Testers are advised to opt out if they want the stable December Pixel Feature Drop
Android 14 got off to a late start, but Google quickly moved to get things back on schedule with its beta program for Android 14 QPR1, otherwise known as the December 2023 Pixel Feature Drop. Beta testing on this version has moved along quickly — perhaps faster than any of us were expecting, as Google is already done testing this version and has kicked off the beta program for its next Quarterly Platform Release. Android 14 QPR2 Beta 1 is now here with our first glimpse of the March 2024 Pixel Feature Drop.
A new way to upgrade Google's foundational AI models
These days, no self-respecting tech company would be caught dead without some buzzworthy AI features in its back pocket. On the same day Google debuted Android 14, it simultaneously took the wraps off its Pixel 8 series, and the company sent presenter after presenter onto the stage to brag about all the new AI functionality in its latest products. It was fairly impressive, even if some of those features still needed time to cook. Now, Google has launched a new system app that looks to help carry these machine learning features forward on Android 14 devices.
Over one billion devices benefit from ART code size optimizations, leading to 50 to 100MB saved per device
Google released a new version of the Android Runtime (ART), which is in charge of translating apps’ bytecode into native instructions. According to the company, the new version is more efficient than its predecessor and uses up about 9% less code without any performance penalties. This allows memory and storage savings of about 50 to 100MB per average Android device, resulting in 47 to 95 petabytes saved on all supported devices globally.
More options have arrived for low-vision and hard-of-hearing users
Google rolled out Android 14 on its flagship phones in early October. The rest of the Android family, from Samsung's leading phones to Motorola, will receive the most anticipated upgrade in the upcoming days (or months). So, to get ready for what Android 14 has in store, we go over some of the best accessibility features Android 14 has to offer.
Google patched a loophole that allowed apps to stay active in background infinitely
Many people who upgraded their Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 6 units to Android 14 reported better heat management and battery life. This is thanks to a ton of power-saving optimizations, among them event scheduling and app caching improvements. It turns out the company is also fighting bad actors who try to get around background app limitations with the new operating system.
Android 14 gives apps the long-awaited ability to span content across both screens of a foldable, opening up new possibilities
When Google unveiled the Pixel Fold back in May, one of the features it said wouldn’t be available at launch was dual screen interpreter mode, a feature that utilizes the foldable’s inner and outer screens to display live translations. Dual screen interpreter mode rolled out with the Pixel Fold’s Android 14 update, and to date, it remains the only feature to make use of both screens on Google’s foldable. Fortunately, that might not be the case for much longer, since the Android 14 release quietly opened up the ability for third-party apps to make use of both screens on foldable phones.
Thankfully, the November 2023 security patch contains a fix for this bug
Some Pixel 6 users got a rude shock after updating their phone to Android 14, as they were locked out of their phone's internal storage. The issue primarily affected Pixel users who had multiple user or guest profiles set up. Following an increasing number of reports, Google acknowledged the bug and confirmed it was working on a fix. Late last week, the company made the patch available for affected users through a test, noting a wider release could commence in the next two weeks. That fix is now rolling out as a part of the November 2023 security patch, with more insight also being available on what exactly went wrong.
Fixes for bugs and vulnerabilities are heading to a Google Pixel near you
Android 14 took a little longer to make its debut than we were expecting, but after going public alongside the release of the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, development seems to be chugging along. Google's beta program has already started testing the December Pixel Feature Drop, and right on time, the company has begun to roll out its first official update to Android 14 for eligible Pixel phones.
Turns out you don’t have to enable developer options when an app uses custom animations
Google added new back animations to Android 14 that allow you to see the next step ahead of finishing the gesture. To use this, you need to activate predictive back gestures in your system setting's developer options. However, the latest update of Google Calendar makes clear that apps don't even need developer options to be enabled to display Predictive Back Gestures.
If your phone is stuck in a boot loop, your only option is a factory reset
An inadvertent bug in Android 14 has locked many Pixel users out of their phone's internal storage. The issue primarily affects Pixel devices with multiple users or guest profiles. Following reports and complaints from numerous Pixel 6 owners since Android 14's release, Google acknowledged the bug. In its response, the company noted that a fix was in development and rolled out a Google Play System update to ensure more users were not affected by the issue. Google has now confirmed that it will roll out a fix for affected Pixel users locked out of their phone's storage in the next two weeks.
Squashing more bugs than Starship Troopers
Android 14 wasn't even officially available when Google launched the beta program for its next major release, the December Pixel Feature Drop, otherwise known as Android 14 Quarterly Platform Release 1. This is the version that's expected to bring a round of features that were advertised with the Pixel 8 series, but not available at the time of launch — things like Video Magic Eraser and an improved Smart Reply. And it should also bring a nice selection of new functionality to older Pixels, so you'll be happy to know that development is churning along nicely.
Google is working on Android 14 QPR1, and Apple has released iOS 17.1, but which is better?
While Google only launched Android 14 in October 2023 alongside the Google Pixel 8 Pro and its smaller sibling, Apple is already one step ahead with a big update to its 2023 operating system, iOS 17.1. At the same time, Google is working on its next major update to Android 14, slated to arrive at the end of the year as the December Feature Drop. Let's look at the two operating systems and see what they focused on this year, which does what better, and if there is a clear winner.
The Clock app gets a helping hand from weather data
Smartphones have replaced several standalone gadgets which served singular functions, such as calculators, alarm clocks, notepads, and physical calendars. All our favorite Android smartphones have some variation of the Clock app, and Google’s Pixel series ships with the company’s own variation as well. Besides telling you the time, Google could make the Clock app even more useful with weather data which would show up in widgets and alongside your morning alarm.
You will have to wait for the fix to be available
Android 14's rollout has been relatively smooth for Google, with many Pixel 6 and 7 owners reporting longer battery life and better thermal performance after the update. But it was not exactly perfect, as Android 14 locked some Pixel owners out of their phone's storage. The issue primarily seemed to affect users with multiple user or guest profiles. Google has acknowledged the problem and confirmed a temporary fix is rolling out.
The future of gestures on Android is here. Here's how to use it
Android 14 is full of new features, most found behind the scenes. A couple of years after Google gave us a new look for our favorite smartphones with Material You, the last two upgrades have focused on upgrading elements you might not think about every day. Security, privacy, and speed are three aspects that Android 14 excels at, but Google didn't stop there. A new addition to gestures could change how you think about swiping between apps on your new Pixel 8 Pro, but you need to activate predictive back gestures to see it in action.
Reducing background activity by 50% without sacrificing functionality
We've talked about it before, but Android 14 really seems to make a difference when it comes to performance. With the advent of Feature Drops, major OS version bumps aren't as packed to the brim with user-facing changes as they once were. But Android 14 has several major improvements that users will surely notice even if they're not visual upgrades or new functionality: Google has changed the way the system handles RAM and processor workloads, and the end result should be significant performance gains.
A version for the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro is 'coming soon'
The Pixel 8 and 8 Pro have several advertised features that are yet to launch, such as Zoom Enhance, Video Boost, and the ability to use the temperature sensor to check a human's temperature. We're expecting most of these to come as part of the December Pixel Feature Drop due out in about a month and a half. Testing for this new version is already underway, as Google has opened up the Android 14 Quarterly Platform Release 1 (QPR1) beta program. Today, the next major update for Pixel phones just got one step closer to release.
Don't let these issues spoil your Pixel 8 experience
The Google Pixel 8 is here with a stylish but ergonomic design and powerful AI features. But it's not all good news. While our review praised the feature-packed flagship, there are a few issues you should be aware of, whether you're considering picking one up or are trying to solve problems you encountered.
Moving content between apps is easy — when you know how to do it
Android 14 is here, and while Google kept its best features exclusive to its Pixel lineup, plenty of new features are coming to your phone soon. While some of this update's best content is hidden behind the scenes, you'll find some crucial new tools perfect for multitasking, especially if you haven't upgraded to one of our favorite foldables. Whether you're rocking a Google Pixel 8 Pro or a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra running the One UI 6 beta, here's how to drag and drop between apps on Android 14.
These under-the-hood memory management tweaks might be game changers
Android's has historically pushed the limits with cutting-edge developments. But when new systems are implemented, they have a tendency to break existing functionality, so updates can sometimes decrease battery life and performance. Android 14 is bucking these trends by focusing more on refinement than new features, and there are a handful of changes that should help with memory management in particular.