Android 14 is now rolling out to Google Pixel phones, and should be coming soon to phones from other companies.

Among other things, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system brings new customization features to the home screen and lock screen, updated privacy, security, and accessibility features, and automatic framing during video calls. Google is also rolling out a n October 2023 Feature Drop that brings a few extra features to Pixel-branded phones.

Some of those Pixel-exclusive features include:

  • The Lock Screen now supports custom clock and wallpaper collections, and support for customizing the lock screen quick actions and notification display.
  • Google is also offering new monochromatic themes for Pixel phones and tablets, giving your device’s app icons and other UI elements a more subdued look
  • A Google Camera update lets you switch between photo and video modes more quickly.
  • The Pixel Fold now supports a Dual Screen interpreter mode, letting you position the phone so that one speaker can see the inner display while the other views the outer, allowing Google to provide real-time translation to each person.
  • Battery Saver shows which apps are restricted and allows you to
  • Chromebook users can now use App streaming to interact with their smartphone apps on a ChromeOS device.
  • Pixel 6 and newer devices also now let you open RAW images into an editing app of your choice from Google Photos and they’ll also let you know if a USB cable is charging your device slowly (or isn’t charging it at all).

Don’t have a Pixel device? Some other user-facing updates coming to Android 14 may vary from device to device depending on which ones are implemented by your phone maker.

So while Google notes there’s a new customization picker that helps you set custom lock screen shortcuts or change wallpapers, I suspect this might be implemented differently on a Motorola phone than it is on a Samsung device.

But some features that are now baked into the OS include support for Ultra HDR images, with brighter highlights and darker shadows in photos you snap with cameras, Google’s Health Connect feature is now built into the operating system, allowing you to store encrypted health data in one place by connecting to third-party fitness apps, and updates to Data Sharing permissions, letting you know when an app is sending your location data to third-parties.

New accessibility features include support for pinching to zoom in and out from 100% when using the Magnifier tool, a Font Size Quick tile that lets you quickly adjust text size without digging into settings menus, and easier pairing for hearing aids.

Google is also encouraging (but not requiring) users to set 6-digit PINs for unlocking their devices rather than the 4-digit PINs of yore.

One thing Google hasn’t mentioned? Support for using your phone as a USB webcam, something we’d been hoping to see in this release. But it’s possible that there may be some additional features hiding in Android 14 that could be scheduled for a full release at a later time.

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    1. Well, to do that, the kernel would need to be rolling release too. To do that, every phone that’s been released would need to be able to run on this rolling release kernel. To do that, phones would all need standardized firmware and device manufacturers would have to be required to submit their patches to AOSP, and to do that they would need to have cellular carriers stop being so obstructive and demanding things like non-removable carrier apps and being locked to a particular carrier. And on top of that, there would need to be about 7 years of current releases on phones with standard firmware before enough phones had died out to not bother too many people with the switch to the new rolling kernel.
      And on top of that, Apple would have to go to rolling release too because how many people by cell phones, and how many people even know what rolling release is? Google doesn’t want to look like it’s behind on version numbers when there’s guys who will go on long angry rants about how many years ahead of everyone else Apple is.
      I’d be just fine with all these pre-requisites being met, but I know they won’t be. Because it would require devices to stop having carrier specific versions with their own kernels, carriers would have to start acting like VOIP service providers and ISPs that just have the ability to wake up your phone to let you know you’ve got a call, instead of acting like your phone physically cannot output the radio waves needed to communicate with the towers when it probably totally can.