- Android 14 is Google's big new Android release, slated to ship on all the latest and greatest smartphones later this year.
- The new OS version brings choice improvements, like predictive back gestures, custom lock screen clocks, more private PIN entry options, improved Material You theming, and many more minor tweaks.
- The beta program for Android 14 is limited to Google Pixel devices and a few choice other hardware partners.
Google surprised everyone in August with a fifth Android 14 beta release, with the company initially only planning to release four major betas until the stable launch. Given the big amount of bug fixes in the release notes of this new beta and two more subsequent minor releases, it's likely that Google ran into more issues than expected, with the stable launch potentially pushed back a little bit. While we all wait for the big new update to drop on all of the best phones out there, you can still learn about what's going to come and what you can expect. Read on to find out more.
Android 14 timeline, potential release date, and supported devices
Android 14 follows a similar roadmap as previous releases. As you can see in the timeline shared by Google below, we're looking at two developer previews, with the first released in February and the second released in March. On April 12, Google released the first beta, with a follow-up Beta 1.1 release just two weeks later. Historically, the company has always held back some of the most interesting consumer-facing changes for the release that ties in with its developer conference on May 10, Google I/O, which was indeed the case. There were a handful of announcements on stage, detailing some exciting new things coming to Android 14. There were also some bug-fixing releases in the meantime, like Beta 2.1 on May 25 and Beta 4.1 on July 26, 2023.
In June, the roadmap shows that Android 14 reached platform stability with the third beta. This means that developers can update their apps with the new features and APIs introduced in Android 14 without having to worry about any further changes ahead of the release. A fourth beta arrived in July, and we got a surprise Beta 5 on August 10, 2023 with two point releases following quickly after. Google updated its timeline accordingly, which is why you can see this previously unplanned release in the graph above.
As for compatibility, the following Google Pixel devices are compatible with the beta program:
- Pixel Tablet
- Pixel Fold
- Pixel 7a
- Pixel 7 & 7 Pro
- Pixel 6a
- Pixel 6 & 6 Pro
- Pixel 5a 5G
- Pixel 5
- Pixel 4a 5G
The recently released Google Pixel 7a, Pixel Tablet, and Pixel Fold are part of the beta program as of Android 14 Beta 3 for the former and Beta 4 for the last two. On the other end of the lineup, the Google Pixel 4a without the 5G denominator isn't getting any beta releases. Since it launched with Android 10, it isn't guaranteed to get any update beyond Android 13 as per Google's promise of three software upgrades, and it doesn't look like it will get Android 14.
As usually, the developer preview and initial beta builds were restricted to the Google Pixel phone lineup. More phones from other manufacturers joined the beta program after Google I/O, like it has been the case for the last few Android releases. These are the devices that you can currently get the Android 14 Beta on, though based on our hands-on experience with them, you're better off not installing Android 14 on them until it's more stable:
- iQOO 11
- Lenovo Tab Extreme
- Nothing Phone 1
- OnePlus 11
- Oppo Find N2 Flip
- Realme GT2 Pro
- Tecno Camon 20 Series
- Vivo X90 Pro
- Xiaomi 13 Pro
- Xiaomi 13
- Xiaomi 12
Google has also released generic system images (GSIs), which you can install on any phone that supports Project Treble. Be sure you know exactly how to install an Android beta before you consider that route, though.
After beta testing commences, we expect Android 14 to become available on all recent Android phones and the flagship phones from the last few years. The rollout may take longer than a few months, depending on your manufacturer. Samsung's phones are usually updated pretty quickly, within a few months after the stable release, but the same can't be said for Asus, Motorola, and more.
What's new in Android 14 Beta 5
Google's surprise Beta 5, released almost exactly one month after Beta 4 on August 10, is here with a ton of last-minute bug fixes ahead of the stable release. It was quickly followed by Beta 5.1 on August 18 and Beta 5.2 on August 25. All three releases haven't brought any big changes — instead, they're concerned with fixing last minute bugs, which is direly needed given that Google's Android 14 beta program felt a lot less stable than other before it. Beta 5.2 is almost exclusively concerned with fixes for the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet.
There aren't many real user-facing changes left in these versions, but let's dive into the two bigger ones that were spotted.
Android 14 already loses one of its new lock screen clock faces
Say farewell to this Android 14 clock face
After Samsung and Apple introduced extensive theming options for their phones' lock screens, it was high time for Google to follow suit. The company introduced some quirky new clock faces for Pixels' lock screens, but with Beta 5, the Google phones are already losing one of the new options. Specifically, the clock in a handwritten style has been removed, leaving only seven distinct styles. Google has given no explanation for this move.
Android 14's predictive back gestures may not be ready for tablets
Google has been working on predictive back gestures since Android 13, and they're supposed to launch in stable on Android 14. However, it looks like they're not ready for prime time on tablets just yet. A Pixel Tablet user reached out to Mishaal Rahman to showcase some jankiness with predictive back gestures on Beta 5, with activities disappearing into the void when it's activated and used.
What's new in Android 14 Beta 4
Google released Android 13 Beta 4 on July 11, right in the midst of Amazon's Prime Day shopping event. Barring any point releases for further bug fixes, this is supposed to be the last beta before Android 14 goes stable, likely in August or September the latest. The release was quickly followed by Beta 4.1 on July 26, which fixed a whole bunch of bugs. There is apparently still an issue with the share menu not appearing and the Phone app not logging calls, so Google still needs to get a few things in order before the stable release.
There are a few bigger tweaks that make the new version of the OS ready for prime time in Android 14 Beta 4 and 4.1, so let's dive right in.
Android 14's Easter egg is finally here
Every Android version has a little Easter egg hidden in system settings, and this is also true for Android 14. True to the Apollo 14-inspired logo for this release, the Easter egg has you launch a rocket, flying through the vast emptiness of space with the option to explore stars, planets, and more. It's a fun little mini-game that you should definitely try out when you can get your hands on Android 14.
Like in previous releases, you can access it by opening system settings and heading to About phone → Android version and repeatedly and quickly tapping the Android version entry. You then need to long-press the Android 14 logo for a while to launch the rocket, complete with haptic feedback.
Android 14 Beta 4 adds a new status bar icon for silent mode
Android 14 Beta 3 vs. Android 14 Beta 4
Google loves to switch up things in the status bar at the top of your phone's screen and in the notification shade with every new Android release, and the same is true for Android 14. Rather than a crossed out bell icon, you now see a crossed out speaker icon in the status bar when you turn on silent mode. This is in line with a previous tweak in Android 14, which made the same icon switch in the volume rocker interface.
Android 14 Beta 4 makes PIN entry slightly faster
Many Android phones support unlocking your device instantly when you enter the correct PIN without having to hit an extra enter button. Google is finally bringing this same capability to Pixel phones. When you have a PIN that has six digits or more, an option becomes available in system settings under Security & privacy → Device unlock → screen lock cog, making it possible to turn on Auto-confirm unlock. If you first set up a six-digit PIN, the option is ticked on by default, though you can uncheck it if you prefer not to show a thief how many digits your PIN has.
The auto-entry option will be enabld by default when you set up a new PIN
With the tweak enabled, you will see outlines on your PIN entry screen indicating how many digits you have to type, with the enter button gone in the keyboard. The outlines fill up as you hit the keys. When you enter a wrong digit on the last outline, the entry field will clear instantly and make you fully repeat your PIN.
Android 14 Beta 4 brings back a more familiar themed icon style
Android 14 Beta 3 vs. Android 14 Beta 4 (first pair dark, second pair light)
Android 13 Beta 3 made some tweaks to the way themed icons are displayed, using more of your themed color for the background than before. Many people didn't like how that reduced contrast in dark mode in particular, and with Beta 4, Google has further tweaked the design to make the icons more in line with their design in Android 13 again.
Android 14 adds new default profile images
If you share your device with multiple people (which might very well be the case for the Pixel Tablet, for example), you need to switch between different profiles. You can either use your own images to personalize them, or you can rely on Android 14's snazzy new collection of default images, first spotted by Mishaal Rahman.
Android 14 helps you find out when your phone was manufactured
A small but possibly welcome change in the settings app is related to the date when your phone was manufactured. As spotted by Mishaal Rahman, you can now see which year your phone was made under Settings → About phone → Model. This same detail is embedded in your device's serial number, which is also where the date is derived from, according to Mishaal Rahman.
Android 14 Beta 4 brings home screen customization to older Pixel phones
Home screen customization options like the ability to set different lock screen shortcuts or different clocks, were inexplicably missing from Pixel phones older than the Pixel 6. Android 14 Beta 4 changes that, with multiple owners confirming in Mishaal Rahman's Twitter thread that they now have the option to do just that.
What's new in Android 14 Beta 3
After a small bugfixing update in the form of Android 14 Beta 2.1 in late May, Google released Android 14 Beta 3 on June 7, 2023, well within its schedule. The new release adds a few of the announcements that Google made at its developer conference I/O 2023, but there are also a ton more interface changes and features to be found that Google hadn't talked about just yet.
Android 14 makes your lock screen customizable
Apple offers highly customizable lock screens on iOS 16, and it was clear that Google would have to provide an answer to this at some point. With Android 14, that's the case. In Android 14 Beta 3, the company makes it possible to switch out the default lock screen clock for a variety of different options. On top of that, you can choose a more complex interface that rearranges the other data on your lock screen like the current weather conditions and the date. Strangely enough, Mishaal Rahman reports that the customization options aren't available on the Pixle 4a 5G and Pixel 5. We can only hope that this is due to a bug.
With Android 14, it will also finally be possible to switch to different quick action buttons at the bottom if you don't care for home automatization or Google Wallet. You can decide whether you want to quickly access the QR code scanner, the flashlight, Do Not Disturb or Mute, photo or video camera, or nothing at all if you prefer a cleaner look. To trigger the actions, you now have to long-press the buttons, similar to how it's done on iOS. Speaking of similarities: You can access the customization options by long-pressing the home screen, which is also something that Apple added to its operating system a while ago.
Android 14 offers new gesture navigation tutorials
Gesture navigation is still new to many users, and the navigation system is only getting more complicated on the upcoming Google Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet with their taskbar. It's likely that the two additions to Google's lineup are the reason why the company decided to redo its gesture navigation tutorial on phones, which is now also accessible via system settings.
There is nothing astounding or groundbreaking about the new tutorials, but they are sure nice to look at, and it's good to have them in system settings in case you ever need a refresher.
Android 14 brings back the clock shortcut in the notification shade
Google likes to tweak the notification shade with each of its Android updates, and the same is true for Android 14. The company is turning the clock in the top left corner into a tappable section, allowing you to quickly jump into the Clock app without forcing you to clutter your home screen with yet another icon or widget. The functionality is coming and going in Android, and it was last removed in Android 12 after it was available on Pixel phones on Android 11.
Android 14 flips on Material Design 3 toggles
1st image: Android 14 Beta 2. 2nd: Android 14 Beta 3.
Material You is part of Material Design 3, which isn't only about colors and wallpaper-generated themes. The new iteration of Google's design language also adds tweaks to other interface elements, and among them is the trusty toggle. This new toggle design has made its way to the settings app with Android 14 Beta 3, completing the Material You look just a little more.
Android 14 Beta 3 changes Material You icons and color palette
Google isn't done tweaking Material You and themed icons. In a somewhat controversial move, the company made themed icons pull more intense colors with slightly less contrast between the foreground and background. Some colored interface elements also look different following the update, though the difference is harder to spot than the themed icons. It's possible that Google still reverses course on this as some beta testers have already provided negative feedback on this.
Android 14 adds a prominent charging indicator to the status bar
Android 14 Beta 3 introduces a new charging animation when you plug in your phone. It retains the particle animation of old, but it also adds a pill-shaped background behind the battery indicator, making it even clearer that your phone is getting juiced up. The new design should make it easier to see at a glance that you've properly plugged your device in and that it's charging. The look and feel is similar to how the camera and microphone usage indicators work.
Android 14 Beta 3 adds emoji wallpapers for some
During Google I/O, the company teased and demoed new customizable emoji wallpapers. On Android 14 Beta 3, these are live for some people. The Pixel Emoji Workshop, as it's officially called, is rolling out via a hidden app update from the Play Store. It allows you to create your own custom emoji wallpapers with different patterns, sizes, colors, and of course emoji available for you to play with.
Google has also added delightful animations when you unlock your phone, tap anywhere on the home screen, or when you plug in your phone to charge it. The company announced that emoji wallpapers would roll out to Pixel users in the summer, so it's likely coming to Android 13, too. We suspect that it might launch alongside the June Feature Drop which is still missing in action.
Android 14 will offer AI generated wallpapers — eventually
At Google I/O, the company announced that on Android 14, you will be able to use AI to generate wallpapers. That's on top of features like cinematic wallpapers (which are still missing) and emoji backgrounds.
The feature uses Google's text-to-image diffusion model, allowing you to create background art by simply stating what you would like to see and which style it should follow. This is probably the most prominent generative AI feature to come to Android itself yet, but it's still missing in action on Android 14 Beta 3.
Android 14 gets a more delightful user switching animation
With the Pixel Tablet coming soon, Google is apparently looking to improve the multi-user experience further. Once the Pixel Tablet gets its Android 14 update, it will also be able to take advantage of a new and delightful user switching animation, spotted via Mishaal Rahman. The new design adds a full screen animation of the profile image, with a cricle around it indicating a loading action. It's not a big tweak, but it will certainly make clearer when you switch between users.
Android 14 gets a new mouse cursor
As spotted by Tasker developer João Dias (via Mishaal Rahman), Android 14 Beta 3 has a new mouse pointer that looks a lot more modern and distinct compared to the current Mac-like version. The new look represents a triangle more than a pointer, though the design still makes obvious what purpose it serves. With Google's newfound interest in tablets and rumors of a Pro version of the Pixel Tablets floating around, it makes sense that it wants to polish productivity features like this.
Android 14 Beta 3 is getting ready to turn Health Connect into a system app
We've known for a while that Google wants to turn its Health Connect service into a system app for all Android releases. Health Connect offers a layer that allows fitness and health app to securely and privatly share data, making it easier to create interoperatable fitness services. One big step to make the system more reliable for developers is to have it preinstalled on all Android phones, and Android 14 is making a big step towards that. People who currently have Health Connect installed need a different version of the app, though, and so Beta 3 is adding a migration screen that makes it easy to migrate from one version to the other, which was spotted by Mishaal Rahman.
- The camera app works properly again in Beta 3 after some freezes and crashes in Beta 2.1 that would mostly occur when switching from the ultrawide to the primary.
- Android 14 Beta 3 adds a subtle change to the regular battery saving mode, dimming your wallpaper when you enter it. Previously, your wallpaper was only dimmed in bedtime mode or when using Extreme Battery Saver.
- Android 14 Beta 3 adds support for Google's new ANGLE layer. It's an open-source graphics engine abstraction layer. It's currently used by Google Chrome and other web browsers.
- Android 14 Beta 3 adds a few more toggles for Bluetooth stylus devices. When the stylus has a button, you can choose your preferred notes app (a default selection option that is yet to go live) or if Android should ignore all button presses on it.
What's new in Android 14 Beta 2
Following shortly after the announcements on stage at Google I/O, Android 14 Beta 2 was released during the conference. It's likely the biggest visual update as part of this preview program yet, with some new interface elements freshening up the experience. Here is everything that was found and spotted.
Android 14 can show your battery health
Batteries are the phone component that get the most wear, though manufacturers are combating the issue with smart charging and overheating protections. Some phones like Apple's iPhones also allow you to take a look at your battery's health, giving you a glimpse of how much of their original capacity they still offer. This same feature is coming to Android 14, with Google now offering system APIs that allow for determining the number of charge cycles your device went through and how much percent of its original capacity it still offers. You can get this data using a third-party app, but it's likely that Google will offer this data in system settings at some point.
Android 14 will only offer a handful of lock screen shortcuts
Google teased that it will be possible to replace the default wallet and smart home control shortcuts on the lock screen. However, you can't add just about any action. Android expert Mishaal Rahman found out that there is only a small list of supported actions:
- QR code scanner
- Video camera
- Do Not Disturb
- Device Controls
Visual tweaks galore
The Android 14 Developer Previews and the first beta were light on big visual tweaks, even though avid app sleuths discovered quite a few changes hiding in the code. Android 14 Beta 2 now makes a lot of these interface tweaks visible for everyone installing it, like small tweaks to the lock screen, a revamped battery saving mode toggle, some home screen pop-up changes, share sheet enhancements, a monochromatic theme, and more.
On top of this, Android 13 introduced a clipboard overlay that shows you the text you've added to your system clipboard right after hitting copy or cut, making it easy to tweak the text before pasting. When you copy something while your keyboard is open, this popup is taking up quite some space, though. Android 14 Beta 2 changes that with a new minimized clipboard overlay that shows up when you use the keyboard. It doesn't show you which text exactly you've copied, but you can tap it to expand it and interact with the copied values just as you usually would.
You can see all the visual tweaks we spotted in Android 14 Beta 2 in our dedicated coverage.
Android 14 supports dragging and dropping while switching apps
iOS has long allowed you to freely move across the operating system while you hold a drag-and-drop item with your free hand, and the same option is finally coming to Android with version 14. The feature works just like you would expect it to and makes it possible to hold some text or an image you want to move from one app to another while you navigate between apps.
Android 14 could get app pairs for either split-view multitasking
With Google launching a foldable of its own, the company is getting a few features meant for big screens ready for the Android 14 launch. In Beta 2, the company was spotted adding an option to save "app pairs" to the Recents screen. Even though it doesn't work right now, Mishaal Rahman suspects it will be possible to save a pair of two apps opened in split screen to the home screen or taskbar of the Google Pixel Fold — and maybe even some other Pixel phones.
Android 14 preps partial screen recordings
Screen recording is a neat feature to have, but it also has its issues. When you want to use it to showcase some features, you need to make sure to turn on Do Not Disturb or you might have some notifications flying in. Some other system UI features, like the current time and connection status, also aren't always necessary to have when you want to show a single app.
That's where Google's new partial screen recording comes in, and Mishaal Rahman was able to activate it ahead of time in Android 14 Beta 2. The option does just what the name suggests: It can record part of your screen, automatically omitting notifications, the status bar, and system navigation elements.
Android 14 is adding tons of keyboard shortcuts
With Google entering the tablet market again with its first-party Pixel Tablet, it's no surprise that the company is working on better keyboard shortcut support. Mishaal Rahman discovered a brand-new menu hiding in Android 14 Beta 2, showing a list of all the keyboard shortcuts that the new operating system supports. Overall, the list is much more comprehensive with more than 30 shortcuts, compared to only 13 on Android 13.
Android 14 can hide cloned apps from your work profile
Android 14 is prepping a native app cloning solution, which allows you to use apps like WhatsApp with multiple accounts. Android 14 Beta 2 adds some more progress here, and allows you to hide cloned apps from your work profile. This is useful since you might have a different set of logins for your work profile in the first place and might not even need a secondary app. There is still some more work left to do, as it's currently basically impossible to tell cloned apps and original apps apart.
Dedicated 2.4GHz toggle for Wi-Fi hotspot
Older devices often don't support 5GHz Wi-Fi, and that's a hassle when you use your phone as a hotspot. Many Android manufacturers have added a descriptive toggle or checkmark to turn on 2.4GHz on their phones' hotspots, but Google isn't among them. That might be changing in Android 14, as Mishaal Rahman spotted Google working on a new Speed & Compatibility section in settings that allows you to switch between 2.4, 5, and even 6GHz.
Android 14 will show you what apps use your location for
Apps access your location for a variety of reasons, and they sometimes even share your data with third parties. In an effort to make this practice more transparent, Google requires developers to declare in the Play Store whether they share data with others. This information will now surface when you grant an app the permission to access your location, with a disclaimer at the top warning you when the service in question may share your location. If an app changes its policy, you'll get an update in a notification, too.
Android 14 will support Ultra HDR for your photos and videos
In a blog post accompanying Google I/O, the company announced that you will be able to shoot and view images in Ultra HDR with a backwards-compatible format. This is supposed to give you crisper shadows and brighter colors at an "all-around amazing definition," all while you'll still be able to view content on older devices that don't support this HDR format.
Android 14 is getting a revamped contrast selector
Material You was developed with contrast and accessibility in mind, but for some, the colorful interface can still be too much. That's where a new contrast picker comes in, which is only available in the developer options in Android 14 Beta 2 for now, spotted by Mishaal Rahman. You can pick between Standard, Medium, and High.
Android 14 Beta 2 preps PIN auto confirmation
Google has been working on an option to automatically recognize when you've entered the correct PIN without hitting enter, and on Android 14 Beta 2, this is almost good to go. Mishaal Rahman found out that you simply need to use the device_config put auto_pin_confirmation AutoPinConfirmation__enable_auto_pin_confirmation true ADB command to enable the feature. The option isn't live by default, though.
Android 14 Beta 2 splits languages and input settings into two, lets you remap keyboard shortcuts
Android 13 (first image) vs. Android 14 (last three images)
No Android release would be complete without at least a minor change to system settings, and this is true for Android 14, too. The second beta splits the Languages & input settings under System, creating dedicated Languages and Keyboard categories, as Mishaal Rahman first saw. There is nothing really new here other than the more precise separation of settings related to languages and settings related to input. Rahman was first able to activate this in Android 14 Developer Preview 1, but it's only now live for everyone. You'll only notice a difference when you use a physical keyboard with your phone, as a new settings option shows up under Keyboard that lets you remap modifier keys. This was also hidden in previous versions of Android 14.
Android 14 Beta 2 lets you tweak your font size on the go
Android 14 introduced a new 200% zoom level for fonts, making it easier for those with visual impairments to view content on their devices. However, 200% might not always be practical, especially with apps that aren't optimized to work with such big font sizes. That's where a new quick settings toggle for the notification shade comes in with Android 14 Beta 2. The toggle opens a popup that lets you quickly adjust the font size on the go without ever having to dive deep into settings. The new toggle is automatically added to your notification shade when you first choose a zoom option for fonts.
What's new in Android 14 Beta 1
With Android 14 Beta 1, Google's updated OS is finally available for everyone with a Pixel phone, even those who don't want to go through the hassle of installing the developer preview. Google is light on new feature in this release. Instead, the company highlights a few features that were already available in Developer Preview 2. There are some more interesting chances spotted within the code, though.
Loyalty card suggestions based on location
Google Pay used to show you relevant loyalty cards based on your location, making it easy to pull up the right card at the right place. This was taken away with the Google Wallet rebranding, but it looks like Android 14 might offer an app-agnostic solution. Mishaal Rahman spotted strings that suggest Android 14 will show relevant loyalty cards from any payment app you've set as the default on your phone — even if that isn't Google Wallet.
Redesigned back arrow for gesture navigation
If you start your Android 14 journey with Beta 1, you'll notice that the back arrow now sits in a Material You-colored bubble. Some apps like Google News and settings also support predictive back animations, revealing which screen you'll get to next as you drag your finger across the screen. Both of these options were already live in Developer Preview 2, but they may be new to you when you upgrade just now. Google notes that it's improving both of these aspects, so bear with us while we dig into this release and find out what exactly has changed.
System share sheet with app actions
We already spotted Google's new system share sheet with app actions in Android 14 Developer Preview 2, but now the company is making this official. In Android 14, apps can add custom actions to the system share menu. This allows an application like Chrome to include custom sharing options like Send to your devices, QR code, or Copy link, omitting the need for a custom share sheet altogether.
Simpler per-app language setup for developers
Google used the Beta 1 launch to showcase a new Android Studio capability. Developers who use Google's development environment can now enjoy automatically generated language files required to make per-app languages work. Given how few apps support Android 13's per-app languages so far, this is a welcome improvement.
More security options to protect you from malware that abuses accessibility services
In Android 14, app developers can limit visibility of their apps to disability-focused accessibility services. This effectively blocks malware that uses accessibility services from snooping on private data in your password manager or your banking app. Only true accessibility apps screened by Play Protect and the Play Store can then access sensitive information protected by the new measure.
Forced transparent navigation bar
Hidden under developer options, Google has added a toggle that allows anyone to force a transparent nav bar in any app. This solves one of our longest standing issues with navigation on Android: inconsistencies between apps that haven't had specific color tuning from developers. There's always the chance this disappears before a final build, but it being hidden from most users seems like a positive sign that it could be here to stay.
Image permission changes
One of the biggest security features coming to Android 14 saw a couple of tweaks in Beta 1. Those image permission controls we spotted in DP2 are ever-so-slightly tweaked. The option to "Select Photos" is now "Select Photos and Videos" — which, frankly, does do a good job of alleviating some of the iOS comparisons — and places it on top... just like iOS. Ah well.
New PIN animations
Although it's disabled right now, Android 14 Beta 1 includes some swanky new lockscreen animations when typing your PIN. Rather than the numbers simply appearing, a new shape appears with each number, as spotted by Mishaal Rahman.
Tons of bugs
Unlike the fist Android 13 beta last year, Android 14 Beta 1 is riddled with bugs and broken bits and pieces. For example, if you had themed icons enabled before you updated, the wallpaper app will always crash when you try to open it. There are a few more issues in the release, and we've got a guide on how to fix the most egregious bugs without downgrading to Android 13.
What's new in Android 14 Developer Preview 2
With the release of Android 14's second developer preview, we're getting a more realized look into what's coming in this year's OS upgrade. This includes the arrival of some of the hidden features first spotted in DP1, which Google is now highlighting as official features in the DP2 announcement.
Regional per-app preferences
For example, the regional preferences page is here in DP2. Mishaal Rahman initially found this page hidden behind flags in February, but with this month's launch, we can see them in action. These settings are found right below the per-app language options in Android 14, and they will make it possible for you to set your units and number preferences. You can use it to switch individual apps between Celsius and Fahrenheit, use different calendars like Chinese, Dangi, or Hebrew, select which day of the week you consider the first, and which number system to use.
The original leaked screenshots for regional preferences from DP1
Revamped permission controls
We're also seeing the revamped permission control option for media files first alluded to in DP1. These settings are similar to how iOS works currently, forcing all apps not using Google's permissionless API to ask for your level of control options for media.
Preparations for a passwordless future, better battery life, non-dismissable notification improvements
Google's announcement for DP2 also focuses on improving the Credential Manager API it announced last month, which should help lead us to the passwordless future we all dream of. Meanwhile, DP2 continues to focus on improving system performance, forcing cached apps to stop running much faster than Android 13 could, which should provide better battery life and resource management. Non-dismissable notifications will also cause far less annoyances in the future, as you can now swipe anything flagged as an ongoing event away outside of critical tasks when your phone is unlocked.
This just covers what Google has formally announced, but there's more beyond this.
Predictive back gestures are live for some apps
Google has enabled predictive back gestures for the handful of apps that support them, like Google News and the system settings. When you enable predictive back gestures in the developer options, you can see previews of which screen you'll navigate to next. This works with views within the same app, across different apps, and from apps to the home screen.
Lava lamp media player
Google also added small tweaks to the media player. Telegram channel Google News spotted a lava lamp-style animation that billows on top of the media player has returned after first making its entrance in Android 13 QPR2 Beta 1, and the play/pause button now comes with a splash animation.
Super low battery warning
If you're someone who likes to run down their phone until the very last drop of energy has left the battery, this change might be for you. On Android 14, Pixel phones will send you a notification when your battery drops to 2%, giving you one last chance to scramble for your charger and top it up before the battery is fully depleted.
Faster and more secure PIN entry
On the security front, Mishaal Rahman spotted Google working on a faster PIN entry option, as he shared on XDA. When you pick a PIN that has six digits or more, you might no longer have to hit enter to confirm your identity anymore. Instead, the phone will automatically recognize that you've just typed in the correct numbers and will unlock your phone when you hit the last digit. This is a feature popularized by the iPhone, but it's also available on many Android phones and in custom ROMs.
In that same vein, Google added a more secure PIN entry screen to Android 13 QPR3, a change that's live in Android 14 Beta 1. In settings, you can turn off animations for the PIN entry screen, making it harder for others to peek which numbers you're entering on your lock screen.
Emoji Kitchen wallpapers
If you're a sucker for customization and Emoji Kitchen, you might be in for a treat with Android 14 on your Pixel phone. As spotted by Mishaal Rahman, you might soon be able to create custom wallpapers using your favorite Emoji Kitchen variants. It's certainly a great way to give you access to a sheer infinite amount of personal wallpapers. The feature is currently called Emoji Lab.
Improved high-contrast text when using Material You themes
Some people rely on Android's high-contrast text to be able to read better. Right now, this system clashes with dynamic theming as introduced by Android 12. As discovered by Mishaal Rahman, Android 14 will take high-contrast text into account when creating a color palette, opting for even more contrast-rich options when the option is enabled.
Unfortunately, this toggle disappeared in Android 14 Beta 1, and it's unclear if it'll make another appearance in a future version.
Flash for notifications
A new accessibility option allows you to enable your display or your camera to flash whenever a notification rolls in. It could be a handy way to bring back notification lights on devices without them, although you can't customize the camera's flash settings at this time. In any case, the feature is meant for those with hearing impairments first and foremost.
Separated ringtone and notification volumes and less goofy volume slider on bigger phones
For ages, Pixel phones have only allowed to set one volume level across your notifications and ringtones. Android 14 might change that and make Pixel phones behave more like Samsung devices. Many people running the Android 14 Developer Preview 2 are seeing separated volume sliders for ringtones and notifications, which would finally make it easier to prioritize phone calls. Even better news — this change is still there in Beta 1, suggesting it should stick around to stable.
Further code changes suggest that Google is looking into a dynamically scaling volume slider to make it taller or shorter depending on the screen size. It's possible that this has been added in anticipation of more complicated devices like foldables, which offer different screen sizes depending on how you hold it and which screen you use (Pixel Fold anyone?).
Independent live wallpapers on lock screen and home screen
It has been possible to set independent wallpapers for your lock screen and home screen for ages on Android, but this wasn't the case for two different live wallpapers. Android 14 is looking to finally change this, as spotted by XDA. The publication was able to activate a new option that lets you set independent live wallpapers.
Left: Android 13 stable. Right: Android 14 DP2
Although it's not currently enabled, Beta 1 includes this change behind the scenes. It's a small touch, but one that should go a long way in forwarding Google's customization efforts. Hopefully, we'll see this make a public debut in Beta 2 in May.
Call streaming to tablets
Mishaal Rahman spotted that Google is working on call streaming between different Android devices. This may allow you to take a phone call on your tablet, even if it doesn't support mobile data. It's similar how Apple lets you take phone calls from your iPhone on your MacBook, your iPad, and your Apple Watch. Right now, this isn't live though, and it's not clear whether the feature will make it to the stable release of Android 14. Google was spotted working on it on older Android releases already.
The end is nigh for spammy task manager apps
In what could be a major change for the apps your relatives install on their smartphones, Google is working towards effectively disabling those scammy task manager apps riddling the Play Store. Instead of allowing these services to clear your background tasks — leaving Android to be forced to restart tasks that didn't need to be killed in the first place — a change to the specific permission these apps use will only allow it to kill its own background processes. Starting with Android 14, only system apps with this KILL_BACKGROUND_PROCESSES permission can stop other tasks from running.
What's new in Android 14 Developer Preview 1
Google released the first developer preview of Android 14 on February 8, 2023. Its sole purpose is to help developers get their apps ready for the new release, so most announcements revolve around features that developers have to pay attention to. Nevertheless, there are some interesting tidbits in here, so let's dive right in with the official announcements from Google:
A focus on big screens and cross-device use cases
Google is continuing its quest to make Android and its app ecosystem a perfect match for all screen sizes, whether on smartphones, foldables, tablets, or Chromebooks. The push for big-screen optimization started with Android 12L and was then subsequently further enhanced with Android 13, and things aren't supposed to be any different with Android 14. The company is rehashing some of the progress it's made and pointing developers to its best-practices and new classes that allow them to build for different form factors more easily.
Google says it updated its large screen app quality checklists, which give developers an easy way to gauge how well their products will perform across different devices. There are also new example layouts for different kinds of apps, which are supposed to inspire developers to create similarly adaptive layouts and apps that make the best use of available screen real estate.
One novel way this could manifest is improved support for keyboards and touchpads, which would be a big benefit for tablets with keyboard cases and laptops that can run Android apps. According to findings from Android expert Mishaal Rahman writing for XDA, Android 14 might allow you to remap modifier keys like Ctrl, Alt, and Meta (the button that's used for the Windows menu). You might also be able to map more commands for different system-level options to keyboards, like access to the Recents screen, mute, and zoom.
On top of that, Mishaal Rahman discovered that Android 14 might add support for touchpad gestures. This will allow you to take advantage of features you long know from MacBooks or Windows laptops. Some code reveals that vendors could add support for gestures for going back, home, opening the Recents overview, the notification drawer, and for quickly switching between apps.
Less battery drain thanks to streamlined background operations
Standby battery life has greatly increased on Android over the years, but there is still work to do. With Android 14, Google is making changes to reserve foreground services to the highest priority user-facing tasks only, meaning that apps won't be able to use your phone's full power when they just want to do something in the background. Additionally, Google is making it easier for developers to program more complicated rules for background tasks, like forcing an app to only download big files when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi.
Google has more restrictions planned for apps that use exact alarms to fire a notification or a task at a specific time in the future. Newly installed apps targeting Android 13 or higher will need to ask users for permission to set exact alarms, though Google encourages developers to avoid exact alarms whenever possible. The restriction doesn't apply to alarm and calendar apps.
In the background, Google is also optimizing how Android's internal broadcast system works. If you're not familiar, this is basically Android communicating certain events to apps, such as when a specific battery level is reached or when airplane mode is entered or exited. Most of the changes to this system are supposed to be internal to Android and shouldn't affect the way apps work, but developers have to know that in certain circumstances, context-registered broadcasts might be queued up before they're sent to cached apps. In practice, this should lead to better standby battery life as the system has to wake up less often to send these broadcasts.
There will also be new Google Play policies that will force apps to adopt these new, more restrictive APIs, with the company saying that more details on this are coming soon.
As to make a point about its promised battery life improvements, Android 14 DP1 is putting your screen-on time front and center in the system setting's battery stats, right above all other usage statistics. After screen-on time was fully hidden from the battery section in Android 12 and only re-introduced with Android 13, this switch is a boon for those who use screen-on time as a gauge to how good or bad the battery life is.
Better accessibility thanks to bigger fonts and new hearing devices settings
As it does with almost every Android release, Google is improving the accessibility of the system. Android 14 is making it possible to scale text up to 200% rather than the old maximum of 130%. In order to prevent any layout issues arising from this setting, Google is also introducing a non-linear font scaling curve. This will prevent text that is already large enough not to get bigger than necessary.
Mishaal Rahman additionally uncovered a new hearing devices section in the Accessibility panel within Android 14's settings. It will make it possible to pair a new hearing device using Bluetooth and collect relevant toggles in one place, like the hearing aid compatibility option that's meant to improve streamed audio to these devices. It's likely that Google will turn this option on in subsequent releases.
Improved per-app language and regional preferences
There are also changes to Android 13's new per-app language options that Google announced, which allow you to tweak the language individual apps are displayed in. Developers will be able to tweak which languages are displayed in the settings menu, allowing them to show different options for different regions or to run A/B tests on which languages should be supported.
Meanwhile, for languages that have a grammatical gender, Android 14 officially introduces a new Grammatical Inflection API. This makes it easier to display different grammatical genders depending on how the app user should be addressed. Rather than having to tweak each string that uses a grammatical gender individually, developers only need to add inflected versions for every relevant term in a translation — the API takes care of the rest.
More security thanks to an installation block for older apps
As already spotted in inadvertently leaked source code, Google is restricting sideloading with Android 14. By default, you won't be able to install apps that target an SDK version lower than 23, introduced 2015 with Android 6. Google explains that malware often uses SDK versions targeting older versions of Android to avoid restrictions part of SDK version 23 and higher. This will effectively make it much harder to get malware on devices, even when bad actors manage to convince users to sideload an app rather than getting it from the Play Store.
If you absolutely rely on an outdated app that targets an older version of Android, it will be possible to override the block by installing it using ADB with the adb install --bypass-low-target-sdk-block FILENAME.apk command.
Android will get a useful and beautiful new back gesture animation
When Google introduced full gesture navigation in Android 10, it completely changed how many people use their phones. Since then, the company has only made small tweaks to gesture navigation, never completely reinventing how it works. While the company will likely stick with the way gestures currently work, Android 14 will offer a serious upgrade in the form of predictive back gestures, as Google shared in an Android Dev Summit panel. The system will offer new animations showing which screen you will navigate to next when you use the back gesture. This will work within apps and when your next move takes you to the home screen.
On Android 14 Developer Preview 1, we're in for a first glimpse of how these animations will look like in action. Android expert Mishaal Rahman managed to activate hidden flags inside a rooted version of the Developer Preview, and presented a rudimentary app with support for it. As you can see in the video below, this adds peeking animations to the back gesture, allowing you to see where you will navigate to next.
The biggest caveat right now is that app developers will have to build support for this feature, so it won't necessarily be enabled for all apps on Android 14 by default.
You can already give this a try on your Pixel phone: When you activate the predictive back navigation flag in the developer options on Android 13, you will see that some apps like Google Phone and Google News support predictive back gestures when your next navigation takes you to the home screen. Android 14 is the next step for this experimental feature.
Interface changes: Fast pair and Guest mode
Google hasn't talked about every single change yet, and there is a ton more to uncover in Android 14 Developer Preview 1. One of these is the addition of a toggle that allows you to turn on or off fast pair. If you're not familiar, fast pair is Google's relatively new option that helps you quickly connect new Bluetooth accessories to your phone. However, if you live in a dense apartment block or work in an electronics store, you might get way too many erroneous prompts to set up nearby devices. The new toggle then allows you to turn off fast pair, helping you get rid of the annoying interruptions.
There is also a minor tweak to the Multiple users settings screen. Here, the Allow guest to use phone option has been moved to the top-level menu, making it easier for you to enable phone calls for anyone using your smartphone. Previously, this option was sitting behind the Guest account itself, which was not the most intuitive place for it.
Android 14 is getting smart about dual SIM setups and the big shift to eSIM
People who live with two SIM cards in one phone know the hassle. Once they reach an area where one of their carriers doesn't perform good enough, they need to switch to their other SIM to get their secondary network up and running. This might become an automated process with Android 14, which offers a toggle to Switch mobile data automatically. The attached description makes matters pretty clear: "Temporarily use this network when it has better availability for calls and internet."
In a similar vein, there is also further evidence in Android 14 that Google will make it possible to turn physical SIMs into eSIMs right on the device. Carriers would have to support this feature, though. In addition to that, Google appears to be working on an option to transfer an eSIM to another device, but it's still unclear if this works with Pixels only or with any Android phone. Google was spotted working on both these features in Android 13 QPR2 already.
App cloning could come to Pixel phones
Some manufacturers allow you to clone your apps, and there are also third-party services on the Play Store that offer this functionality. Many people who want to use an app with multiple accounts rely on it, and it looks like Google is considering adding this option to its version of Android. Evidence has surfaced in the form of a hidden Cloned Apps section in settings that suggests we might look at this option becoming a reality with Android 14.
Fitness tracking apps could work better together
Health Connect, Google's optional app that serves as an interface between different fitness tracking apps to share their data, might become a pre-installed app in Android 14. There was already some evidence that this could happen, and in the first developer preview, we're seeing more of it.
The Android release is shipping with a new Health Connect APEX file, which is a strong indication that Google is preparing to bundle the app with the system. This would give all Android devices a central place to store and exchange your fitness data across various apps.
DualSense Edge support could be coming
Have you dropped some dough on the PlayStation 5's high-end DualSense Edge controller and would like to use it wherever it's possible? You might soon add Android 14 to the list of supported devices. The new operating system has added layout files for the Sony controller, which makes it likely that Android 14 will support it.
Android 14 could help you spot bloatware and uninstall it
Nobody loves unnecessary bloatware on their phones, and Google is looking into singling out those extra apps you don't need to keep on your phone. Mishaal Rahman spotted that there is a new option in a hidden system settings section that lists "Apps installed in the background." The description in this section then explains that you will find apps here that your system may have installed in the background thanks to your carrier or other manufacturer partners. The list will make it possible to get rid of all of these fast.
Android 14 is decoupling root certificates from system updates
Android 14 is decoupling TrustCor root certificates from system updates. Once phones running Android 14 become old and outdated, this could prevent them from losing internet access as they age and their certificates become outdated. Certificates can also become untrusted and might need replacing sooner than their scheduled date, so it's good to be able to push out these updates without full system releases.
Everything else we know about Android 14 so far
Other than the details Google shared about the developer preview above, we've learned a few more things about the upcoming Android release. That's because Android is an open source project at its core, and Google needs to tweak some of the underlying code to make future features happen. The company also announced a few features ahead of time in other circumstances. In addition to that, there are also some leaks from various sources. With this out of the way, here is what we've learned so far.
Android 14's internal code name is the only U dessert anyone could think of
All Android versions have fun codenames attached to them, following an alphabetical order. Google may not use them publicly for marketing anymore like it did in the past, but internally, these codes are still in use. With Android 13, known as Tiramisu, we all know that U is the next letter in the alphabet. As such, Google is going with the only obvious choice and calls its new baby "Android 14 Upside Down Cake." It feels a bit like cheating, but here we are.
Android 14 will have a satellite connectivity option that’s similar to the iPhone 14
Apple has released a bunch of iPhones with emergency satellite connectivity. Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer has confirmed that Android will offer the same technology, saying he is excited to be "enabling all of this in the next version of Android!" Qualcomm modems will likely be first in line to offer support for this, as the Snapdragon manufacturer announced satellite support for its chips during its IFA 2022 keynote.
Bluetooth could learn to measure distances
Bluetooth is a versatile standard that revolutionized how we use wireless accessories like some of the best earbuds. In Android 14, the connectivity protocol might become even more useful. As spotted in the AOSP, Google is working on a new Bluetooth Distance Measurement API that would make it easier to find misplaced accessories. While it's not as accurate as ultra wide-band (UWB), it could tell you if you're moving closer or further away from a given connected Bluetooth device.
It's possible that this API could also power Google's upcoming Watch Unlock mechanism, which would keep your phone unlocked as long as your favorite smartwatch is close by.
The share menu could become independent of system updates
Android 14 might decouple the share menu from the system and turn it into an independently-updated Project Mainline module. This would allow the company to push new versions of the component without a full system update. In the long term, this would mean that changes to the share sheet would arrive on all Android phones running Android 14 and higher. The change might be bitterly needed as the share sheet has become one of Android's weak spots with much room for improvement.
In Android 14 Developer Preview 1, a new, decoupled share sheet is already present, as discovered by Mishaal Rahman. It looks exactly like the one you know right now, and it isn't activated by default just yet, but it's clear that Google is working on it.
Some devices might go 64-bit only
The Google Pixel Tablet is already rumored to offer a 64-bit only build of Android 13, and the same might be the case for many phones and tablets launching with Android 14. Based on documentation in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), devices that come with ARM v9 processor cores will have to go 64-bit only on the upcoming version of Android. With 2021's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 switching to the v9 architecture, we expect all upcoming flagship phones and tablets to become 64-bit only sooner rather than later.
Other changes we may see on Android 14
Some more features were spotted ahead of the Android 14 release:
- Android 14 could introduce support for NTFS, the proprietary file format developed by Microsoft. It's used on many external hard drives that are formatted for Windows, and Android could benefit greatly from supporting it.
- The efficient AV1 video codec could become mandatory on Android 14. It allows devices to save bandwidth without losing image and audio quality. The format is used by YouTube in certain circumstances, so having all devices support it in the long term is great news for your data plan.
Get the Android 14 Beta right now
Android 14 is available for download for everyone. You can simply opt into beta testing via the Android Beta Program, and you'll get a normal system update like you know from normal Android releases. Of course, you can still learn how to manually install the Android 14 Beta on your Pixel phone, if that's your jam.
Keep in mind that the software isn't as stable as a finalized release, so you should only install it when you have a spare phone or when you're okay with not being able to use your phone due to bugs.