Google shows off some of its plans for Android 14 in the first developer preview of the operating system, available today. While it doesn’t tell us much about the consumer features we’ll be getting later this year, it does show Google’s continued focus on foldables, tablets, and other large-screen devices, as well as user customization.
Google’s blog post announcing the preview says Android 14 “builds on the work done in Android 12L and 13 to support tablets and foldable form factors” and lists several tools developers can use to ensure their apps “run anywhere Android runs”. The company is also updating and expanding its documentation on designing apps for large screens and foldable screens.
This focus is no surprise at all, given that Google has already announced a Pixel tablet for release in 2023 and rumors that it is about to unveil its own foldable phone. And as Google pointed out, it’s been working on this stuff for a while; Android 12L’s big new features, like a taskbar that’s meant to make multitasking easier and quick settings and two-column notifications, were clearly intended for large-screen and foldable devices.
We haven’t gotten many details yet on what kind of fun customizable features will come with the consumer version of Android 14. However, Google’s post says that the goal of Android 14 is to “ensure Android users can tailor their experience to their individual needs” by “including enhanced accessibility and internationalization features.”
Part of that effort includes increasing the maximum font scaling on Pixel devices from 130 percent to 200 percent, but in a way that prevents the text from getting too big. But given that text could grow significantly larger, developers will want to test their apps to make sure their user interface can handle it.
Google is also improving Android 13’s per-app language system and making it easier for developers to deal with grammatical gender.
The developer preview of Android 14 also introduces changes to low-level parts of the system intended to improve your device’s battery life and make it more responsive. Some changes are purely system-level, while developers may need to update their apps to play nice with others. (One specific change is that Google is encouraging developers to agree on how they schedule tasks at a specific time.)
There’s also a slew of privacy and security improvements, though most of the stuff is under the hood, at least for now. Apps for Android 14 will need to be more specific when using the Intents system, which allows them to interact with other app components, and any code they load must be read-only to avoid the possibility of code injection.
The developer preview is available if you have a Pixel 4a (5G) or newer and are willing to manually flash the system image on it. Not that I’d recommend doing that if you’re not actively developing Android apps – it’s nowhere near final release, so there will probably be more than a fair amount of bugs.
Google has given us an idea of Android 14’s release date. The post tells developers it expects to commit all changes to its APIs by June, with the official release “few weeks” after that, likely sometime in August.