The first public beta for Android 12 was released earlier this week, and hidden in the code are some significant clues that may have just revealed Google’s plans for all the new Pixel phones coming in 2021, including a potential foldable Pixel.
Discovered by 9to5Google, Google has included snippets of code in the Android 12 beta that reveal both the name and model numbers of what look to be the Japanese versions of upcoming Pixel devices.
The four most important devices mentioned in the code are:
- Barbet (model number G4S1M): said to be the codename for the Pixel 5a 5G
- Oriole (model number GR1YH): one of two members of the Pixel 6 line
- Raven (model number GF5KQ): a second Pixel 6
- Passport (model number GPQ72): what could be Google’s rumoured foldable Pixel
Previously, many people in the industry were expecting to see Google announce the Pixel 5a 5G at Google I/O, though with the last day of Google I/O happening today, it looks like we may have to wait a bit longer for its official debut.
The mention of two versions of the Pixel 6 is somewhat interesting, because Google only released a single model of the Pixel 5 last year. The company opted to release a larger version of the Pixel 4a 5G instead. This suggests that this year Google may be returning to normal with a regular and XL-sized flagship smartphone sometime this spring.
However, the Passport is the most intriguing and mysterious device of them all, as it could be Google’s first attempt at making a device with a flexible screen. Rumours about a foldable Pixel have started surfacing over the last month or so, but up until now, details have been incredibly sparse. There’s still a good chance Passport could get delayed until 2022 or even cancelled.
But with Google already having added a number of features and dev tools to the Android 12 beta to help support foldable devices, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google release their own take on a foldable phone — especially after Samsung has hogged the foldable spotlight for years with multiple generations of its Z Flip and Z Fold devices.
The pandemic caused numerous supply issues last year that made pushing out new gadgets unusually difficult for device makers, which resulted in a somewhat less exciting slate of releases from Google. But now with more experience and time to sort out potential issues and Google CEO Sundar Pichai teasing “significant product updates” coming in 2021, this year is shaping up to be a big year for Pixel devices.