Android 14 has been in the eyes of the public since February 2023; with two developer previews already out and beta updates now making their way to enrolled Pixel devices, there’s a lot to unravel for users. And at I/O 2023, Google kept the ball rolling by introducing new AI-based customization features that are coming to help make your device more personal. It also mentioned modifications to over 50 applications (core and third-party) that will make using them on the Android tablets more exciting.
With the final version of the update expected to hit devices in Q3 2023, here we dive into everything you need to know about the upcoming changes.
Android 14 is currently available to the public for testing via the beta program — Beta 2 is now available to public — and if you’re interested in trying out the upcoming update you can install it on your Pixel device. But we advise against installing it on your primary device. These early releases often contain bugs that could break core functionalities and restrict certain apps from working. Nevertheless, if you do choose to install the beta version, make sure to back up your data.
What is Android 14 called?
Google no longer follows its dessert naming scheme and, instead, applies a numerical number for each new release. That said, Google internally continued adding sweet names to its OS versions, and Android 14 is officially called “Upside Down Cake”.
When is Android 14 coming out?
Source: Google, Illustration by Roland Udvarlaki (Pocketnow)
According to timeline details shared by Google, Android 14 is set to follow a release schedule similar to previous version updates. Developer Previews will reach devices over Q1 2023, while beta releases will arrive in Q2 2023. Starting Q3 2023, we can expect “Platform Stability” updates (Beta 3) to go out, after which the final release should be ready.
Historically, Google released the final versions in August and September; we expect Android 14 to follow the trend in 2023.
Platform Stability updates are a consolidated version where Google will no longer add or remove features, but rather focus on refining the software for public use.
What devices are compatible with Android 14 beta program?
Alongside the timeline, Google also announced the compatible devices eligible to enter the Developer preview and Beta program. In a usual fashion, the list only includes Pixel devices, but it goes all the way back to the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G). You can find the full list below:
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How to install the official Android 14 Beta?
The easiest way to install the Android 14 Beta 1 software is by visiting the official website. If you have an eligible device, and you’re signed in, you should see your Pixel smartphone on the list. You can opt-in and receive the first Beta update via an OTA (Over-the-Air) update within a few hours and install the new OS.
If you later decide to opt-out of the Android Beta Program, you must know that your device will be wiped if you leave before the Android 14 stable version is released. This means that you’ll have to go through a factory-reset, and you’ll lose all of your information. To opt-out, you can visit the same page that you used to sign-up, where you’ll see your compatible devices and an “opt-out” button underneath them. After restoration, the device will be factory-reset and run the latest publicly available version of Android 13.
If you have an unlocked bootloader and want to flash the factory image via fastboot, there’s an excellent guide at XDA that you can follow.
What’s new in Android 14?
Changes in Android 14 Beta 1
- Minor visual change: to “At a Glance widget”, which is now back to two lines.
- Minor visual change: and app shortcuts now show the pause and app info icons in reverse order.
- The new back arrow follows the Material You device theme, and it’s more prominent than before.
- Applications can now add custom actions to the share sheet, making them more useful. There’s also a new “nearby” action to help share files with other nearby devices.
- The per-app language preferences option now detects the languages on a per-app basis, and they can now be configured to be supported automatically.
- Accessibility services will not get visibility of specific views unless they claim to help users with disabilities. To ensure the requirements are followed, Google will use Play Protect to check these claims for the apps in the Google Play Store.
Minor changes in Developer Preview 2
- There are more rounded UI elements and a slightly tweaked highlighting animation. Additionally, the media player has a slightly tweaked animation when turning on the screen from an Always-on display mode. The player also has a new glow effect when interacting with the media player itself.
- The lock screen also appears to enable the change the clock styles, but this hasn’t been enabled in DP2 yet.
- In Settings > Battery > There’s a new “Battery widget” option. As the name suggests, the feature puts a battery widget on the home screen, acting as a shortcut and directing the user back to the battery settings page.
- Improved security and privacy menus. Each individual section has received its own page, replacing the drop-down layouts.
- A full-screen image preview is now available when selecting and changing wallpapers in settings. Additionally, Android 14 could let users create emoji wallpapers on Pixel devices (via XDA-Developers)
New system icon
Android 14 has a new system icon resembling a mission badge for rockets. The new icon appears in system settings, notifications, and other pop-up windows throughout the operating system.
Better accessibility features
Google adds new accessibility features in every new Android release. In Android 14, users will be able to scale text up to 200%. The scaling option previously maxed out at just 130%. The scaling curve will also change to prevent scaling issues with the layout to a new non-linear option.
Additionally, evidence suggests that Android 14 could make adding hearing devices and hearing aid possible via Bluetooth. The settings could provide additional features to supported devices, providing better audio for the users.
Android 14 Developer preview 2 added a new option to flash the screen in 12 pre-defined colors. The new option in settings allows users to flash either the camera LED lights, or the screen (or both) to flash when new notifications or alarms sound. This can be useful to notify users when they receive a call, SMS text messages, notifications from apps, and other types of alarms. There are no additional settings, and this can’t be customized on an individual app basis.
The new “Flash notifications” feature can be found in:
- Flash notifications
New back gesture animation
Previous Android versions included the back gesture animation, but let’s just say they weren’t always obvious. It was often frustrating and confusing, since the animation blended in with the background, making it hard to see. That appears to change in Android 14, as Google unveiled a new design with a unique animation.
The new back gesture will now reveal the screen you’re about to visit, helping you see the window you’re about to navigate back. The new button will come with its own unique animation, which will also follow the new Material You themed features to adopt the color based on your system settings and wallpaper.
Mishaal Rahman activated the flags, required to try out the new back gesture, and here’s how it looks in action. As you can see, the application adds a peeking animation, indicating users that they’re about to leave the app, or go back to a previous state or window. The new interface also sports a new pill-shaped design that contains an arrow.
While that’s all nice and looks good in practice, the main issue appears to be the new way this may be implemented. As it stands, developers would have to implement and support this feature on a per-app basis, and it won’t be the default behavior in Android 14. The advantage is that developers can further optimize and enhance the experience with more visual differences. Still, the downside is that there may be even more confusion when using the back gesture.
Only time will tell whether developers will use this, and things can still change when Android 14 Beta and the final build becomes available later in the fall. In developer preview 2, Google started supporting this feature in the settings on Pixel devices.
Blocking the installation of older apps
Android 14 will prevent and restrict sideloading applications by default. This means that users won’t be able to download and install applications that are targeting SDK versions 23 or lower. For those unaware, the SDK dates back to 2015 and Android version 6.
Google explains that the older SDKs are used to install malware and other malicious software on Android devices, and this restriction is aimed at preventing that from happening. The move will make it harder to install malicious software on newer Android devices. Fortunately, Android will enable users to bypass this by overriding the settings via an ADB command.
adb install --bypass-low-target-sdk-block APPLICATION.apk
Improved per-app language, and new regional preferences options
Android 13 introduced the option to change the language on a per-app basis, enabling you to change the language for select applications. According to the latest findings, developers can display select languages in the settings, allowing them to show different options for different regions.
Additionally, there may be another “regional preferences” option in settings that would enable you to change the temperature units, and other number preferences within the menu. This would allow users to change the temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius, use different calendars, and change the first day of the week, and the number system you prefer using.
The Regional Preferences feature gives more customization options to both users and developers. The function could finally mean that conversions are no longer necessary and could be done automatically in just a few taps.
Dual messenger on Samsung One UI 5.1
Many manufacturers allow you to clone applications, such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, and more. These clone apps let you add multiple accounts to messaging apps, that would otherwise limit you to a single account on a device.
According to the latest discoveries, the Android team may be working on bringing the new feature to Android 14, allowing users to do the same app cloning that has been available on some devices for several years.
Network changes and the ability to switch to eSIM across Android devices
Physical SIM, eSIM, and iSIM, Source: Pocketnow
Users who rely on and use two SIM cards in their devices might have encountered a problem where they had to switch between the two numbers to get a better reception. According to some new findings, the process may soon be automated, allowing users to automatically switch between the two sim cards, based on the signal in their local area. The option will enable users to temporarily switch between networks to increase the signal strength to make calls and access the internet.
Additionally, Android 14 could enable users to turn physical SIM cards into eSIMs on the device itself. Assuming that the carrier builds a solution to support this method, it could make switching and upgrading to new Android devices much easier in the future, reducing the need to contact the carrier whenever the SIM needs to be transferred.
This feature dates all the way back to Android 13’s Developer Preview builds, and it could soon arrive in Developer, and Beta builds in Android 14.
Option to uninstall bloatware
Carriers love installing bloatware on smartphones, and Google might be looking into adding an option to remove these from the devices. A new finding suggests that “Apps installed in the background” could soon enable users to remove these applications that may have been installed by carriers and manufacturer partners. We can only hope this makes it onto the final build of Android 14 later in the fall, as it could finally free up valuable space on devices and allow users to get rid of applications they never use.
The share menu has undergone several changes in the past few years, and while it’s come a long way, it’s still far from perfect. Many applications have different layouts and designed share menus, making it difficult and sometimes confusing to select the platform or contact you want to share information with.
To combat this, the share menu could soon become independent of system updates, making it easier for Google to implement and update on devices. A universal share menu could be a reality as Google works on a solution to have one universal share sheet across all Android 14 running devices.
Additions announced at Google I/O 2023
At Google I/O 2023, Google took to the stage to introduce a few other additions to Android, the first of which was Magic Compose. The feature lives within the Messages application and will prompt users with text suggestions to make getting your point across easier.
The other addition was the ability to customize the Lock Screen to make the device feel more personal and useful. Users can change the clock on their Lock Screen by choosing from the available options — akin to the iPhone — and also have custom Lock Screen shortcuts that will let you quickly jump into activities.
Android 14 new features: More to come
Android 14 is under active development. The first and second developer previews were great at offering insight to developers and users for what’s to come in the next-version of Android. And the Android 14 Beta versions which are now rolling out offering a more stable version for the publ the public, offering users with eligible devices to test-drive the new OS before it’s publicly released later this year. Note that Google could develop and include new features at this stage, and existing ones could be removed at any time and not make it to the official build. We regularly update this post with new updates, so don’t forget to save or bookmark it.
What features would you like to see implemented and supported in Android 14? Let us know in the comments down below!