Amidst all the excitement of Google I/O 2023, the second beta of Android 14 was quietly released to a select few Pixel phones, bringing with it a handful of new features.
Chief among these is the data sharing tool getting a “new section in the location runtime permission dialog”. According to the Android Developers Blog (opens in new tab), the tool will let you know when an app on your phone “shares location data with third parties, where [you] can get more information [on the process], and control the app’s data access.” Additionally, users will receive a “periodic notification” if any app suddenly begins sharing data with third parties so you’re not caught unaware. Google states the revamped data sharing will work with apps from other online stores; not just whatever you download from the Play Store.
Health Connect, “an on-device repository for user health and fitness data”, will now be a native app on the OS where it will receive automatic updates. That way, it’ll always have up-to-date security keeping your information safe “without requiring a separate download.”
Moving past the security update, Google is adding support for HDR (opens in new tab) (high-dynamic range) to Android 14, allowing the OS to take photographs sporting “vibrant colors and greater contrast”.
What’s different is the new Ultra HDR (opens in new tab) format which is said to be backward compatible with the JPEG format. This will give older phones a way to view those HDR pictures albeit more compressed, since it’ll be in a standard dynamic range. The operating system is also set to improve Camera Extensions. This performance boost will allow “apps to handle longer processing times” for certain types of images like those from low-light photography.
There’s more to the beta than this handful of features. Bug fixes (opens in new tab) are a part of the package too. One addresses stability problems that would cause the user interface to either lag or crash. You also have a fix for a biometrics bug causing “some apps to not work properly.”
A lot of the upcoming changes shown at Google I/O 2023 won’t be a part of this beta, but you can get a first-hand look on The Keyword blog (opens in new tab). Later down the line, users will be able to create their own phone wallpaper via generative AI. All you have to do is enter a prompt. And there’s Magic Compose to help you write basic texts you’re too lazy to write.
If you’re interested, you can install Android 14 Beta 2 by joining Google’s Beta Program (opens in new tab). A list of compatible devices (opens in new tab) can be found in the Android Developer Blog which consists of but is not limited to the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, and the Pixel 6a. The beta won’t be available for the recently released Pixel 7a, unfortunately. Speaking of devices, the first Android 14 beta (opens in new tab) is now available on a handful of third-party phones like the OnePlus 11 and the Nothing Phone 1 if you want to try it out there.
The third Android 14 beta is set to release in June with the official launch expected to be sometime in the late summer; most likely August.
Be sure to check out TechRadar’s coverage of Google I/O 2023. The tech giant is going all in on AI, and a lot of what was shown was admittedly pretty impressive.
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