Published on September 26th, 2023
On September 21, 2023, Google unveiled a significant step towards the eagerly anticipated Android 14 release with the introduction of Android 14 QPR1.
This beta release marks an important milestone on the path to a stable Android 14, and while it’s readily available for Pixel owners, users of other smartphone brands may need to exercise some patience as they await OEM-specific Android 14 updates.
In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of what’s in store for Android 14.
From new features to notable tweaks, we’ll delve into the exciting changes and improvements that this new iteration of Android has in store.
So, join us as we explore the best Android 14 features that are worth your attention as of now.
The Next Android Chapter: Name and Release Date of Android 14
Before Android 10, Google had a tradition of naming its Android versions after sweet treats. This included memorable names like Android 7 Nougat, Android 8 Oreo, and Android 9 Pie.
However, starting with Android 10, Google shifted to a simpler numerical naming convention, with Android 14 being the latest iteration.
Internally, though, they still maintain their dessert-themed tradition, and Android 14 is playfully referred to as “Upside Down Cake.”
Reflecting on recent history, Android 13 made its debut in August 2022, while Android 12 was released in October 2021, and Android 11 arrived in September 2020.
As for the highly anticipated Android 14 release date, no official announcement has been made yet, beyond the tentative Android 14 schedule.
Nevertheless, Android 14 achieved Platform Stability in June, with Google providing developers with “several weeks” to test their apps before the stable release.
The prevailing expectation is that the stable Android 14 will coincide with the launch of the Pixel 8 series in October.
However, it’s worth noting that OEMs like Samsung and Xiaomi typically take a bit longer to adapt and customize new Android versions with their own software enhancements before rolling them out to their devices.
Unearthing the Secret Delight of Android 14
The release of Android 14 beta 4 on July 11 brought Android enthusiasts their first glimpse of the highly anticipated Easter egg.
This Easter egg is themed around space travel, drawing inspiration from the official Android 14 logo.
The logo design bears a striking resemblance to the Apollo 14 patch, a historic mission emblematic of human exploration beyond our planet.
This space-themed Easter egg promises to add an exciting and cosmic touch to the Android 14 experience, aligning with the broader theme of space exploration.
It not only reflects the aesthetic charm of space travel but also highlights how Android consistently incorporates creative and engaging elements into its software updates, making the user experience both functional and fun.
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Android enthusiasts can look forward to unraveling this space-inspired Easter egg as they explore the Android 14 beta and, eventually, the stable release.
A Deeper Look at Accessibility Improvements in Android 14
Google has consistently demonstrated its commitment to accessibility by integrating a range of valuable features into its Android operating system.
Android 13, for instance, made significant strides in this area by introducing a novel reading mode tailored to meet the needs of visually impaired users.
This feature likely involved optimizations such as improved text-to-speech capabilities, larger and more legible fonts, and simplified navigation to enhance the reading experience.
Furthermore, Android 13 embraced native braille display support, making it easier for individuals with visual impairments to interact with their devices.
This inclusion allows braille displays to seamlessly integrate with Android devices, providing tactile feedback and enabling effective communication for users who rely on this tactile writing system.
Another noteworthy addition in Android 13 was audio descriptions, a feature designed to provide narrated descriptions of on-screen actions, scenes, and content.
This enhancement greatly benefits users with visual impairments by offering them a more immersive and informative multimedia experience.
Building on this legacy of accessibility improvements, Android 12 further enhanced the user experience.
It introduced refined screen magnification capabilities, assisting users with varying degrees of visual impairments in better comprehending on-screen content.
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Additionally, Android 12 brought an innovative capability to control the device using facial gestures, which can be particularly advantageous for those with limited mobility.
Enhanced Font Scaling for Larger Text Sizes
Android has a longstanding history of accommodating users with larger font needs, but what if the previously available options simply weren’t expansive enough for your preferences?
Fortunately, with the advent of Android 14, one of its standout features—quite literally—is the introduction of even larger font sizes.
Google has taken a notable step forward by enabling users to scale font sizes up to a whopping 200%. This represents a substantial increase compared to Android 13, which capped font scaling at 130% on Pixel devices.
What sets Android 14 apart is its utilization of non-linear font scaling. This means that text that is already considered large won’t undergo further size increases.
For instance, headings may remain at their current size, while smaller text situated beneath them could see significant growth in font size.
This innovative approach ensures a more tailored and practical experience for users who require larger text for readability and accessibility.
Exploring Android 14’s Notification Flashing
There’s a valuable accessibility feature designed to assist individuals with hearing impairments. This feature allows users to receive notifications through visual cues rather than sound.
It achieves this by utilizing both the camera flash and the display. Users can easily configure this feature by accessing the Accessibility section in their device settings.
Within this menu, they have the option to choose between using the camera flash, the display flash, or both simultaneously to signal notifications.
Additionally, Android 14 provides the flexibility to select the color of the display flash, adding a personal touch to the visual notification experience.
However, it’s important to note that Android 14 currently doesn’t offer customization for the way these flashes occur, such as pulse, flash, or wave patterns, and there are no per-app customizations available.
Instead, users can simply enable or disable the feature as a whole. This new accessibility feature is a valuable addition, enhancing the inclusivity of Android 14 for individuals with hearing challenges.
Advancements in Language Features
Android 14 introduces several noteworthy enhancements in the realm of language support and customization. One significant improvement is the enhanced support for gendered languages like French and German through the Grammatical Inflection API.
This enhancement aims to make the Android experience more linguistically inclusive by allowing for better handling of gender-specific grammar and linguistic nuances in these languages.
For example, it can ensure that app content adapts appropriately based on gender-related differences, enhancing the overall user experience for speakers of such languages.
Another noteworthy language-related tweak in Android 14 is the introduction of more granular per-app language controls for developers.
With these controls, app developers gain increased flexibility and control over how languages are presented and utilized within their applications.
This includes the ability to customize the language list on a per-region basis, run A/B experiments to test language-related features and improvements, and seamlessly update locales within the app through server-side localization pushes.
This level of control empowers developers to fine-tune the language experience within their apps to better cater to their user base, ultimately leading to a more user-friendly and globally accessible application.
Regional Preferences Made Smoother in Android 14
If you’re a European resident living in the United States, Android 14 brings good news – it will now allow you to seamlessly switch to European-style measurements, calendars, and other regional systems.
This means you can opt for temperature units in Celsius and designate Monday as the first day of the week, aligning your device’s settings with your preferred regional preferences.
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Android 14’s enhanced flexibility ensures that your mobile experience caters to your specific regional needs, making it more customizable and user-friendly than ever before.
Android 14’s Battery Upgrades: What’s in Store
Android 14 introduces several subtle yet impactful changes aimed at enhancing battery life.
While it may not feature groundbreaking developments like Android Marshmallow’s Doze Mode or an extreme battery saver, these behind-the-scenes modifications are poised to deliver significant improvements in power efficiency.
These under-the-hood refinements work together to optimize battery usage, ultimately resulting in noteworthy savings for Android users.
Improving Android’s Core Operations
Google is making important refinements to two core Android APIs: foreground services and job scheduler.
These adjustments are primarily aimed at enhancing the efficiency of background activities, such as downloading large files, and ensuring a smoother user experience.
One significant improvement is related to user-initiated data transfers, which involve tasks like downloading or uploading files.
With these tweaks, managing such tasks becomes more streamlined, particularly when specific constraints, like downloading only on Wi-Fi, are required.
This means that Android 14 will be better equipped to handle user-initiated data transfers, ensuring that these processes are more efficient and user-friendly.
Google’s commitment to optimizing battery life extends to the platform’s internal broadcast system. This system plays a crucial role in managing communication between different components of an Android device.
By improving its efficiency, Android 14 can reduce unnecessary battery drain caused by inefficient broadcasting processes.
This, in turn, contributes to more efficient power management and ultimately leads to longer battery life for Android users.
Enhancing Alarm Permissions
Google is introducing a new permission called “schedule exact alarm” in Android 14, which mandates that newly installed apps, excluding clock and calendar apps, seek user permission for this feature.
Google’s rationale behind this addition is that precise alarm scheduling can have an impact on device battery life and other system resources.
Revisiting a Statistic We’re All Familiar With
One welcome return in Android 14 is the “screen time since last full charge” feature.
It has made its way back into the battery settings menu after being temporarily hidden in Android 12, where it was replaced by battery usage statistics over the last 24 hours.
This re-introduced option proves valuable for users seeking a more precise and reliable measure of their phone’s actual battery endurance, allowing them to gauge how long their device truly lasts between charges.
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Revamped Battery Insights
In Android 14, users now have access to additional battery information, including details about the battery’s manufacturing date and cycle count.
This information can be quite valuable in understanding the health and history of your device’s battery.
To access this information, you can navigate to the “Battery Information” section in your device’s settings.
Specifically, you can find it by going to “Settings” > “About Phone” > “Battery Information.” However, it’s important to note that this feature may not be available on all Android devices.
Its availability can depend on the manufacturer and model of your phone, as well as the specific implementation of Android 14 by your device’s manufacturer.
Understanding the manufacturing date can provide insights into how old your battery is, which can be a factor in battery health and longevity.
The cycle count indicates how many complete charge and discharge cycles the battery has undergone, which is another important metric for assessing its overall condition.
While these details may not be visible on all Android devices, for those that do offer this feature, it adds transparency and valuable information for users to better manage and maintain their device’s battery health.
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A Closer Look at Android 14’s Privacy and Security Upgrades
Android 14 introduces a plethora of privacy and security features, encompassing several substantial modifications, a few of which may spark considerable debate and discussion.
No More Super-Old App Installs in Android 14
One of the significant differences between Android 14 and Android 13 is a policy change that prevents the installation of older Android apps. This change specifically affects apps designed for Android 5.1 Lollipop APIs and older versions.
Google’s reasoning behind this alteration is to enhance security and privacy, as older API levels are often more vulnerable to malware attacks due to their lack of modern security protections.
As a result of this tweak, many abandoned apps, such as older games and niche applications, cannot be installed on Android 14 devices. However, for users upgrading to Android 14, any existing older apps will remain on their device.
It’s worth noting that this change primarily impacts devices launching with Android 14 as the default operating system.
Selective Sharing of Photos and Videos
In Android 13 and earlier versions, when an app requested permission to access your photos and videos, your response was limited to a binary choice: either grant access (“yes”) or deny it (“no”).
However, Android 14 introduces a more refined level of control over this access.
This enhanced feature offers greater privacy protection by allowing you to specify which specific photos and videos the app can access, granting you the power to decide precisely what content the app is allowed to see.
This additional control ensures that your privacy is better preserved, as apps are limited to accessing only the images and videos you explicitly grant them access to.
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Improved PIN Privacy and the Choice to Remove the ‘OK’ Button
In Android Settings, a new feature allows users to disable animations when entering their PIN. This adjustment adds an extra layer of security by making it more challenging for “shoulder surfers” to observe and memorize your PIN.
This minor but significant change can potentially prevent unauthorized access to your phone. It’s worth noting that this feature is initially set to “off” by default.
Additionally, Android 14 simplifies the process of unlocking your device by removing the requirement to press an “OK” button after entering your PIN. Now, you can simply input your PIN, and your phone will unlock automatically.
However, this convenient feature applies only if your PIN consists of six digits or more.
Android 14 will enable this functionality automatically for longer PINs, but users who prefer the traditional “OK” button can manually reintroduce it if desired.
Improvements in Data Sharing
In Android 14, a significant privacy enhancement ensures that users are informed of any changes in app permissions and privacy policies.
Previously, users might remain unaware of such alterations unless directly contacted by the app’s developer.
However, Android 14 introduces a new feature: when an app modifies its terms and policies, users will receive a pop-up notification, providing them with immediate awareness of these changes.
This empowers users to stay informed and make informed decisions regarding the apps they use, enhancing transparency and privacy control.
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Android 14’s Additional Security Innovations
Google is bolstering its security efforts by implementing changes in the intents system and dynamic code loading, even though these modifications may not be directly visible to users.
These under-the-hood adjustments are designed to enhance the platform’s defense against malware and vulnerabilities, following the principle of “defense in depth.”
By fortifying these critical aspects of the Android system, Google aims to create multiple layers of security to better protect users from potential threats.
Android 14 introduces improved support for passkeys, marking a significant step towards a password-less future.
This enhancement not only enhances the convenience of user authentication but also contributes to strengthening security.
Password-less authentication methods, such as passkeys, biometrics, or other forms of secure authentication, offer a more robust defense against unauthorized access while streamlining the user experience.
This transition aligns with the broader industry trend of moving away from traditional passwords, which are often susceptible to breaches and provide a more user-friendly and secure means of access control.
Cross-Device Capabilities for Developers
Android has been on a persistent trajectory towards cross-device compatibility, and this momentum continues with Android 14.
However, in this iteration, the focus is squarely on developers, with the introduction of features like window size classes and the sliding pane layout.
These additions empower apps to adapt more seamlessly to various screen sizes and form factors, optimizing the user experience across a range of devices.
Additionally, Google is providing a preview of its cross-device software development kit (SDK), aiming to simplify the process for developers to create applications that perform effectively on diverse devices and form factors.
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While these enhancements may not introduce substantial user-facing cross-device improvements like Android 12L did, they mark a significant step forward by equipping developers with improved tools to ensure their apps function smoothly across a broader spectrum of devices beyond traditional smartphones.
A Mixed Bag of Confirmed Features
Here’s a glimpse of some additional features that are confirmed to be arriving with Android 14!
Bridging Health and Technology
The Health Connect app serves as a central hub designed to gather health data from a variety of fitness and health applications.
It offers support for data integration from prominent players in the health and fitness industry, including Samsung, Fitbit, and Peloton.
Previously, users had to download and install the Health Connect app manually. However, with the release of Android 14 beta 2, Google has announced a significant change.
Health Connect will now be integrated directly into the Android operating system, starting from Android 14.
This means that users will no longer need to go through the process of manual installation; the app will be readily available as part of the Android experience.
Additionally, automatic updates will ensure that users always have access to the latest features and improvements, contributing to a more seamless and convenient health tracking experience for Android users.
Personalizing Your Lock Screen
While Android users have long enjoyed the ability to customize their home screens with widgets, wallpapers, and icon packs, the lock screen has historically offered fewer customization options.
However, Android 14 is set to change this by introducing comprehensive lock screen customization.
Google showcased this feature at Google I/O 2023 and subsequently made it available to users through the third Android 14 beta release.
Now, with Android 14, users have the flexibility to personalize various elements of their lock screens, granting them greater control over the look and feel of their device’s initial display when waking it up.
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This expanded customization adds an extra layer of personalization to the Android experience, allowing users to make their lock screens uniquely their own.
At Google I/O 2023, Google introduced three innovative methods for creating custom wallpapers.
The first method allows users to generate an artificial parallax effect using their own images, as demonstrated with a picture of a child by David Burke.
The second method is an Emoji wallpaper creator, which enables users to select their preferred Emoji, choose colors, and create lively and colorful cartoon-themed layouts.
Lastly, Burke showcased a generative AI system capable of crafting wallpaper images based on text prompts.
While the first two wallpaper customization systems are set to be available when Android 14 officially launches, the generative AI system is expected to be introduced at a later date.
These additions offer users diverse and creative options for personalizing their device’s wallpaper, enhancing the overall customization and user experience on Android 14.
Smaller confirmed updates
Android 14 will now support lossless audio when using wired headphones.
Support for 10-bit HDR (aka Ultra HDR) is on the way, allowing it to retain more information from the sensor when taking photos and opening the door for more vibrant colors and greater contrast.
The Camera2 and CameraX extensions will see updates, allowing apps that use them to handle longer processing times. This will help improve use cases like low-light photography that rely on compute-intensive algorithms.
Android 14 will let enterprise and government users restrict a device’s ability to fall back to the insecure 2G standard.
Google is also letting users disable support for so-called “null-ciphered” cellular connections in Android. In other words, users can choose to only use encrypted cellular connections.
A new setting in Android 14 QPR1 lets you change the way the Pixel Fold behaves when you fold it. It now lets you keep apps open even when you close the phone.
Android 14 also lets you change the aspect ratio of apps so they’re shown in full-screen on foldables and tablets.
When you connect a Bluetooth device to an Android 14 device, you will be able to select its “audio device type.”
You can choose between Speaker, Headphones, Car Kit, Hearing Aid, or Other.
Other expected and rumored Android 14 features
In addition to the features and improvements officially confirmed by Google for Android 14, there are some noteworthy enhancements that either have prior confirmation or have been hinted at within Google’s code, providing a glimpse into what users can anticipate in this upcoming Android iteration.
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These unconfirmed but hinted features often generate anticipation among Android enthusiasts, as they represent potential enhancements that may enrich the user experience.
While not officially disclosed, such hints within Google’s code have historically been reliable indicators of upcoming features.
Android users can look forward to these additional features, even though they haven’t been officially confirmed by Google.
The combination of officially announced enhancements and these hints paints a promising picture of what’s in store for Android 14, making it an exciting and eagerly anticipated release for Android users and developers alike.
Find My Device updates
Google is taking inspiration from one of Apple’s standout features in the realm of device tracking for Find My Device. Android 14 appears set to introduce a capability that may enable users to locate their devices even when they are powered off.
Google is said to be developing its version of the Find My Device network, which would permit a switched-off device to send signals via Bluetooth to nearby Android devices.
These nearby devices can then relay the general location of the offline device.
Clues pointing to this feature were discovered in Android 14 QPR1, indicating that Google is actively working on this innovation to enhance device tracking and retrieval for Android users.
Floating search bar
Google is reportedly testing a new feature for the Pixel Launcher in Android 14, involving a floating search bar. This feature was discovered in the first beta for Android 14 QPR1.
When activated, the floating search bar appears above the keyboard instead of at the top of the screen while you’re in the app drawer.
It seamlessly integrates with popular keyboard apps like Gboard and SwiftKey and is expected to provide a similar experience for other Android keyboard applications.
This innovation aims to enhance the user experience by making search more accessible and convenient while navigating the device’s interface.
Google is potentially exploring the introduction of a new repair mode for its Pixel devices.
This mode bears a resemblance to the Maintenance Mode found in Samsung Galaxy devices, which generates a fresh user profile when phones are submitted for repairs.
In the case of Google’s repair mode, it appears to simulate a factory reset, potentially bringing the device back to its initial, out-of-the-box state.
To achieve this, Google could leverage a feature it introduced in Android 10 known as Dynamic System Updates (DSU).
DSU allows for the installation of a new system image without affecting user data, making it an ideal candidate for implementing a repair mode that resets the device to factory settings while preserving user data.
While details about how this repair mode for Pixels will function remain speculative, it could prove to be a valuable tool for device troubleshooting and maintenance, offering users a more efficient way to address software-related issues without the need for a full factory reset.
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Screen search gesture
Android 14 might introduce a fresh screen search gesture reminiscent of Google Now on Tap, a feature that Google retired with the launch of Google Assistant.
Clues discovered in Android 14 QPR1 indicate that users could potentially activate a screen search by pressing and holding the navigation handle, offering a convenient way to search content on their display.
Use any smartphone as a webcam
In Android 14, Google may enable any Android phone to function as a webcam, provided that device manufacturers choose to implement this feature.
This innovation could eliminate the need for third-party applications when transforming your phone into a webcam.
This development aims to offer users a more streamlined and native solution for utilizing their Android devices as webcams, potentially enhancing the overall video conferencing and communication experience.
In recent months, several prominent tech players such as Qualcomm, HUAWEI, and T-Mobile have made announcements regarding the integration of satellite communication capabilities into their devices and services.
The good news is that Google is following suit by introducing native satellite communication support in Android 14.
This development was shared in a tweet by Google executive Hiroshi Lockheimer back in September 2022.
However, the tweet did not provide specific details about the extent of this support, such as whether it includes two-way communications and support for various multimedia formats.
Nonetheless, the introduction of native satellite communication support in Android 14 is expected to simplify the integration of this feature for smartphone manufacturers and service providers.
One lingering question is whether the 2023 Pixel devices will incorporate this satellite connectivity feature.
As of now, it remains uncertain, and we’ll have to await further announcements to ascertain whether this technology will be part of Google’s upcoming Pixel lineup.
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Predictive back gesture
Android’s back gesture functionality has occasionally been perceived as unpredictable, leaving users uncertain about whether it will navigate them to the previous screen or return them to the home screen.
Fortunately, Google appears to be addressing this issue in Android 14.
Renowned tech journalist and code investigator, Mishaal Rahman, has unearthed evidence suggesting that Android 14 will introduce a default predictive back gesture feature, a shift from it being optional in Android 13.
This enhancement will provide users with a visual preview, allowing them to anticipate the destination of the back gesture, offering a more intuitive and user-friendly navigation experience.
Several OEMs offer a valuable feature allowing users to clone apps, particularly useful for managing two different accounts within the same application.
This involves creating a duplicate of the app and signing in with the secondary account in the clone, granting flexibility when using multiple accounts.
Recent indications suggest that Google is exploring the possibility of introducing app cloning as a native feature in Android 14.
If realized, this feature would eliminate the need to purchase phones from OEMs that support this functionality, as it would become accessible on all Android devices.
While it remains uncertain whether this feature will be included in the final Android 14 release, evidence suggests that Google is actively working on its development, potentially expanding the capabilities of Android for users who rely on multiple accounts within apps.
Bloatware, or pre-installed unwanted apps, is a persistent issue for many smartphone users, often stemming from carrier-specific software.
In some instances, when you insert your SIM card into a new phone, a barrage of software may be downloaded and installed in the background without your knowledge or consent.
To combat this problem, Google is actively developing a feature for Android 14 known as “Apps installed in the background.”
This feature is designed to address the issue of apps secretly downloading and installing on your device. It provides users with transparency by presenting a list of all apps that have been installed without their explicit action.
Furthermore, it offers the convenience of quick and easy uninstallation of these unwanted apps.
However, it’s important to note that this feature currently requires activation through hidden developer flags, which means it may not be available in the stable release of Android 14.
Its inclusion in the final release is uncertain but highly anticipated by users who seek greater control over the software installed on their devices.
App Pair saves
Android 14 introduces a feature known as “App Pair,” which enables users to open two apps simultaneously in a split-screen view.
Beyond this functionality, it appears that the operating system may offer the option to save these app pairs and create shortcuts on the home screen.
This convenient feature would allow users to swiftly relaunch their preferred app pairs by simply tapping the corresponding shortcut.
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Improved taskbar for foldables and tablets
Android expert Mishaal Rahman has uncovered indications that Google is actively developing several enhancements for the Android taskbar.
These potential additions include the introduction of a search bar in the taskbar, the display of recent apps in the taskbar (primarily in desktop mode), and the option for users to select between a permanent or transient taskbar.
Notably, many of these taskbar improvements are already available in Android skins offered by other smartphone manufacturers.
However, if integrated into Android 14, these enhancements could become accessible on a wider range of devices, including the Pixel Fold, Pixel Tablet, and devices from various OEMs.
It’s important to mention that these changes might be introduced in the Android 14 QPR1 release, though this remains to be confirmed.
Other spotted or rumored Android 14 features
- You could have the ability to automatically pair a URL with a shared screenshot of a web page. It’s unclear if this will be an Android 14 feature or part of a Pixel Feature Drop.
- Fast Pair in the Connected Devices menu.
- Advanced memory protection to protect against exploits (Armv9 silicon only).
- An update ownership feature that allows a third-party app store to be the sole source of automatic updates for a given app. It looks like Google will harness this feature for select Google apps too.
- Google is also reportedly working on optimizing the lock screen for landscape mode on phones.