Google has scheduled the highly anticipated release of Android 14 to the general public in August or September of 2023. As a precursor to the official launch, the beta version of the operating system is now accessible to Pixel users for testing purposes.
Although still under development, the Android 14 Beta encompasses a range of exciting features and enhancements that are expected to be included in the final release.
Here is an overview of the noteworthy additions in the initial Android 14 Beta:
A Revamped Back Navigation Gesture
The Android 14 Beta introduces a fresh back arrow for users employing gesture navigation. This arrow now adheres to the Material You theme, dynamically adapting to the color scheme of the phone’s wallpaper or theme.
Furthermore, this updated back arrow complements the predictive back animations featured in Android 14, offering a preview of the screen that will be navigated to when swiping across the phone’s display to go back. This enhances user experience by reducing ambiguity in Android’s back gesture functionality.
An Enhanced Share Sheet
The Share sheet has always been a powerful tool for data sharing across apps on Android. In Android 14, Google takes it a step further by allowing apps to add custom actions to the share menu. While some Android apps already utilize custom share sheets for this purpose, Google is introducing a new API in the Android 14 Beta to streamline the process, enabling apps to display additional actions within the native share sheet.
Another enhancement to the Share sheet in Android 14 is the ability to preview all the photos being shared, which was previously limited to three images. This improvement provides users with a more seamless and convenient sharing experience.
Faster and More Secure PIN Entry
The Android 14 Beta enhances the security of using a PIN to unlock the device by allowing users to disable the PIN entry animation. This option, which was already available for disabling pattern trail animation, helps protect against shoulder surfing attacks by preventing the buttons on the keypad from being highlighted when tapped, making it harder for others to observe the entered PIN.
Additionally, for PINs with six or more digits, Android 14 automatically recognizes when the correct numbers have been entered without the need to press the Enter key for verification, improving the PIN entry process.
Separate Ringtone and Notification Volume Sliders
Finally, in Android 14 Beta, Google has addressed a long-standing user request by providing separate volume sliders for ringtones and notifications. This allows users to adjust the sound levels for incoming calls and notifications individually, providing more granular control over audio settings.
While some third-party Android skins have offered this feature in the past, it is now officially available in Android 14.
The Android 14 Beta introduces several accessibility improvements. Users can now scale text size by up to 200%, compared to the 130% limit in Android 13. To ensure that larger font sizes do not result in UI issues, Google has implemented non-linear font scaling, preventing content from being cut off due to excessive scaling.
Another notable accessibility addition is the support for Flash notifications, allowing users to set their phone’s display or camera LED to flash whenever new notifications are received. Additionally, users now have the option to choose between Imperial or Metric measurement styles, regardless of their location, providing greater customization for accessibility needs.
Google’s Ongoing Efforts in Android 14 The beta cycle for Android 14 will continue until the final release in August or September, specifically for compatible Pixel phones.
During this period, Google is expected to continue adding more features and possibly removing some, as they continually improve and refine the OS. However, it’s important to note that the availability of these features may vary on non-Pixel phones, as manufacturers have the discretion to include or exclude certain Android features in their custom skins.