Com
samsung galaxy z fold 4 standing multitasking

Ryan Haynes / Android Authority

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 isn't really a phone. This is not a tablet. It has a large tablet-like screen and a phone-level camera, but it's not quite aimed either way. Therefore, there is a need for software that sits outside the phone and tablet without going both ways. That's where Android 12L comes in. This is the kind of capability that Samsung's book-like foldable devices need, and it sets a new standard for user software.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review

Look at the taskbar

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 camera interface on Android 12L

Ryan Haynes / Android Authority

On the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Android 12L is turned on and off from the sub-taskbar. OK, maybe not that dramatic, but it helps make the 7.6-inch screen more usable. It plays the same role as the taskbar on a Mac or PC, preventing you from doing yoga instead of resting the mouse cursor.

Not only is the taskbar easily accessible, it offers you virtual multitasking. In addition to some of your personal favorites to ease the transition from one focus to another, they are essential tools for everyday use. Once you switch to multitasking, you'll start to see some of your shortcut combinations appear on the right side of the taskbar. One of them is a combination of Chrome and Google Maps – the perfect combination for navigating a restaurant and reading menus at the same time.

The Android 12L taskbar gives you more options and a break from painful thumb yoga.

If you can't find what you're looking for, you can left-click the rest of the apps. It took me a minute to realize that the nine-dot icon was a shortcut to the app drawer, but now I don't use much of anything. The in-app app drawer is cut down a bit compared to the full-screen version and doesn't require you to go back to the home screen to get there. Yes, it's just as easy to open a second app and make it multitask.

Screenshot 20220916 073010 YouTube

Ryan Haynes / Android Authority

Access the app drawer from the taskbar

Perhaps the most ingenious part of the Android 12L taskbar is knowing when to leave it and when to push it aside (pun intended). It disappears when you close the home screen and immerse yourself in a video or a full-screen game like Asphalt 9. Even if you can't see it, just swipe up on the taskbar - don't start from the bottom of the screen. otherwise you will be returned to the main screen.

Learn more: Here are the best foldable phones you can buy right now

Layout, layout, layout

samsung galaxy z fold 4 youtube multitasking

Ryan Haynes / Android Authority

Running two apps at the same time is nothing new - at least on Android. However, it's rarely as intuitive as the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Splitting the big screen into two or three neat blocks doesn't come close to splitting Samsung's next-biggest display, the Galaxy S22 Ultra, in half.

With multitasking in Android 12L, you also have full control over splitting your apps vertically or horizontally. I prefer to stack windows because it's easier to slide both windows at once, but the choice is yours.

Two apps, three apps, vertical, horizontal, (almost) unlimited plans.

There's also a healthy love of layout in Samsung's first apps. For example, the camera app looks almost cute when the entire view is in the viewfinder. However, it offers additional settings like gallery mode and cover preview to optimize the foldable form factor. Gallery mode pops up a panel on the left side of the inner screen to show you some of the latest photos and videos you've taken, while cover view does exactly what it says on the outer screen.

The original dialer also had fun collecting a sort of phone book. The Contacts tab shows your entire contact list on the left side of the flip, and when you click on a name, it opens detailed information on the right side. The Recents tab has a similar layout, although the keyboard here is huge. YouTube is one of the few third-party apps that fully supports custom layouts, but it's still a work in progress, as I'll explain below.

Not all Samsung apps follow the Android 12L customization trend, and some ignore multi-window support altogether. For example, Samsung Wallet is all or nothing when it comes to screen access. This might be fine if you just use the app for mobile payments, but not so convenient if you want to track your finances while shopping online.

Read more: With Android 12L, Google should lead by example

Some wrinkles still need to be ironed out

Youtube on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Android 12L

Ryan Haynes / Android Authority

Android 12L will never be perfect. This solution is optimized as a software solution for tablets, Chromebooks and PCs. These three types of devices are very different in terms of size, shape and usage, so optimizing apps for tablets is not the same as optimizing them for the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

For example, the opening of a YouTube video can have several layouts. Works great with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in full open, landscape or portrait mode, full screen or not. However, as soon as you try to watch a video in full screen mode with the screen partially folded, you will encounter the horror described above. Instead of zooming in and scrolling up or down, the video stays in the middle where you only see half of what you see. Ignore the thick black bars - although that has more to do with the square aspect ratio than Android 12L.

Google may be the mastermind behind Android 12L, but optimizing it for YouTube can be a headache at times.

Another problem is that some apps completely skip optimization for Android 12L. Instagram is a great punching bag for large-screen devices because it simply refuses to play games. It's not available for the iPad or Galaxy Tab, and its approach to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is kind of "here's a regular smartphone app, deal with it." Instagram doesn't even bother to fill Samsung's premium foldable screen, which is rendered as a window that slides left or right for easy scrolling. Again, it's not Android 12L's fault, but the layout issues become a usability headache, especially when developers don't try to adapt.

Despite the unique design, Android 12L is the Galaxy Z Fold 4's biggest step in the right direction. Fortunately, Google has promised to continue developing the software while Samsung pushes higher-end devices, so there's hope that some bugs will be ironed out. Finally, the app brought me back to the phone, and every fiber of my being wanted to believe it was huge. My fiber is undeniable. It's a giant, but a giant that proves itself on the busiest days.

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Galaxy Z Fold 4 starts with OneUI 4.1.1/Android 12L