The most popular mobile operating system in the world now has a new version, Android 14, that claims to make privacy, security, and performance better. Additionally, Google, which oversees the OS, has worked hard to enhance the experience for bigger screens such as laptops and folding smartphones. Android 14 is going out to devices that can get it today. We’ll break down the things that have caught our attention here.
In case you were asking, Google stopped using alphabetical names for Android desserts with Android 10, but the versions are still codenamed using the same system. This year’s U letter treat is Upside Down Cake, which was last year’s Tiramisu. Let’s proceed.
Steps to Get and Set Up Android 14
You can now get Android 14 on Google Pixel phones that are younger than Pixel 4A 5G. Just click on Check for update after going to Settings > System > System update.
Google Pixel phones always get Android updates first. This year, the update should come to phones made by Samsung, Asus, HMD (Nokia phones), iQOO, Lenovo, Motorola, Nothing, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sony, Tecno, Vivo, or Xiaomi instead. Some of these devices can join the Android 14 beta program right now if you can’t wait. Google has a list of makers here. Because bugs and other problems are likely to happen, we don’t suggest downloading the Android 14 beta on your main phone. First, make a copy of your Android phone. If you don’t, you could lose something important.
Most of the time, updates will happen on their own, but you can always go to Settings > System > System update and tap Check for update to make sure you have the most recent version. Have you decided to leave the test and return to Android 13? Scroll down on Google’s Android Beta page until you see your device. Then click “Opt it out.” You should make a backup of your device before you do this because it will delete all locally saved data. You can return to the older version when it asks you to update.
Read your manufacturer’s website, forums, or social media to find out when Android 14 will be available if you don’t have a Pixel or a device in the test program.
The 14 best features of Android
We’re talking about our best new and improved features in Android 14. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it seems like a pretty small step up from the last version. Visit Google’s developer site to find out more.
Changes to make
You could change your home screen for a long time, but with Android 14, you can change your lock screen even more. You can choose your own lock screen, use one of the templates, use a monochromatic style, and use Ultra HDR images. Also, you can use your own pictures to make wallpapers with a parallax effect, your favorite emojis to make cartoon-style wallpapers, and even text prompts to make generative AI wallpapers.
Better battery life
There isn’t a big feature here, but Google has put a lot of work into making Android more power-efficient. Some tweaks to the operating system and changes to how it handles downloads, uploads, and background tasks should help Android phone users get a little more use out of their batteries. Also, it looks like the battery settings menu no longer has the choice to see “screen time since last full charge.” This feature was taken away in Android 12.
Google Pixel phones could only change to a bigger font by 130% in Android 13, but you can change to a bigger font by up to 200% in Android 14. Therefore, the system uses nonlinear scaling to avoid strange layouts. This means that any words that are already bigger (like headings) won’t get bigger, which makes the text easier for people who are blind or have low vision to read.
Flashes of notifications
You can set the camera and screen flashes to go off when you get a notice in Android 14. Other Android phones (like Samsung phones) and iPhones have had this feature for years, but it hasn’t been built into the operating system. You can pick which color your screen will flash and turn on either one or both. This is mostly made to help people who have trouble hearing, but it can also help anyone who doesn’t want their phone to buzz or make a noise every time they get a message.
Better Support for Hearing Aids
Additionally, Android 14 will no longer mix hearing aids with other Bluetooth devices, which is good news for people who have trouble hearing. Now there is a page just for hearing aids where you can customize which sounds go to them and which ones play through their speakers. And to keep your ears healthy, Android 14 will pop up a message when you’ve been listening to loud music for too long.
Better help for big screens
Google’s first announcement in the early developer preview was to help app makers who are trying to make apps that work well on a range of screen sizes. As developers get access to more tools and design tips, we can expect apps that work well on tablets, smartphones, and folded phones. In the same way that Apple has made it easy for apps to work on iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, this would make it easy for apps to work on any device.
When you give an app access to your pictures and videos, it can either access them all or none at all. If that bothers you, Android 14 now lets you choose which photos and videos the app can access. Apple added a feature like this in iOS 14.
For this reason, Android 14 won’t let you run apps from Android 5.1 and earlier. Malware usually targets older versions of Android to avoid the security improvements in newer versions. A few other changes have been made behind the scenes to improve security, but the most important change is better support for authentication with passkeys, which lets you use biometric login instead of passwords for more apps.
Safe PIN code
With Android 14, the simple PIN has another security and usability improvement. Others won’t be able to see your numbers as easily if you turn off the graphics that show up when you enter your PIN. You can also remove the OK button at the end of your PIN if it is six characters or longer. Instead, it will only open when you enter the last number.
Safety for Data
It’s not as easy as it should be to keep track of what games and apps are doing with your info. The app’s terms of service may say that it can access certain data, but what if that app is bought by another company or their terms of service change for some other reason? What if they then decide to sell your data to marketers or other third parties? Android 14 will let you know once a month if an app’s data-sharing settings have changed.
No matter if you like the weather in Celsius or Fahrenheit, if you like Monday or Sunday as the first day of the week, or if you like certain calendars or numbers, you can set these options systemwide in Android 14 and they will stay the same even when you back up and restore your phone. It now works better with specific languages like French, and you can change the language to fit your area better.
Predictive Back Hand Movements
For easier gesture navigation, Google has added a big back arrow that fits your theme or wallpaper. When combined with predictive back movements, which show you a preview of the screen where a swipe-back will take you, it should be easier for people to figure out how to get around and land. It’s not clear in Android where a back swipe will take you right now; sometimes it takes you to the home screen, sometimes to a previous screen, or sometimes to an app.
You could use a different app for your smart scales, running, and sleep tracking. Even though it’s still in beta, Google’s Health Connect app lets you share your health and exercise data across different apps and services. Android 14 devices already have the app installed, and it will update itself immediately.
Better ways to share
The Android share bar has not always worked the same way on all devices and apps for a long time. Google now lets apps add their own actions to system share sheets, and more app data is being used to rank the people you might want to share with. The sharing menu should be more consistent and useful now, showing only the apps and people you want to share with.