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.