The exciting news is here: Google has begun rolling out Android 14 to all Pixel smartphones and tablets that can run it. This significant update comes about a month after the final beta release, which marked the end of the development cycle. It’s also a bit later than originally expected, as there were discussions about it arriving on Tuesday, September 5, 2023. However, since September 4 was Labor Day in the United States, it’s now coming out a bit later.
Google chose to unveil this new software version during the launch event for the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Android 14 introduces a bunch of exciting changes, both in terms of how it looks and how it works. Some of these changes will be exclusive to Pixel devices, while others will be available for other smartphone manufacturers to use in their own versions of Android. Let’s dive into all the specifics.
As we mentioned earlier and as expected, Google, based in Mountain View, has officially begun the stable release of Android 14 for all compatible Pixel devices. This release marks the end of a lengthy development cycle that began on February 8 with the release of Developer Preview 1, spanning over six months and including multiple preview versions, such as two Developer Previews, five betas, and numerous bug-fixing updates.
This is the first official and stable version of Android 14, initiating a series of quarterly updates (known as QPR, Quarterly Platform Release) and Pixel Feature Drops, which are characteristic of Google’s ongoing development efforts. The first of these updates, Android 14 QPR1 beta 1, is expected to arrive this week.
For Pixel device owners, this update also serves as a Pixel Feature Drop, enhancing the experience with new features while incorporating the latest security patches updated to October 2023.
Android 14: What’s New
Until Android 9 (Pie), each version of the Android operating system was associated with a specific treat or dessert that started with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. Some notable examples include Android 4.4 KitKat and Android 8 Oreo. While this tradition has somewhat faded since Android 10 (Q), it still exists in a less prominent way.
For instance, Android 13 was internally referred to as “Tiramisù,” and Android 14, corresponding to the letter U, is known internally as “UpsideDownCake,” which is an inverted cake. While these dessert names may not be as widely publicized as before, they continue to be a fun part of Android’s development process.
Android 14 Easter Egg
In each version of Android, there’s a hidden Easter egg that can be found by repeatedly tapping on the “Android Version” in the “Settings > About the Phone > Android Version” menu.
The Easter egg for Android 14 is space-themed and was introduced during the development cycle. When activated, it displays the official Android 14 logo, which resembles NASA’s Apollo 14 mission logo. If you press and hold for a few seconds, the smartphone will vibrate, simulating the takeoff of a spaceship. Afterward, a sort of game will begin, allowing the user to control a spaceship in search of celestial bodies. However, there’s no way to win the game; it’s more of a fun interactive experience.
Aesthetic and personalization news:
Android 14 continues to refine the design philosophy of Material You, which was introduced by Google with Android 12 and further evolved with Android 13. The focus remains on maintaining a clean and undistorted design while introducing clever changes. These changes extend to the management of dynamic colors, which now permeate even the smallest details of the settings menu, creating a harmonious experience.
The most noticeable changes in Android 14 revolve around customization. Many of these customization options can be found within the Background and Style app, which has undergone significant revisions compared to previous versions. It’s now organized to separate customization for the home screen from customization for the lock screen, providing users with more control over the look and feel of their devices.
Customizable lock screen
In this regard, a great novelty is precisely the customizable lock screen: compared to the past, now, you can first change the design of the present watch, choosing from some options of style, font, size and color.
It is then possible to customize, finally, the two quick links present at the bottom, choosing between nine different possibilities (as long as the user chooses to take advantage of the link which, otherwise, can be hidden). The possibilities are:
- QR code scanner
- video camera
- Notes (only available if there is an app set as the default for Notes on your smartphone, another feature that will be introduced with Android 14)
- Wallet (only available if at least one payment card has been associated with the app)
- Don’t disturb
- Google Home Device Control
Emoji wallpapers and movie wallpapers: Another significant update in Android 14 is the introduction of new types of backgrounds by Google. These include emoji backgrounds and movie backgrounds, which have already garnered attention and were extensively discussed with the latest versions of Android 13. These new background options offer users more creative and expressive ways to personalize their devices with emojis or scenes from their favorite movies.
- onochrome Theme and Themed Icons: Android 14 introduces a monochrome theme that allows users to set their smartphones with highly contrasting dynamic colors, often using black and white. Additionally, themed icons have been revamped, offering more vivid options, although they may vary in readability depending on the theme colors.
- Font Size Quick Toggle: In the control center accessible by swiping down, a new “Font Size” toggle has been added. This feature allows users to easily adjust the font size with a simple tap.
- Separate Volumes for Call and Notification Ringtones: Android 14 separates the volume controls for call ringtones and notification sounds. Users can now set notifications to be silent while still receiving incoming calls with a ringtone.
- Access to Clock App: Tapping on the time in the control center now opens the Clock app, providing a quick way to access the clock.
- Optimized Energy Savings: The Energy Savings menu has been reorganized for better clarity. It offers two modes: “basic” and “extreme,” with the latter being more accessible. Users can also select apps to include in extreme power saving mode and set schedules for energy-saving activation. The “Adaptive Battery” feature, previously found in the “Adaptive Preferences” menu under battery settings in Android 13, is now included here.
- Renovated “Security and Privacy” Hub: The “Security and Privacy” hub, first introduced in Android 13 QPR1, has undergone slight changes in Android 14. Drop-down menus in some subsections have been replaced by corresponding submenus, providing a more visually consistent interface.
- Partial Screen Recording: Android 14 brings the ability to record or share a specific app or portion of the screen. Users can select “Record a single app” from the screen recording dialog, allowing them to choose which app to record from recent apps or the app drawer. This feature provides more control over screen sharing to prevent sharing unintended content.
- Enhanced Media Access Control: Android 14 offers improved control over which media files apps can access. Users can grant full access, no access, or partial access, selecting specific photos and videos for each app.
- Improved PIN Privacy: To enhance user privacy during PIN code entry for device unlock, Android 14 introduces a feature where only the enter and delete keys show animations. When users tap a number, a dot appears in the input field. Additionally, an option to remove the confirm button has been added, allowing for direct unlocking after entering the correct PIN.
- Accessibility and Inclusiveness Enhancements:
- Flash Notifications: Android 14 includes a “Flash Notifications” feature in the Accessibility settings. It flashes the LED of the camera, display, or both upon receiving notifications. Users can even choose the notification color on the display, providing accessibility support and reviving the concept of notification LEDs.
- Hearing Protection: A hearing protection feature assesses sound exposure when using headphones. It uses Computed Sound Doses (CSD) to analyze audio signals, prevent hearing damage, and adjust volume accordingly. Users receive alerts based on CSD thresholds to lower the headphone volume to a safer level.
- Larger Fonts and Non-linear Resizing: Android 14 allows users to increase font size by up to 200%, compared to the previous limit of 130% on Pixel devices. The operating system implements a non-linear resizing curve for characters, ensuring that text remains legible and proportional even when fonts are enlarged.
What’s new for the language supported by apps
With regard to languages, reasoning in terms of inclusivity, the Android 14 development team has included two new features:
- Language preferences by app
Developers can dynamically update their app’s localeConfig to customize the list of languages displayed within languages for each app, editable (user side) to the path ‘Settings > System > Languages & Input > App Languages’. In a nutshell, developers will be able to customize the various language lists region by region, possibly providing up-to-date locale.
- Grammatical Flex API
The new Grammatical Infection API allows developers to equip their apps with support for users who speak languages with grammatical gender, a language-related factor that cannot be easily circumvented in languages other than English.
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