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On October 4, 2023, Google released the stable version of Android 14. Its own Pixel phones will be the first to receive the update, followed by eligible smartphones from other Android OEMs. Pixel owners can install the new software on their handsets now using our Android 14 installation guide. Those with phones from other brands will need to wait for OEM-specific Android 14 releases. Let’s take a look at what’s new in Android 14 and run through all the best Android 14 features worth knowing so far.
Prior to Android 10, Google used to name its Android versions after sweet treats. This included Android 7 Nougat, Android 8 Oreo, and Android 9 Pie. Nowadays, Google just sticks with the version number, so Android 14 is simply known as Android 14. However, Google still uses dessert names internally, and it turns out that Android 14 is dubbed Upside Down Cake.
Google has kicked off the stable Android 14 rollout alongside the Pixel 8 series launch. The update will also reach Pixel 4a 5G and above devices, including the Pixel Tablet simultaneously.
OEMs often take a little longer to release new Android versions, though, with the likes of Samsung and Xiaomi needing to first customize it with their own software skins. Google has said that Android 14 will be available on phones from Samsung, iQOO, Nothing, OnePlus, OPPO, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, vivo, and Xiaomi later this year.
With the release of Android 14 beta 4 on July 11, we got our first look at the new Easter egg. As per the official Android 14 logo — which is very reminiscent of the Apollo 14 patch — the Easter egg is all about space travel.
We have a full article going over how you can see the Android 14 Easter egg as well as screenshots of what it’s like. Be sure to give it a look!
Google has done a good job over the years when it comes to implementing accessibility features. Android 13 introduced a new reading mode for visually impaired users, native braille display support, and audio descriptions. Meanwhile, Android 12 delivered improved screen magnification and the ability to control your screen with facial gestures.
Android has supported large fonts for ages now, but what if the largest option isn’t big enough for you? Well, you’re in luck, as one of the biggest Android 14 features (literally) is larger font sizes.
Google specifically notes that users can now scale font sizes up to 200% in Android 14 versus Android 13, which topped out at 130% on Pixels. Interestingly, the company says it’ll also use non-linear font scaling so that text that’s already large won’t see further size increases. For example, a heading might not see a size increase, but smaller text below the heading could grow larger.
If you are hard of hearing, Android 14 will allow you to see notifications by using the camera flash and display to light up. You can toggle these settings in the Accessibility section. Your choice is having the camera flash, the display flash, or both at the same time. With the display flash, you can also choose the color of the flash, which is nice. However, you can’t alter the way the flashes occur (pulse, flash, wave, etc.) and can’t create per-app customizations. The feature is either “on” or “off.”
Android 14 also brings tweaks related to language, starting with better support for gendered languages (e.g., French and German) via the Grammatical Inflection API.
Another language-related tweak is that developers can now take advantage of more granular per-app language controls. These controls now enable app developers to “customize the language list per region, run A/B experiments, and provide updated locales if your app utilizes server-side localization pushes.”
If you’re a European living in the US, you might want to use Euro-style measurements, calendars, and other systems. With Android 14, that will be possible. You’ll be able to make temperature units Celsius and make the first day of the week Monday, for example.
Android 14 brings a variety of changes in an effort to improve battery life. You shouldn’t expect anything massive like Android Marshmallow’s Doze Mode or an extreme battery saver, but these under-the-hood changes should still yield major savings.
For starters, Google is tweaking two Android APIs (foreground services and job scheduler) with a view to improving efficiency for tasks like background activities and downloading large files.
“The user-initiated data transfer job will make managing user-initiated downloads and uploads easier, particularly when they require constraints such as downloading on Wi-Fi only,” Google says of its tweaks related to file downloads/uploads.
The battery life focus doesn’t end here, as Android 14 also improves the platform’s internal broadcast system for better efficiency.
Google is implementing a “schedule exact alarm” permission, requiring all newly installed apps that aren’t clocks or calendars to request this permission from users. The company explained this addition by saying that precise alarm functionality can affect battery life and other resources.
One returning feature we’re happy to see is the “screen time since last full charge” feature. The option is back in the battery settings menu after it was hidden in Android 12 in favor of your battery usage over the last 24 hours. This returning option is handy if you want a more accurate idea of how long your phone actually lasts.
Android 14 allows you to see new battery information such as its manufacturing date and cycle count. The info can be found in Settings > About Phone > Battery Information. However, it might not be displayed on all phones.
Android 14 has a ton of features related to privacy and security. We’ve got all the significant changes here, some of which could draw a lot of controversy.
One of the biggest differences between Android 14 vs Android 13 is that the new update now blocks older Android apps from being installed. Google says this change specifically targets apps built for Android 5.1 Lollipop APIs and older.
This is a pretty big change, with the search giant reasoning that malware often targets older API levels that don’t take advantage of more modern security and privacy protections.
This tweak means that many abandoned apps (e.g., old games and niche apps) can’t be installed on Android 14 phones. If there’s any consolation, it’s that Google says older apps will remain on your device if you upgrade to Android 14. But this obviously won’t be the case for devices launching with Android 14 out-of-the-box.
On Android 13 and earlier, if an app asks for permission to access your photos and videos, you can either say “yes” or “no.” With Android 14, you have a bit more control. Now, you’ll be able to allow apps to have access to some photos and videos using the permission notification below:
This is great for privacy, as apps can only see the pictures and videos you want them to see (no judgment here, folks).
In Android Settings, you’ll be able to turn off animations when you enter your PIN. This will make it trickier for “shoulder surfers” to see you enter your PIN and memorize it. This small change could be the difference between someone being able to access your phone or not. As of now, this feature is set to “off” by default.
Likewise, Android 14 removes the need to hit an “OK” button after entering your PIN. Instead, you can just enter the number, and your phone will unlock. Note that this will only work if your PIN is six digits or more. If your PIN is six digits or more, it will automatically turn the feature on. If you want the “OK” button back, though, you can manually institute it.
Let’s say you install an app on Monday. You accept the permissions and privacy policies for that app. Then, on Tuesday, the app changes the terms of those policies. Up until now, you wouldn’t know about this unless the company contacted you directly. That will change with Android 14, as you’ll now get a pop-up (see above) telling you about any changes that have happened with any particular app.
Google is also fighting malware and exploits by making tweaks to the intents system and dynamic code loading. Neither of these features is user-facing, but they should still give defense in depth when it comes to malware and vulnerabilities. Passkey support is also enhanced with Android 14, moving us closer to a password-less future.
Android has been making a cross-device play for years now, and Google is continuing this push in Android 14. This time, we’re getting developer-focused additions such as window size classes and sliding pane layout so apps can more effectively adapt to different screens.
Finally, Google says it’s offering a preview of its cross-device SDK so developers can more easily build apps that run across different devices and form factors.
Needless to say, there don’t seem to be any significant user-facing cross-device improvements here as we saw with Android 12L. But we’re still glad to see Google offering improved tools to make apps run well on more than just your typical phone.
The Health Connect app is effectively a hub to collect health data from your various fitness and health apps, and it indeed supports health/fitness data from big-name players like Samsung, Fitbit, and Peloton.
At the moment, this is still a downloadable app. However, with the launch of Android 14, Health Connect will now come with Android out-of-the-box. This means you won’t need to install it manually, and updates will come automatically.
At Google I/O 2023, the company rolled out not one, not two, but three new ways to create custom wallpapers. The first creates an artificial parallax effect from your own images. On stage, David Burke showed how this works with a picture of a child. Next, he showed off a new Emoji wallpaper creator (as seen above). You select the Emoji you like, select some colors, and then you get a fun, colorful layout of cartoons. Finally, Burke demonstrated a generative AI system for creating wallpapers. The first two systems will land on all devices with Android 14’s stable build, but the generative AI system is only reserved for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro for now. Android 14 also now includes a monochromatic theme with minimal colors.
You can already customize your home screen with widgets, wallpapers, icon packs, etc. The lock screen, however, has been far less customizable. That changes with Android 14, as you’ll be able to customize all sorts of aspects of the lock screen. You’ll be able to customize fonts, widgets, colors, and formats on your Android 14 lock screen. You can even add shortcuts to your lock screen at the lower corners.
The aforementioned entries are just the features and tweaks Google has officially confirmed so far. However, there are a few more Android 14 features that have either been officially confirmed before or are expected based on hints in Google code.
Google is borrowing one of the best features of Apple’s network for Find My Device. With Android 14, users would likely be able to locate devices even when they’re powered off. Google is reportedly working on its own Find My Device network, which will allow a switched-off device to ping other nearby Android devices over Bluetooth, which in turn will be able to report the general location of the offline product. Evidence for this feature was also found in Android 14 QPR1.
Google also appears to be testing a floating search bar for the Pixel Launcher in Android 14. We found the feature hidden in the first beta for Android 14 QPR1. When enabled, it causes the search bar to sit above the keyboard instead of at the top of the screen when you’re in the app drawer. It sits above the UI of both Gboard and SwiftKey and could do the same for any other Android keyboard app.
Google may be testing a new repair mode for Pixels. It sounds very similar to the Maintenance Mode on Samsung Galaxy devices that creates a new user profile when phones are sent in for repairs, but we think Google might be simulating a factory reset. Google could make use of a mechanism it introduced in Android 10 called Dynamic System Updates (DSU) to make this happen. You can read more about how the repair mode on Pixels might work when and if it’s launched.
Android 14 could bring a new screen search gesture inspired by Google Now on Tap. The latter was killed by Google when the Google Assistant was launched. Evidence found in Android 14 QPR1 suggests users may be able to press and hold the navigation handle to invoke a search their screen.
With Android 14, Google could allow any Android phone to be used as a webcam if device makers wish to implement the functionality. It may no longer be necessary to use a third-party app to turn your phone into a webcam. Mishaal Rahman explains the feature in detail here.
The likes of Qualcomm, HUAWEI, and T-Mobile have all announced satellite communication functionality in the last six months or so. Thankfully, Google is indeed bringing native satellite communication support to Android 14 as well.
The news came via a tweet in September 2022 courtesy of Google executive Hiroshi Lockheimer. Unfortunately, the company didn’t clarify specific capabilities here, such as support for two-way communications and multimedia formats. But native support should make things easier for smartphone brands and service providers nonetheless.
One question around native support for satellite connectivity is whether we’ll see 2023’s Pixels picking up this feature. But we’ll just have to wait and see for now.
Android’s back gesture functionality can be a little unpredictable at times. Will the gesture take you to the previous screen or to the home screen? Who knows! Thankfully, it looks like Google is working on a solution for Android 14.
Veteran journalist and code sleuth Mishaal Rahman uncovered evidence that Android 14 would offer a predictive back gesture feature by default (after it was optional in Android 13). This will give you a visual preview of where the back gesture will take you.
Certain OEMs have a feature that allows you to clone an app. This is useful for signing into one app with two different accounts. You just clone the app, sign into the secondary account in the clone, and then open whichever app you want at that moment.
There is evidence that Google could be working on an app cloning for Android 14. This would allow you to clone apps without needing to buy a phone from OEMs that support it, because all Android phones would have it. We don’t know for certain if this will make it to the final build or not, but it appears to be a work in progress.
Bloatware is a huge problem. Some of the worst bloatware comes from your carrier. Occasionally, a surge of software will download and install behind the scenes as soon as you insert your SIM card into a phone. Google wants to fight this with a feature it’s working on for Android 14. Currently known as “Apps installed in the background,” this feature will show you any and all apps that have downloaded secretly and allow you to uninstall them quickly. This feature needs to be activated with hidden developer flags, so it might not make the stable Android 14 release — but we sure hope it does!
Android 14 gives users the ability to launch two apps side-by-side in a split-screen view. This feature is called App Pair. But that’s not all; it looks like the operating system may also allow users to save those app pairs and add a shortcut to the home screen. This way, the user can quickly relaunch an App Pair by tapping on the shortcut.
Android expert Mishaal Rahman also uncovered evidence that Google was working on a number of additions to the taskbar. For one, he discovered that Google was working to bring a search bar to the taskbar. The platform holder also seems to be working on displaying recent apps in the taskbar (albeit in desktop mode) as well as letting users choose between a permanent and transient taskbar.
It’s worth noting that pretty much all of these taskbar enhancements are available in Android skins from other brands. But this would open the door for the Pixel Fold, Pixel Tablet, and devices from other OEMs to get these additions. Rahman adds that this might only arrive in the Android 14 QPR1 release, though.
So far, we know that the Camera2 and CameraX extensions will see updates, allowing apps that use them to handle longer processing times.
Yes, it is most definitely a good idea to upgrade to Android 14 now that the stable release is out
Google Pixel phones tend to get stable Android releases on the day they’re released. But you’ll need to wait if you’ve got a phone from another brand like Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Motorola, or others.
These are all the best Android 14 features worth knowing about so far. We’ll be sure to update this article with new features as we dig through the update.
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