Migrating apps to Android 12

This article offers a high-level view of typical development and testing phases that can help you make a plan for readiness that's well-aligned with the platform release timeline and ensures a great experience for your users on Android 12.

With each release of Android, we introduce new features as well as behavior changes aimed at making Android more helpful, more secure, and more performant. In many cases your app will work exactly as expected out-of-the-box, while in other cases you might need make to update your app to adapt to the platform changes.

Users can start receiving the new platform as soon as the source code is released to AOSP (Android Open Source Platform), so it's important for your apps to be ready, performing as expected for users and ideally taking advantage of new features and APIs to get the most out of the new platform.

A typical migration has two phases, which can be concurrent:

  • Ensuring app compatibility (by Android 12 final release)
  • Targeting the new platform features and APIs (as soon as possible after final release)

Ensure compatibility with Android 12

It's important to test the functionality of your existing app against Android 12 to ensure a great experience for users updating to the latest version of Android. Some platform changes can affect the way your app behaves, so it's important to test early and thoroughly and make any needed adjustments to your app.

You can usually adjust your app and publish an update without needing to change the app's targetSdkVersion. Similarly, you should not need to use new APIs or change the app's compileSdkVersion, although this can depend on the way your app is built and the platform functionality it's using.

Before you start testing, be sure to familiarize yourself with the behavior changes that affect all apps. These changes might affect your app, even if you don't change its targetSdkVersion.

Get Android 12

Flash an Android 12 system image to your device, or download a system image for the Android emulator.

Review changes

Review system behavior changes to identify areas where your app might be affected.

Test

Install your app on your device or emulator, and run tests. Focus on system behavior changes, and work through all app flows.

Update

Make only the code changes required to adapt to behavior changes or resolve issues. Recompile with the same API level that your app originally targeted - no need to target Android 12.

Publish

Sign, upload, and publish your updated Android App Bundle or APK.

Perform compatibility testing

For the most part, testing compatibility with Android 12 is similar to ordinary app testing. This is a good time to review the core app quality guidelines and best practices for testing.

To test, install your current published app on a device running Android 12, and work through all the flows and functionality while looking for issues. To help you focus your testing, review the behavior changes introduced in Android 12 that can affect how your app functions or cause the app to crash.

Also make sure to review and test for uses of restricted non-SDK interfaces. You should replace any restricted interface your app uses with a public SDK or NDK equivalent. Watch for logcat warnings that highlight these accesses, and use the StrictMode method detectNonSdkApiUsage() to catch them programmatically.

Last, make sure to fully test the libraries and SDKs in your app to make sure they work as expected on Android 12 and follow best practices for privacy, performance, UX, data handling, and permissions. If you find an issue, try updating to the latest version of the SDK, or reach out to the SDK developer for help.

When you’ve finished your testing and made any updates, we recommend publishing your compatible app right away. This lets your users test the app early and helps ensure a smooth transition for your users as they update to Android 12.

Update the app's targeting and build with new APIs

Once you've published a compatible version of your app, the next step is to add full support for Android 12 by updating its targetSdkVersion and taking advantage of new APIs and capabilities in Android 12. You can make these updates as soon as you're ready, keeping in mind the Google Play requirements for targeting the new platform.

As you plan your work to fully support Android 12, review the behavior changes that affect apps targeting Android 12. These targeted behavior changes might cause functional issues you then need to address. In some cases, these changes require significant development, so we recommend learning about and addressing them as early as possible. To help identify specific behavior changes that affect your app, use the compatibility toggles to test your app with selected changes enabled.

Below are the steps to fully support Android 12.

Get Android 12 SDK

Install the latest version of Android Studio preview to build with Android 12. Make sure you have an Android 12 device or emulator.
Update your targetSdkVersion and other build configurations.

Review behavior changes

Review the behavior changes that apply to apps targeting Android 12. Identify areas where your app might be affected, and plan how to support them.

Check against new privacy changes

Make code and architecture changes needed to support Android 12's user privacy changes.

Adopt Android 12 features

Take advantage of Android 12 APIs to bring new features and capabilities to your apps. Recompile for Android 12.

Test

Test on an Android 12 device or emulator. Focus on areas where behavior changes might affect your app. Try out functionality that uses new APIs. Provide platform and API feedback. Report any platform, API, or third-party SDK issues.

Final update

Once Android 12 APIs are final, update your targetSdkVersion and other build configurations again, make any additional updates, and test your app.

Publish

Sign, upload, and publish your updated Android App Bundle or APK.

Get the SDK, change targeting, build with new APIs

To start testing for full Android 12 support, use the latest preview version of Android Studio to download the Android 12 SDK and any other tools you need. Next, update your app's targetSdkVersion and compileSdkVersion, and re-compile the app. See the SDK setup guide for details.

Test your Android 12 app

Once you've compiled the app and installed it on a device running Android 12, begin testing to ensure that the app works properly when targeting Android 12. Some behavior changes apply only when your app is targeting the new platform, so you'll want to review those changes before getting started.

As with basic compatibility testing, work through all the flows and functionality looking for issues. Focus your testing on the behavior changes for apps targeting Android 12. It's also a good time to check your app against the core app quality guidelines and best practices for testing.

Make sure to review and test for uses of restricted non-SDK interfaces that may apply. Watch for logcat warnings that highlight these accesses and use the StrictMode method detectNonSdkApiUsage() to catch them programmatically.

Last, make sure to fully test the libraries and SDKs in your app to make sure they work as expected on Android 12 and follow best practices for privacy, performance, UX, data handling, and permissions. If you find an issue, try updating to the latest version of the SDK, or reach out to the SDK developer for help.

Test using app compatibility toggles

Android 12 introduces a new feature for developers that makes it easier to test your app with targeted behavior changes. For a debuggable app, the toggles let you:

  • Test targeted changes without actually changing the app's targetSdkVersion. You can use the toggles to force-enable specific targeted behavior changes to evaluate the impact on your existing app.
  • Focus your testing on specific changes only. Rather than having to address all targeted changes at once, the toggles let you disable all targeted changes except the ones you want to test against.
  • Manage toggles through adb. You can use adb commands to enable and disable the toggleable changes in your automated test environment.
  • Debug faster using standard change IDs. Toggleable changes each have a unique ID and name that you can use to quickly debug root cause in log output.

As you prepare for changing your app's targeting, or while you in active development for Android 12 support, the toggles can help. For more information , see Compatibility framework changes (Android 12).