Google has announced the launch of the first planned public beta release of Android 14. As with previous versions, the first beta is also the first release that anyone can install over the AI, assuming they have a supported Pixel device, going back to the Pixel 4A and 5G.
This announcement was made by Google on Thursday morning, after this developer’s preview.
There’s no official support for non-Google phones yet. As always, keep in mind that these are betas for a reason and are still mostly meant for developers who want to test their apps against this new version and early adopters who just can’t wait for the stable release. Things can and will break.
For the most part, there aren’t many new features in this beta version, though there are two user-facing UI updates worth calling out. The first is a new back arrow. As Google notes, the gesture navigation experience now “includes a more prominent back arrow while interacting with an app to help improve back gesture understanding and usefulness.” This arrow will match your wallpaper or device theme. Exciting stuff.
Developers will now also be able to add custom actions to the system sharesheet, and the sharesheet will now be smarter about how it ranks your sharing targets.
Google has also made several under-the-hood improvements with this release. These include optimizations for battery life and performance, privacy enhancements like app permission control over microphone access from apps that are idle or running in the background, support for foldable devices, and more.
Overall it looks like Android 14 will be yet another incremental update to one of the world’s most popular mobile operating systems but there should still be plenty here to keep users happy until we get closer to its official launch later this year.
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