After two developer previews, Google has launched the first of four public betas for Android 14. As usual, users with a Pixel device, going back to the Pixel 4a 5G can install the update over the air. There’s no official support for non-Google phones just yet.
There aren’t any groundbreaking new features included in this release, but a couple of UI changes might make your phone a tad easier to use. First up, Google is adding a new back arrow to “help improve back gesture understanding and usefulness”. Going along with Google’s Material You design, the arrow will match your wallpaper and overall device theme.
Secondly, developers can now add custom actions to the system sharesheet. The sharesheet itself is now smarter about how it ranks your sharing targets. This means that you no longer have to dig up that specific contact you keep sharing files and media with as Android will now use more app signals to determine the ranking of direct share targets.
As promised, per-app language settings are present as well allowing for dynamic customisation of the set of languages displayed in the Android settings per-app language list. This also gives the system a way to know the UI language of the currently active app, ensuring that keyboards launch in the corresponding language, instead of the user having to manually change it every time.
The privacy changes promised by Google are also present. The update introduces the accessibilityDataSensitive attribute that focuses on allowing apps to limit the visibility of specific views only to accessibility services claiming to help users with disabilities. Play Protect has also been updated to ensure that apps downloaded from the Play Store actually use accessibility services to help disabled users, instead of sneakily taking over users’ phones. Talkback and other services aimed at helping disabled users however won’t be affected by the change.
Overall, apps can use the accessibilityDataSensitive attribute to protect user data and prevent critical actions like transferring money or checking out a shopping app from being executed unintentionally. Otherwise, as mentioned before there aren’t many new changes in the first public beta. Android’s development cycle has been rather predictable ever since Android 12 came out and from what we see so far, it seems like Android 14 is just going to be another evolutionary update. We expect to hear more about it in Google I/O coming up next month.
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