Android 14 is the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, succeeding Android 13, which was released in 2022. Android 14 doesn’t represent a major overhaul, but rather brings incremental improvements and new features that refine the user experience.

The update started rolling out to Google Pixel devices in October 2023, with other phone manufacturers expected to release Android 14 updates for their devices later this year.

The new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro use Android 14 out of the box.

This guide will break down the key changes between Android 14 and its predecessor, Android 13, covering the main updates across areas like customization, privacy, security, connectivity, accessibility, and more.

UI & Customisation

Enhanced lock screen customization

One of the biggest areas of improvement in Android 14 is the ability to customize the lock screen. Building on the basic customization added in Android 13, Android 14 takes it further by letting users:

  • Choose from different clock styles and fonts
  • Set custom wallpapers or use AI-generated ones
  • Add widget stacks for at-a-glance info
  • Add shortcuts for quick access to apps
  • Adjust the color palette

This brings Android’s lock screen customization closer to the level offered by iOS.

Redesigned Back Arrow for Gesture Navigation

Android 14 introduces a redesigned back arrow for gesture navigation. The back arrow now sits in a Material You-colored bubble, adding visual flair to the navigation experience. Some apps, like Google News and settings, also support predictive back animations, which reveal the next screen as users drag their finger across the screen. This improvement enhances gesture navigation and provides users with a more intuitive and engaging navigation experience.

Improved System Share Sheet

Android 14 includes a significant enhancement to the system share sheet. Apps can now add custom actions to the share menu, allowing for a more personalized sharing experience. For example, Google Chrome can include custom sharing options like “Send to your devices,” “QR code,” or “Copy link,” eliminating the need for a separate custom share sheet. Additionally, the share menu has been decoupled from the system, enabling independent updates through Project Mainline. This change ensures that improvements to the share sheet can be delivered to all Android 14 devices, regardless of system updates.

App pairs

Android 14 introduces a new “app pairs” feature that lets you group two frequently used apps together. When you open an app pair in split-screen mode, you can close or minimize both apps together rather than having to do it individually. This streamlines multitasking between commonly used app combinations.

Privacy

Photo picker for media access

Android 14 brings a significant improvement to managing app permissions for photos and videos. Instead of granting full access to an entire library, users can select individual photos and videos that an app can access. This ensures apps only see relevant media rather than your entire collection.

Runtime permission changes

If an app changes its permission policies after you accept them, Android 14 will now notify you about the changes so you can review them. This prevents apps from covertly expanding data access without your knowledge.

Security

No sideloading older apps

In a major security enhancement, Android 14 blocks the installation of apps targeting Android 5.1 Lollipop and older. Google says this specifically targets older apps that may contain security flaws or malware. While some niche apps may be blocked, this change eliminates a key vector for malware.

Interface Tweaks and Delightful Enhancements

Android 14 brings several small but delightful interface tweaks that enhance the overall user experience. The battery saving mode toggle has been revamped, providing a more intuitive and user-friendly interface. Home screen pop-ups, share sheet enhancements, and a new monochromatic theme further enhance the visual appeal of Android 14. These interface improvements contribute to a more cohesive and enjoyable user experience.

Additionally, Android 14 introduces a new clipboard overlay that appears when using the keyboard. This overlay displays the text copied to the system clipboard, allowing users to easily modify the text before pasting. The minimized clipboard overlay appears when the keyboard is open, optimizing screen space and ensuring a seamless typing experience.

PIN Security and Convenience

Android 14 includes improvements to PIN security and convenience. When entering a PIN, users will now experience new lock screen animations where individual numbers appear with accompanying shapes. This visual enhancement adds a touch of elegance to the PIN entry process. Furthermore, Android 14 introduces an auto-confirm unlock feature for PINs with six digits or more. With this feature enabled, the device unlocks instantly when the correct PIN is entered without the need to press an extra enter button. This enhancement streamlines the unlocking process and improves user convenience.

Other security enhancements

Additional Android 14 security changes include:

  • Stricter restrictions on launching activities from the background
  • Preventing zip path traversal vulnerabilities
  • Requiring user consent for each MediaProjection screen capture
  • Safer dynamic code loading for apps targeting Android 14

Connectivity

Bluetooth LE Audio support

Android 14 introduces support for the new Bluetooth LE Audio standard. This brings improvements like higher quality audio, lower latency, and lower power consumption compared to classic Bluetooth audio.

Lossless USB audio

Wired headphone users will appreciate that Android 14 supports lossless audio over a USB connection. This allows you to take full advantage of high-end headphones and DACs without any loss of audio quality over the wire.

Accessibility

Expanded font scaling

Android 14 dramatically improves text scaling, allowing fonts to be scaled up to 200% larger rather than the previous 130% limit. This makes Android devices much more accessible to users with visual impairments.

Other accessibility additions

Other notable accessibility upgrades include:

  • Non-linear font scaling for better text readability at larger sizes
  • Automatic detection of large text for screen readers
  • New APIs to support braille displays

Under the hood improvements

While not flashy new features, Android 14 brings a range of under-the-hood improvements that still benefit the user experience.

Battery life optimizations

Various changes are aimed at extending battery life, such as tweaks to background activity management and more efficient wireless file transfers. Users can also easily check screen usage since last charge.

Quality of life improvements

Smaller quality-of-life changes include separate notification/ringer volumes, easier Wi-Fi sharing, improved gesture navigation, and more detailed app storage management.

Biometric authentication

Android 14 introduces a biometric authentication API that allows apps to use fingerprint/face unlock instead of passwords for user sign-ins.

When will you get Android 14?

The Android 14 update is already rolling out to Pixel phones and will come to other devices later this year. Here’s an overview of when you can expect to see Android 14 arrive for some popular brands:

  • Google Pixel – Available now for Pixel 4a 5G and newer
  • Samsung – Flagships like S22 first, followed by mid-range/budget devices
  • OnePlus – Flagships (OnePlus 10 onwards) by end of 2023
  • Xiaomi – Flagships (Xiaomi 12 onwards) by early 2024
  • Oppo, Realme – 2023 flagships by end of 2023, other devices in 2024

So in summary, Android 14 builds on Android 13 with deeper customization, improved privacy and security, and various quality-of-life updates. Key changes include the new lock screen, photo picker, app pairs, biometric logins, and expanded font scaling. While not revolutionary, Android 14 moves the platform forward with thoughtful refinements.

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