Google’s Android development cycle runs at a rather predictable cadence these days. Today, after two developer previews, the company launched the first of four planned public betas of Android 14. As with previous versions, the first beta is also the first version that anyone can install wirelessly, assuming they have a supported Pixel device, going back to the Pixel 4a 5G (but not the Pixel 4).
There is no official support for non-Google phones yet. As always, keep in mind that these are betas for a reason and are still mostly aimed at 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, although there are two UI updates worth noting. The first is a new back arrow (yes, we’ve reached the point in the history of the mobile operating system where new back arrows are just about the most exciting thing). As Google points out, the gesture navigation experience now includes “a more prominent back arrow when interacting with an app to improve understanding and usability of the gestures.” This arrow corresponds to your wallpaper or device theme. Exciting things.
Developers can also now add custom actions to the system sharesheet, and the sharesheet will now be smarter about how it ranks your share goals.
Otherwise there isn’t much news here. Per-app language settings are here, as are Google’s previously announced new privacy settings.
I expect we’ll hear a little more about what’s new in Android 14 – and see more user-facing features – at Google I/O next month. For now, however, this appears to be another evolutionary release.