Android 14's stable version is nearly here, but the public release is a few weeks away. Google has taken a step towards this major transition by unveiling Beta 5, the final pre-release build. This version, which includes finalised SDK and NDK APIs, as well as system behaviours for apps, is now open for feedback from both enthusiasts and regular users. Developers should gear up to ready their applications for the upcoming OS.
Beta 5 introduces a range of fixes and optimizations that were not part of Beta 4.1 from last month. While the user-facing changes are minimal as Google wraps up the Beta Program ahead of Android 14's official launch, this build marks an important step by raising the security patch level to August 2023.
Google labels this final beta update as a "release candidate," indicating its readiness to transition to stable status, barring unforeseen issues. It's worth noting that Google has previously introduced incremental upgrades for new beta launches, which could also be the case for Beta 5. Nonetheless, the core codebase of Android 14 is fully prepared for deployment.
Android 14 Beta 5 is now accessible for download on compatible Pixel devices, including the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet. If you're already running an older beta version, you'll receive an OTA notification for the update. Alternatively, you can manually update your Pixel phone using the provided firmware files and Google's Android Flash Tool.
Android 14 Key Features and Enhancements
Enhanced Battery Life: Android 14 prioritises efficiency enhancements, reducing power consumption. Background task management, downloads, uploads, and other optimizations collectively contribute to extended battery life. Additionally, the return of the "screen time since last full charge" feature aids battery management.
Flexible Font Scaling: Android 14 allows font scaling up to 200 per cent, using nonlinear scaling to ensure legibility for those with vision impairments while preventing layout distortions.
Notification Flashes: Android 14 introduces camera and screen flashes for notifications, catering to individuals with hearing loss or those who prefer visual alerts over sound or vibration.
Improved App Adaptation: Developers receive more tools and design guidance to create apps that seamlessly adapt to various screen sizes, similar to Apple's approach.
Selective Photo and Video Access: Android 14 grants users control by enabling them to specify which photos and videos an app can access, enhancing privacy.
Advanced Security: Android 14 restricts the installation of older apps from Android 5.1 and earlier, bolstering security. Biometric login via passkeys is now supported for additional apps.
Regional Preferences: Users can customise system settings for temperature units, week start day, calendars, numerals, and gendered languages, with improved support for region-based language options.
Satellite Connectivity: Android 14 introduces support for satellite connectivity, potentially improving connectivity in remote areas without cell service.
Predictive Back Gestures: Gesture navigation becomes more intuitive with a matching back arrow and predictive back gestures, offering a clearer understanding of navigation paths.
App Cloning: A test feature allows the use of two accounts simultaneously within the same app, enhancing convenience.
Health Connect: Google's Health Connect app centralises health and fitness data for sharing across different apps and services, although it remains in beta.
Enhanced Share Options: Google enhances the Android share menu by allowing apps to add custom actions to system share sheets, resulting in a more consistent and useful sharing experience.
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