Google plans to release Android 14 this fall, but the first developer preview is already available for testing. You can download builds for the the Pixel 4a 5G and newer phones or set up the Android Emulator to support Android 14 Developer Preview 1.
Among other things, Android 14 is designed to better support tablets and foldables, work better for users with limited vision, better manage tasks running in the background, and combat malware.
Unfortunately one side effect of Google’s effort to improve security is that you may not be able to install some older apps on devices running Android 14. Google says that’s because “malware often targets older API levels to bypass security and privacy protections introduced in newer Android versions.”
So the company says that devices that Android 14 won’t let you install apps that target Android API level 22 or lower. In other words, if an app was designed to run on Android 5.1 or earlier and was never updated to support newer versions of Android, you won’t be able to install it on an Android 14 devices.
Google says that if you’re using a device with some of those apps already installed and then update to Android 14, you won’t lose your old apps. You just won’t be able to install any new apps targeting API level 22 or earlier. You may also see a warning if you install an app targeting Android 8.1 or earlier (API Level 27).
According to Google, it chose this cutoff because there’s malware that specifically targets those older API levels in order to avoid security and privacy features implemented with API level 23/Android 6.0.
On a more positive note, Google has introduced a bunch of new features for developers that should make it easier to develop apps that play well with tablets and foldables, and an accessibility feature that allows users to scale fonts up to 200% (the previous limit was 130%).
While Google’s Android 14 DP1 announcement is geared toward developers and doesn’t delve deeply into new user-facing features, folks are already starting to dig in and report on their findings. Here are a few changes:
- The predictive back gesture gives you a preview of what will happen when you start to swipe.
- There’s an “allow guests to use phone” toggle that lets guest users access your phone call history.
- You may be able to decide which photos or videos apps have access to.
- Battery usage stats show the screen on time again.
- The taskbar that appears on tablets now shows text labels as well as app icons.
- Health Connect is baked in, allowing health and fitness data to be shared between different apps. Previously you needed to install an app to enable this functionality.
- There’s initial support for app cloning, allowing you to install two instances of the same app so you can use multiple accounts at the same time. It’s unclear whether this will be included in the stable release of Android 14 this fall.