These days, the development cycle for Google’s Android operating system is quite regular. After two developer previews, the business today made available the first of four public betas for Android 14. The first beta, like previous releases, is the first that anybody can download and install over-the-air on a Pixel device starting with the Pixel 4a 5G (but not the Pixel 4).
Official support for non-Google phones is still lacking. As always, keep in mind that they are betas for a reason, and they are still primarily for early adopters who simply can’t wait for the stable release, as well as for developers who want to test their apps with this new version. Things will break at some point.
For the most part, there aren’t many new features in this beta, although there are two user-focused UI updates worth checking out. The first is a new back arrow (yes — we’ve reached the point in mobile operating system history where new back arrows are pretty much the most exciting thing). As Google notes, the gesture navigation experience now includes “a more prominent back arrow when interacting with an app to improve the understanding and usefulness of back gestures”. This arrow will match 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 sharing goals.
Other than that, there’s not much that’s new 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-focused features at Google I/O next month. For now, however, this appears to be another evolutionary release.