Trinity Engine? HyperBoost? Fluid Cloud? It's not a fifth Matrix movie — it's an OS update
Although we're still counting the minutes until Google launches a stable build of Android 14, other OEMs aren't waiting for an official release to show off their own customizations. We've already seen what Samsung's bringing to the table with One UI, and today, it's time for OnePlus to show off what OxygenOS 14 looks like. Unsurprisingly, its software is more influenced by Oppo than ever before, and anyone hoping for that to change with this year's upgrade might need to look elsewhere for their smartphone needs.
Have you been on board since the beginning or are you a fairly recent adopter?
Time flies when you're having fun, and you can't say the last fifteen years haven't been fun. This weekend — literally today, actually, if you're reading this when it's scheduled to go live — the T-Mobile G1 turns 15 years old, marking another big milestone in the history of Android. We've got a big, fun retrospective live on the site right now (also written by yours truly), but timed with this anniversary, I thought it'd be fun to ask just how long our readers have been using Google's mobile OS.
The floating search bar is similar to Android 13's but more accessible
There’s something charming about Google's ongoing Pixel changelog. Users know that getting a Pixel smartphone means getting the latest Android features first, and that happens even more frequently now thanks to quarterly Pixel Feature Drops. In a fast-paced tech world, the excitement around a new smartphone quickly wanes. But the Pixel’s three-month Feature Drop cadence keeps your smartphone fresh, updated, and more helpful. On that last point, it appears that December's Feature Drop will bring some improvements to the Google Search bar.
The easiest way to keep your Chromebook up-to-date
Staying on top of software updates keeps your Chromebook running efficiently and securely. Typically, you don't have to manually install updates on a Chromebook. Google ships ChromeOS updates and security patches frequently, and they typically download and install in the background. If you've noticed your laptop is running more slowly than normal, its worth a quick check to make sure your computer is up to date. If a missing update or ChromeOS Powerwash fails to help, it may be time to to upgrade to a a high-end Chromebook.
There are a lot of new features in Android 14's first QPR beta release
Google is yet to release Android 14 for compatible Pixels, possibly due to a last-minute issue. The OS should be released alongside the Pixel 8 series in early October. Ahead of that, though, Google has dropped the first Android 14 QPR Beta build, which will eventually go live as the December 2023 Pixel Feature Drop. The first Android 14 QPR Beta packs several changes and builds on all the new features in Android 14 to deliver a better user experience. Below is everything new in Android 14 QPR Beta 1 that we have discovered so far.
December's Pixel Feature Drop could resurrect the feature popularized by iPhones recently
Way back in the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich days, you used to be able to add widgets onto your phone’s lock screen. What feels like a wild concept in recent times used to be the norm across Android smartphones, but unfortunately, Google removed the feature from AOSP sometime afterward. Over the last year, however, the ability to put widgets on your phone’s lock screen has entered into a bit of a renaissance after Apple added the function with iOS 16 in September 2022 (we totally weren’t jealous or anything like that). In August, Samsung enabled similar functionality with its LockStar Good Lock module, and although it’s a bit glitchy, it shows a proof of concept on Android for a return of the much loved feature. Google may be giving us reason to celebrate, as code in Android 14’s first QPR1 beta points to its return.
Android 14 QPR1 beta hints at a Repair Mode for Pixel phones
Samsung offers a handy Maintenance mode on the best Galaxy phones. The feature ensures you don't have to factory reset your phone before submitting it for repair. Instead, all your data is safely locked, and the device enters a special Maintenance mode where Samsung technicians can do all their testing and run any diagnostic apps or tools as required. Taking a cue from Samsung, Google plans to introduce a similar mode to Pixel phones with the upcoming Android 14 QPR1 release.
Google's new OS version isn't out yet, but its next quarterly release is already in testing
Most Pixel users expected to be on Android 14 by now, but things don't always work out as we'd like. It seems Google will delay the release of its next major OS upgrade until October, when in past years we've seen the new version by August. But that hasn't stopped the company from pushing forward on its next major beta program, and now, Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 is here.
Some phones get a royal Android treat while others are left with a sub-par software diet plan
Your phone can have the highest-end features possible, but it leaves much to be desired if it doesn't run the latest software. Software updates are one aspect where iPhones have always trumped Android, with iOS devices being supported for as long as seven or eight years on average. For a long time, Android manufacturers only guaranteed two to three OS updates.
Experience that strange mix of excitement and frustration that comes with moving your data to a new phone
Do you have one of our favorite foldable phones? Or a new budget Android phone? Irrespective of how many phones you have used so far, nothing beats the joy of setting up a new phone. You might dread the initial setup process. However, if done right, you can have your phone set up and ready to use within a few minutes. Here's how to set up your new Android phone.
Samsung has begun the rollout from its home market
Android 14 for the Google Pixel 7 series and other Google phones is just around the corner. But that doesn’t mean Samsung phones are too behind the curve, as the company is working on bringing the latest Android version topped with its own One UI flavor to the recent Galaxy flagships. While the Samsung Galaxy S23 series has already received a couple of beta builds, the two-year-old Galaxy S21 series is now picking up its first One UI 6 beta.
Try out the newest Chromebook features early
Chromebooks are capable and easy-to-use devices that run Linux-based ChromeOS on the software front. The best Chromebooks offer premium builds and receive operating system (OS) updates for many years. Chromebook updates are mainly released in Stable, Beta, and Developer channels. You can switch between these channels to access the newest features while they're being finalized. However, each channel offers a different mix of new features and stability. This guide details the ChromeOS channels available to you and how you can try them out.
Apple's watchOS covers all the software that powers the Apple Watch: Here's what's going on
As of Fall 2023, Apple is on the 9th generation of its Apple Watch (and has introduced another Apple Watch Ultra model, continuing its more-or-less unchallenged reign as the high-end smartwatch maker. If you want a watch that instantly measures your altitude while calculating your blood-oxygen levels and playing your favorite songs, the latest Apple Watch Series offers functionality you can't get elsewhere.
Two Google reviewers must sign off on these types of contributions
Most of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is licensed under Apache 2.0, which means that anyone can modify its code. It’s this type of model that also allows AOSP to grow through internal and external contributions alike. Google has developed a guide to help people understand how to contribute code to AOSP, and it’s even used some of this content to build new features. However, one drawback to this approach is simultaneously giving bad actors an easy way to thwart the entire system. In response to security concerns, Google is increasing its scrutiny of external contributions.
The dashboard gives Chromebook users in-game tools, such as key remapping
If you have an Android phone and you enjoy gaming on the go, you may already be familiar with the Game Dashboard. After seeing OEMs like Samsung and OnePlus implement game modes, Google decided to release its own version of the popular feature with Android 12, providing easy access to a wide array of tools that might come in handy while gaming. You can take screenshots, record gameplay, and make key mapping adjustments directly in the dashboard. More importantly, Game Dashboard lets you quickly toggle between your game and other apps on your device. Now, it seems that Google wants to bring this experience to ChromeOS users.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Flip 5 are first in line
Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series are flagships in the truest sense, and deserve a spot on our list of the best Android phones. However, they stick to the conventional definition of a glass sandwich smartphone, with most of the innovation on display in the Galaxy Z series comprising the Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5. Since these are the latest flagship models, Samsung puts them higher on its priority list of software updates. A recent report suggests the South Korean company could make the latest One UI 6 beta available to the Z Fold 5 and Flip 5 sometime this week.
Android 13 gets one last hurrah on Pixel phones
When Google launched its Android 14 beta program back in February, we figured the new version would be sent out to ordinary users sometime in August — after all, Android 13 officially debuted on August 15, 2022. And when August came and went, we were all but certain the new OS would be ready in September — that is, until we heard rumors it would be delayed until the first week of October. Now, those rumors are all but confirmed, as Google's September monthly security update is here, and it's still based on Android 13.
iOS 17 is live in stable, and Android 14 should follow suit soon
While Google is still busy testing Android 14 as a beta, Apple went ahead and launched this year's big mobile release for everyone: iOS 17. The two mobile releases are the biggest updates coming to your favorite phones this year, so it makes sense to look at them side-by-side to compare what the theme is for each of them and what exactly one does better than the other.
It is time you take some steps to reduce the notification clutter on your Android phone
It's no secret that Android's handling of notifications is light-years ahead of the competition (looking at you, iOS). But it doesn't matter how well your amazing Android phone handles notifications if you're bombarded by hundreds of them all day. Notification overload is a real thing as apps fight for your attention. Android comes with built-in ways to customize your notifications the way you want. Follow these steps to create the perfect notification environment for your peace of mind.
Dyslexia affects millions of people, and it's time Android started to help
Depending on which medical institution you ask, dyslexia affects 10–20% of the population. Despite being discovered in 1877, then known as word blindness, the condition is still largely misunderstood and difficult to treat. Accessibility has been a major focus in the mobile space in recent years, rightly so, with important features like Live Caption and more. But there’s one feature missing in the mobile space, and that’s the use of a dyslexic font, something Android phones should adopt as soon as possible.