A month after its initial release, Android 14 Developer Preview 2 gives us a glimpse of more future features coming to Pixel phones later this year. Here are some of the most notable new additions.
As with the first developer version of Android 14, it’s not clear how many changes Google has in store for the stable launch. We’re getting a better sense of priorities, though, as the Mountain View company adds even more refinements to Material You and the usability of the core Android system on Pixel devices. Here are some of the best new features:
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Android 14 system icon
The system icon for Android 14 is now available in several locations, including system notification popups. This is the little NASA-inspired logo you may have seen in all sorts of marketing materials. Unfortunately, it doesn’t extend to the Android easter egg at this stage – expect that in a future beta update.
There’s a lot to unpack regarding UI changes and tweaks in Android 14 Developer Preview 2. These include tuning Dynamic Color settings, system menus, and more. Here are some of the biggest things that have changed:
Navigation gestures change
If you use gestures as your preferred method of navigation, you may notice some changes right away. When using the back gesture, this is now housed in a pill-shaped container. This also ties in with your chosen Dynamic Color theme. This makes using the action on either side of your screen more obvious.
To help you manage your favorite navigation method, the “Navigation Mode” is now elevated in the Settings menu. It has been moved from the “Gestures” menu to the “System” section and can also be accessed separately from the “Display” settings menu.
The long-awaited “Predictive back animation” is another added feature and it works somewhat in Android 14 Developer Preview 2. When you activate the swipe back gesture in areas such as the Settings menu, you sometimes see the previous section. It doesn’t run flawlessly and often doesn’t work as intended, but it is available and likely to be updated as the developer looks ahead.
Google is improving the “Security & Privacy” menu introduced here with Android 13 in the latest developer preview. Drop-down menus have been replaced with dedicated pages for each section. That means when you select a section like “App Security,” you get a unique page view with a prominent image in the header to symbolize or indicate what’s on offer.
Each section on this settings page has a unique themed image. That’s not all, as the “More Security Settings” and “More Privacy Settings” sections have been merged into a unified “More Settings” pane for easier access.
Rounded UI components
Material You prefer a rounded, sparkling aesthetic and that’s also an area of focus in Android 14 Developer Preview 2. You may notice this when making selections in the Settings menu. After tapping a section, your chosen area will be highlighted, this is more rounded and resembles the pill-shaped Quick Settings tiles. It’s small, but it helps create overall interface cohesion.
In an instant, the lock screen changes
The default Pixel Launcher and lockscreen widget has gained a lot of additional functionality and features on Pixel phones, but in Android 14 Developer Preview 2, it now appears as just one line on the lock screen. The weather conditions are now consistent with the current day and date, and there is no way to restore the two-line option at this stage.
Regional preference selection
Within the Languages and inputs section, you can now make unique regional changes to settings on the device, such as temperature units, the first day of the week, and the numbers used. This matches existing language settings per app and gives you full control over your system’s localized experience.
Android 14 Developer Preview 2 includes a “Flash Notifications” feature that allows Pixel owners to emulate the long-lost notification LED in the upcoming build. Google has added the “Flash Notifications” option in the Accessibility Panel that allows you to use the camera’s LED flash to flicker when a notification is received.
You can enable “Camera Flash Notifications” or “Screen Flash Notifications” individually or simultaneously by going to Settings > Accessibility > Flash Notifications. From this new menu you can adjust and toggle the options and even get a preview of the options in action. What’s interesting is that if you get a notification and view the Quick Settings panel, the Flashlight or Flashlight switch will quickly turn on and off, according to the state of the LED.
It wouldn’t be a developer preview or beta without some media player changes. A very minor animation tweak is visible when viewing the media player on the lock screen. Today in Android 13, the player slides up and becomes visible in the Always-on display. Here in Android 14 Developer Preview 2 the media player slides down before being accessible.
When you switch or interact with the player using the available controls, you will see a wave glow animation effect. Google has also restored the glowing animation effect when playing audio, which was actually added in Android 13 QPR2 Beta 1 but has since been removed in successive betas. Both glow effects use a complementary color for the cover art of the media being played.
The changes continue with the media output switch. This area now displays all nearby or available speakers and devices with Cast; in addition, the volume control slider now has a new icon to indicate that the audio on your device is muted.
The “Background and Style” section is a hub for all the customizations available on the default Pixel Launcher. It has not received an overhaul, but there are some minor changes and new options here. Such a change is visible when setting a wallpaper.
When using this option, you can quickly enter a full-screen preview of your chosen image. If it’s from the default image repository, you’ll see the “Information” and “Set wallpaper” buttons at the top right. Tapping the “i” icon will bring up a pop-up box with the image title and some basic metadata. Saved images will simply show a title if one is available.
A brand new option you’ll see is the “Clock Settings” section. It looks like Google will let us choose a custom clock on the lock screen at some point in a future update. At this stage it doesn’t work yet, which could be due to a missing APK or that the functionality hasn’t been fleshed out yet. It will be a nice addition, though, and we wonder if the two-line clock option will also be moved from Display Settings to this area in the future.
There is also an added monochrome swatch that you can choose from as part of the “Basic Colors” section. When selected, instead of colorful Quick Settings toggles or themed menus and buttons, these simply follow the device’s theme presets on the device. In light mode you get milky white buttons and when dark mode is active these areas are grayscale. This can be a perfect option for people who don’t want complicated color combinations on their device.
March 2023 security patch
Since the upcoming Pixel Feature Drop is MIA, the Android 14 Developer Preview 2 is actually the first update for Pixel phones with the March 2023 security patch. That’s neat if you want on-device security and are willing to roll out potentially buggy software to feed.
Android 14 Developer Preview 2: What’s your favorite new feature?
As with any developer-focused software release, there are more than just superficial changes in the Android 14 Developer Preview 2. We think these are the most noticeable or obvious to people on a day-to-day basis. Of course, in the coming days and weeks, we expect to see more little things that may have slipped through the cracks.
We’ll probably dive deeper into every single thing that’s been added, including some features that take some work to get fully up and running in our full roundup coming very soon. What is your favorite new feature or features? Let us know in the comments below!
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