We’re now in the last month of Google’s development timeline
Google's Android 14 beta program is nearing its end, with July being the last month in the development timeline ahead of a potential stable release in August. What started five months ago with the first developer preview has evolved into a fairly polished build after countless bugs were squashed. Now, Android 14 Beta 4 has arrived with its own hefty list of bug fixes.
Downloads are now available, just a few days behind the rest of the Pixel family
Google's currently in the middle of maybe its biggest summer for new hardware in years, welcoming devices like the Pixel 7a, Pixel Tablet, and Pixel Fold to the party. Those new models all hit the ground running, and Google was quick to show them the same solid software support the Pixel name is known for. Last week marked the arrival of the July update for Pixel devices, and while we saw it land for the vast majority of hardware, the Pixel Fold was curiously absent. Today Google finally sets things right, releasing the Fold's July patch.
A small update following the big June Feature Drop
Google only published the big June Feature Drop with tons of new capabilities a few weeks ago, and now, the company is back on track with the regular security patch schedule. The July security update has been published, and it’ll roll out to Pixel phones soon. We’re looking at the usual few bug fixes, but don’t expect any big new additions until Android 14 launches in stable later this year.
With Android 12, Pixels gained the ability to share links from the Recents menu — now it's time for Asus devices to join the fun
Google's Pixel hardware leads the pack of the best Android phones around, and part of that success rests on loads of software features that you can’t find on other devices. Pixel-exclusive features like Now Playing, Live Translate, Call Screen, and more are so nifty that people jump through hoops to install ported/modded/replicated versions of them — or even custom ROMs that enable them. As a consequence, we're always happy to see when an effort is made to bring some of that functionality to other Android devices — and that seems to be what's happening right now.
ChromeOS is testing an option to change square corners to rounded corners
ChromeOS has had a clean and straightforward design for some time, but a big Material You-focused makeover is standing by for a stable release later this year. One missing piece in this redesign are ChromeOS's hard and pointy corners, which stand in contrast to both the browser's own tabs but also the design the company brought to Android in recent years. The latest ChromeOS Canary update offers a glimpse at what to expect with a flag that allows users to activate rounded corners at various pixel radius options, ranging from 8 to 18 pixels.
It's closed, though — so closed you need to sign an NDA
The TicWatch Pro 3 was launched all the way back in 2020, while the TicWatch E3 and Pro 3 Ultra were launched a year later, in 2021. Owners of these watches have been awaiting an update to Wear OS 3, Google's current watch experience, for a very, very long time. We got news about updates for Mobvoi's older range of smartwatches back in April, saying that users should expect to see Wear OS 3 in the third quarter of this year. Just as we're about to step into that third quarter, Mobvoi is officially opening a (restrictive) closed beta for those who are interested in seeing how well Wear OS 3 runs on their watches.
A new 'Shop' tab is invading your screen
Renting or purchasing movies on Android TV is currently a convoluted process. Depending on your device, you have to go through either Play Movies & TV or the Google TV app If you're looking for a first-party way to watch movies without having to subscribe to a streaming service. Google is now streamlining how you can discover content to buy or rent by introducing a new "Shop" tab to Android TV.
Switching between the new 'transient' taskbar and the old 'persistent' taskbar could soon be possible
In the aim of making Android more user-friendly on large screens, Google introduced a taskbar in Android 12L. The taskbar provides quick access to select apps on any screen, and, starting in Android 13, all of your apps through an app drawer. Android’s taskbar, when combined with the enhanced split-screen mode and recents overview UI on large-screen devices, makes for a delightful multitasking experience that was missing in older versions of the OS. As we get ready for the stable release of Android 14, Google may be considering giving users a new degree of control over their taskbar experience.
It looks Awesome, with a capital A
The way Android looks has changed drastically over the course of the last few years. And with Android's constant changes, its brand identity has also adapted over time. We've seen a few changes to Android's logo and brand identity over the years, with the bugdroid remaining a staple of Android's brand. The last change was in 2019, and saw Google use only the bugdroid's head in addition to a slightly refreshed font. We're used to getting a logo change every few years or so, and if you were worried Google was going to settle for what it has right now, it's not happening. Google is yet again redesigning Android's brand — and this time, it's going for a rather radical one compared to what we've seen before.
You might want to disable Emergency SOS for the time being
Emergency calls have been around forever, connecting phone users with life-saving services. But more recently, smartphones and wearables have given us some cool new ways to access that help, like crash detection and fall detection. Nevertheless, sometimes these systems go wrong, like they did earlier this year when Android phones started making accidental 911 calls — and now, it's happening again.
Android 14's platform stability milestone has us waiting eagerly
Android 14 has been available to public beta testers for a while now, and to developers for even longer. Samsung has been quick to start work on the new version, with reports suggesting One UI 6 based on Android 14 is undergoing internal testing ahead of a full-fledged launch in beta. Taking development further, Samsung is now expected to debut the first beta build of One UI 6 in July.
Material You for the win
Android's Multiple Users feature can be pretty handy, especially on shared devices. You can set up secondary profiles for work and other use cases, like when your nephew wants to borrow the phone for gaming, or your partner wants to change the color temperature of smart lighting. Google has made it quite easy to switch between two or more profiles, and now, the company is designing a new animation for when you do just that.
A quick update following last week’s Platform Stability release
A week ago to the day, Google dropped Android 14 Beta 3, which marked the Platform Stability release where APIs and other app-facing features are finalized to give developers time to get their apps ready before the new OS version's stable release later this summer. So after a somewhat rocky start, you could say that development of Android 14 has finally started hitting its stride.
The little things add up on large-screen devices
It's clear that one of Google's main goals with Android 14 has been to improve the tablet experience — just in time for the release of the company's new large-screen lineup, the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet. In earlier versions, we've found a massive new list of hardware keyboard shortcuts, support for touchpad gestures, and a new App Pairs feature for automatic split-screen multitasking, among other quality of life improvements for large-screen devices. Now, Android 14 Beta 3 has brought a subtle change for people who use an external mouse with their tablet.
Learning from AODs and dark mode
All the best Android phones today share a few features, like OLED displays, fantastic octa-core processors, and large batteries to power it all. However, two-day battery life has been the stuff of urban legend since the advent of modern smartphones, with power saving mode being the only saving grace. Android 14 has a new beta feature which could bring a few phones closer to the legendary two-day standby mark — wallpaper dimming.
There’s also “Gpay support for foldable devices”
Your Android phone, tablet, or watch does not always need a new software update to gain new features. Thanks to Play System Updates, Google can roll out minor but important underlying tweaks and changes without waiting for your device manufacturer. The company even publishes a monthly change log, making it easier to keep track of these additions. Google has now published the June 2023 Google System Updates release notes, highlighting the changes it brings.
Hey, that's why we have beta testing
Google’s first public beta for Android 14 felt a little undercooked, with plenty of annoying bugs and inoperable features. A point release followed soon after, fixing a handful of those issues, and Beta 2 came through with even more. Android 14 Beta 2.1 arrived late last month, and while that may have been the most polished build at the time, even it couldn't avoid the occasional glitch. After discovering a frustrating bug with the Google Camera app in Beta 2.1, we're happy to announce that it's now resolved with this week's release of Android 14 Beta 3.
New chip animation you may not notice
The Android community recognizes Android 12 as a watershed moment in the history of the OS’s design, because the update packed several visual improvements that made the UI feel modern again. Android 13 followed through with refinements and fleshed out the design philosophy Google embraced. Android 14 is undergoing beta testing now, and the latest build has a small Material You tweak to the charging animation in the status bar, which you may otherwise miss.
A slight change making Android 14 look more cohesive
Android 12 was a significant visual overhaul for our favorite mobile OS, with Material You dynamic theming being the most noteworthy inclusion. Android 13 made it even better, because many apps caught on to the dynamic theming trend, helping the Android system unify around a singular design identity. Material You principles have also evolved in the last few years, and the latest Android 14 beta is the first to feature Material Design 3 (MD3) switches all around.
There is a new tutorial accessible in the system settings
Gesture navigation has been with us on Android for a few years now, but it’s clear that not everyone has made the switch yet. Android 14 Beta 3 wants to make this easier with a redesigned gesture navigation tutorial that you can even access via system settings at any time — just in case you need a refresher on how gesture navigation works.