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Android 13 is rolling out fast and now our attention is shifting to the next best thing: Android 14. Google’s next operating system update got its second beta release during Google I/O 2023. Keep reading to find out what changes in the new system, which dessert starting with the letter “U” was selected, and when will Android 14 be available for download.
Some companies have already updated most of their flagship phones and some even started to update their entry-level devices to Android 13. There are already promises of even faster updates in 2023. With that in mind, let’s see what to expect from Android 14.
Android releases follow a fairly predictable schedule by this point, with specific phases laid out to help app developers and device manufacturers to prepare for the new release, which usually happens around the third quarter of the year.
The first official announcement happens with the release of the first Developer Preview (DP), which showcases features that are still in development for the system. The next milestone happened with the launch of the first beta version, ahead of Google I/O—the company’s event for developers, traditionally held in May—where the second beta was launched for Pixel phones and devices from brands like OnePlus, Xiaomi, and more.
After around three to five Beta releases, Google declares that the version “includes a release candidate build of Android“, which means the feature set is final, and at least for app developers, all the app interfaces (APIs) are ready for testing applications and games.
After some bug fixing—mostly related to stability issues for Pixel phones—Google releases the stable version, coinciding with the announcement of a new Pixel generation, which happened between August and October since Android 6 (Marshmallow, back in the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P era).
Even though Google dropped using the Android codename in the official marketing campaign after Android 10, the tradition still lives among the OS developers and engineers.
For 2023, Google’s developers didn’t really have many options for desserts starting with the U letter, and so, already in April 2022 the Android repository got an update hinting at Android 14’s dessert codename: Upside down cake. Even so, expect to see marketing materials using only the “Android 14” branding.
With the beta releases rolling out, especially after Google I/O 2023, we expect to see more features coming out of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repositories into the test versions. Some of the features below may change or be dropped entirely before the stable release, so make sure to come back to this page for updates.
After reaching platform stability in the previous beta, the Android 14 beta 4 brought the traditional update to the operating system’s Easter Egg. The steps necessary to unlock the new version’s secret are unchanged from previous editions, but instead of just presenting a fun animation, Android 14 offers an intriguing space game with vector graphics.
Although not a very popular feature—with many brands simply skipping the option—, user profiles can be quite useful in devices shared by different people (or used for both personal and professional ends). Until Android 13, Google simply offered a generic image with different colors. With Android 14, however, the default selection adds a splash of personality. And as in the past, users can choose their own image or even take a selfie.
This new option under the Screen Lock menu sets the phone to automatically unlock after properly typing the PIN, if it has six digits or more, instead of requiring the user to press the Enter key to unlock the phone. The system notes that enabling the option is less secure than the default option, so proceed with caution.
Besides that, the fourth beta updated the mute icon in the notification bar to be the same one in the volume slider, added a few interface tweaks to the share sheet, added an option to list the device’s “Manufactured year”, and brought a couple of changes to the Pixel Tablet experience.
On Android 14 Beta 5, Google basically did a bugfix release, with one small exception: One of the lock screen clocks was removed, as 9to5Google reported. Beta 5 was announced to be the last test release before the final version launch, expected anytime now.
Google announced that the third beta for Android 14 brings platform stability. For end users, it should not matter much, but for those creating and updating apps, the news means that system tools, libraries, and other system interfaces are not expected to change until the final release.
“Platform stability” doesn’t mean, however, that Google won’t add new user-facing features, which will still be added until the previously mentioned “release candidate build” closer to the stable version.
Already teased in the previous test versions, the lock screen now has different design options from the style inherited from Android 12. By long pressing the home screen, you can select Wallpaper & style (the option name can change until the stable release) to find a new Lock screen tab with a style carrousel with different clock styles.
The new options can also be opened directly from the lock screen, by simply long-pressing an empty part of the display and selecting the Customize lock screen option.
An additional Clock color & size button allows you to further customize the clock, including the colors if you don’t like the combination derived from the wallpaper and an option to force a small clock size, or a dynamic one to adapt according to notifications and other elements on the lock screen.
One design change that not everyone will notice is the new look for the Material design switches, as noted by. Notice on the screenshot below the off state in the Dark theme option.
For those holdouts on the 3-button navigation (me included), Google added a new tutorial for the gesture navigation. Not only is the new guide more colorful and friendly, but it is also no longer buried in the Gestures sub-menu under the System options, requiring one less tap to (finally?) join the cool kids swiping their way through the interface.
Some extra hidden settings were uncovered by Esper’s Mishaal Rahman in the Developer options. Note that some may be removed before the stable release, while others can be incorporated into other parts of the system:
Some of the new features announced during Google I/O 2023 are still not available on Beta 3, such as the emoji wallpapers, so there are still features to look out for in future beta releases.
A setting that many people change, but not frequently, Font Size can now be set straight from the Quick Settings menu (the one accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen). It is not displayed by default, but beta testers can easily add the new shortcut.
The new option is easier to use instead of going to Settings > Accessibility > Display size and text. And besides being an accessibility feature, can be useful while using a foldable phone with apps that don’t adapt well when switching between different screens, for example.
For users with automatic updates set on the Google Play Store and who worry about apps sharing location data with third parties—an option that may change without any prompts if the user gives an app unrestricted access to the device’s location—Android 14 now has a page in the Settings app under the Privacy option to list apps that changed their location data sharing practices on the Google Play Store.
For example, if a GPS app was already granted access to geolocation data but suddenly started sharing that information with advertisers or analytics platforms, on Android 13 there is no clear way to know about that change, unless by checking the Data Safety section on the app’s Play Store page. On Android 14, any changes should be reported on the Settings app but only if the app developer discloses that first.
Maybe as a result of Google’s renewed interest in tablets—and the eternal promise of using them as productivity devices—the current Languages & input page on the Settings app is being replaced by separate sections in Android 14.
The change may be related to better support for dedicated keyboards in Android, both wired and wireless, and also gesture navigation with touchpads, which also got a dedicated settings page for compatible devices.
Directly related to the change above, external keyboards can have their modifier keys—Caps lock, Ctrl, Action, and Alt—default behavior changed in the new Keyboard settings page.
When copying a text while the on-screen keyboard is displayed, Android 14 now shows a small clipboard notification above the keyboard. To display the contents—and also contextual options such as the share shortcut, like the default behavior in previous versions—, simply tap on the small icon.
One Android 14 change that can only be found on the Developer options, for now, is a new simplified Contrast option toggle. The new popup menu displays three options with an example illustration.
We expect to see the new option to be listed on the Accessibility menu for the stable release, so Google may be still experimenting with the design and options.
After adding the option to grant access only to specific images and video recordings during the DP releases, the Android 14 Beta 1 changed the interface. Google moved the granular access option to the top of the menu, with Allow all as the second option.
Next time the same app request access to the same file types, Android 14 will display a dialog (right picture in the above image) to change the access permissions, keep the current settings, or grant the application full access to photos and videos on the device. That dialog lacks the option to remove the permission altogether, so expect more changes in the coming betas.
Previously, changes to the system interface language were automatic, just reorder the language list on System > Language & input > Languages, and the system changes in an instant. On Android 14 Beta 1, Google added an intermediate confirmation dialog to avoid accidents. The nextpit editorial team is thankful for that!
Another welcome change on Android 14 Beta is the Enhanced PIN privacy option. The “Disable animations while entering the PIN” label doesn’t quite describe how the feature works, which basically hides the alphanumeric preview briefly displayed after typing the PIN on the lock screen. The result is that other people around you cannot peek at your screen to learn your PIN.
One interface change that is not currently working on the first Beta release is the Show weather option in the lock screen settings. According to Mishaal Rahman, the setting requires changing a hidden system property first.
When trying to share more than four images on Android through the default Share menu, Android 13 and previous versions do not display all of them for space reasons, showing a “+” indicator on top of the third shared image. On Android 14, the menu is expanded horizontally, allowing users to scroll to check the images before sharing them.
Another change on the Share menu is the option to edit captions on images that have accompanying text or URLs on them. Similar to the image preview feature mentioned above, this change will help avoid issues with sharing sensitive information or private notes.
One change brought by the Android 14 DP2 that almost went unnoticed was the restriction on the “killBackgroundProcesses()” system call, which will only be valid for the app itself. As Google (and Esper‘s Mishaal Rahman) noted, the change will stop apps from closing/killing other apps.
The practical effect is that those apps that claim to improve performance by force-closing background apps will stop working. As Google has been saying for some years, Android is designed to manage apps in the background and kill them whenever the device needs more memory. Force-closing apps can impact battery life and performance, as a full application reload takes longer and consumes more resources.
Depending on your current phone, this Android 14 change will look like old news. One small change brought by the DP2 release was the option to separately set volume levels for ringtones and notifications, something that some brands’ OSs have been offering for a few years.
The tiny but important change was documented by Mishaal Rahman on Twitter and can be seen by opening the Settings app and then selecting the Sound & vibration option. Pixel phone owners currently on Android 13 could activate the separate controls by changing an optional flag in the system, so it is possible the new feature could come to Android 13 on a future Feature Drop.
Starting with the most evident, Google is stretching the maximum font zoom level while using non-distorting and non-linear scaling. Originally set at 130%, the setting will now allow up to 200% font size increase, producing more readable texts that will greatly help the visually impaired and seniors.
In addition, developers can now give the ability to users to select their preferred default language per app. At the same time, grammatical gendered languages such as French and German are given emphasized through the support of new specific terms and addresses.
Google is improving data security in terms of photo and video access. Thus, in addition to general access, or blocking, additional access to selected photos and videos can now be granted under Android 14.
In addition to a revised wallpaper view, there will also be new and revised lock screen widgets with Android “UpsideDownCake”. Furthermore, one of the next versions will offer a so-called emoji lab, which will realize customizable wallpapers.
Funnily enough, there is also talk about customizations of the camera and notification LEDs. Here, custom LED patterns and colors will be made possible, as long as an RGB notification LED is available.
For the travel enthusiasts among us, Google then also offers regional settings with Android 14, which uses your preferred metric regardless of your current location. As an example, if you feel you belong to mainland Europe, then you’re more likely to work with millimeters, centimeters, and Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, which is more common in the US.
The fact that Google wants to address the topic of hearing aids a bit more profoundly also fits into the “senior” category. Hearing aids can already be set up via Bluetooth, but an extra area is expected under Accessibility, where settings like Compatibility options are supposed to gather in order to optimize the streaming quality of the hearing aids.
As spotted by well-known developer Mishaal Rahman, the Fast Pair service is continued to be a focus for the search giant. This feature is now added to the Connected devices preferences under Settings. Going further you will be seeing the Fast Pair option along with UWB, Bluetooth, Cast, NFC, and Printing. Tapping it will show a toggle to scan for Fast Pair devices.
There’s also a small change for guest mode, or multiuser, where the Allow guest to use phone option has been moved to the top-level menu. Previously, this option was behind the guest account itself, which wasn’t the best place for it.
The battery setting sections have earned minor to modest tweaks. For the usage area, the screen on time is now labeled with a period of the last charge while below it is an option to show usage by a breakdown of apps or systems. In the Batter Saver, access to Extreme Battery Saver is added on the main page as well as the Adaptive battery toggle. There are changes to the schedule and reminder section too.
Behind-the-scenes improvements on Android 14 DP1 include streamlined broadcast. This is a deeper part of the Android system, but Google has indicated the change so developers are aware. For end-users, this may mean a more efficient process resulting in longer battery life overall.
As more form factors are introduced such as foldable and flip phones, Android 14 is continuing to bring optimizations that will support different screen layouts. It also means that the app can be easily supported regardless of screen size or form.
Similar to the feature debuted on the iPhone 14 family, the satellite connectivity feature is also coming to (at least some) Android phones in 2023. The new connection option was announced by Google’s SVP, Hiroshi Lockheimer, but he didn’t elaborate on how it will work, only for emergency calls, only SMS, or with low-speed data connections.
With Nearby Share promoted to a first-class citizen in recent Android releases, its predecessor will finally be removed from the Android codebase—after being removed from most distributions in the past years. Although not many people will miss Android Beam, the feature had one advantage over Nearby Share: not relying on Google Mobile Services (GMS), which made it possible for AOSP-based distributions like EMUI/HarmonyOS, and FireOS to potentially include support for the data transfer feature.
A welcome change for owners of outdated phones was mentioned by Android Police regarding updates for security certificates. Those are digital certificates used for online connections, among other things, have expiration dates, and are refreshed with system updates. And that poses not only a security problem but also affects basic connections over HTTPS (the S stands for security, as you should have guessed already).
According to Mishaal Rahman, the certificates will be renewed in the future through standard Play Store updates. Helping owners of devices that were abandoned by their manufacturers to stay connected and use basic online services. Regardless, it will be a while until Android 14 devices will require certificate updates.
Not a big deal, but the Security and Privacy section has now received dropdown menus for better usability.
The scenario is not uncommon to those using gesture navigation: you swipe back and again, trying to go back to a specific app screen, and suddenly end up on the Android home screen. According to Google, this will be a thing of the past, with the last window displaying a preview of the home screen during the back gesture.
The new functionality can be seen around the 34min mark in the video embedded above. Hopefully, that will end the days of closing an active app by mistake…
A welcome, but at the same time worrying, change was spotted by Esper’s Mishaal Rahman, suggesting that AV1 decoding support will be mandatory in Android 14. AV1 is the next-generation royalty-free video codec backed by Google, Amazon, Netflix, Mozilla, and many others as an alternative to the fee-based MPEG LA video formats (AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265, and VVC/H.266).
As per android cdd 14, sec 2.2.2 and sec 2.6,
Handheld and Tablet device implementations must support decoding AV1
As the quote above from a September commit to the Android source code repository, the Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) will force devices to support decoding the AV1 codec. It is unclear if Google will take the hard stance of not allowing devices supporting AV1 to be updated to Android 14, or if the requirement will only apply to newly released phones and tablets.
That requirement can be easily fulfilled in the flagship market, in which the newest Qualcomm, MediaTek, and even Exynos SoCs supporting AV1. But that could exclude mid-range and low-end devices, many of which launch with processors released many years ago…
Android power users already noticed this, but the share menu—known as the intents menu—varies wildly between applications, something that is made worse depending on the manufacturer’s skin. A change in Android 14 promises to bring a little bit of consistency, as reported by developer Mishaal Rahman.
According to the Esper developer, Google moved the share menu code to an updatable module, freeing the menu from OTA updates, and also limiting the number of customizations applied by the different brands (looking at you One UI).
Another commit to the Android repository, this time uncovered by 9to5Google, indicates that Android 14 will block the installation of apps targeting outdated operating system versions. A similar control is already applied on the Play Store, where app developers must target at least Android 12.
If implemented, the change would stop users from sideloading—or installing from third-party stores—old app versions, and those who are adamant about using an old app version could resort theoretically to using the command line. In any case, the Android repository doesn’t list a minimum API target for the change, so Google may only be preparing changes further down the road.
As it usually happens with each new Android release, Google’s Pixel line will be the first to get the new version. Android’s releases are usually timed with a new Pixel generation line, so a “Pixel 8” smartphone is expected to be the first phone to be released with the system.
The update is expected to be available on the same day for other Google smartphones, from the Pixel 4a and newer.
The update availability for other brands and models will wildly vary, so we recommend checking our guide on each manufacturer’s update policy:
This article will be constantly updated leading up to the Android 14 stable release, including all the test versions. Make sure to follow nextpit on Facebook and Twitter to be alerted on new features, development releases, and device support!
This article was updated in August with new features available in the Beta 4 and 5 releases.
Having written about technology since 2008 for a number of websites in Brazil, Spain, Denmark, and Germany, I specialize in the mobile ecosystem, including various models, components, and apps. I tend to not only value performance and specifications, but also things like repairability, durability, and manufacturer support. I tend to prioritize the end-user’s point of view whenever possible.
These new granularities in 14 strike me as the kind of moves you might make in preparing your audience for a new OS that requires these kinds of granularities. Because most of this looks like something I’d see in a laptop or desktop OS where these more fine-tune controls make sense. Maybe preparatory moves toward Fuchsia?
It seems that another Nest Hub started updating to Fuchsia, but there were no announcements.
If Google manages to do an Android>Fuchsia transition even remotely smoothly on phones that would be impressive.
They announced the pixelbook as the test bed device for Fuchsia early this year. There are pics and video of that out there. I don’t see myself going to a fully closed system like that. Probably just finish the switch over to portable Linux then.
I just installed 13 (lineage os 20) today. Not all that different in use.
Indeed. The jump from 12 to 13 seems much smaller than going from 11 to 12.
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