Google’s development cycle for Android follows a pretty regular pattern these days. After two previews for developers, the company released the first of four public beta versions of Android 14 today. As with previous versions, the first beta is the first release that anyone can install over the air, as long as they have a Pixel device that supports it, going back to the Pixel 4a 5G. (but not the Pixel 4).
There is no official support for phones that aren’t made by Google yet. As always, keep in mind that these are betas for a reason and are still mostly for developers who want to test their apps with this new version and early adopters who can’t wait for the stable release.
This beta version doesn’t have a lot of new features, but there are two updates to the user interface that are worth pointing out. The first is a new back arrow, which, yes, is pretty much the most exciting thing in the history of mobile operating systems.
Google says that the gesture navigation experience now “includes a more visible back arrow while using an app to help make the back gesture easier to understand and more useful.” This arrow will match the theme of your device or wallpaper. Things that are fun.
Developers will now be able to add custom actions to the system share sheet, and the sharesheet will be smarter about how it ranks your sharing targets.
Aside from that, there isn’t much new here. Google’s new privacy settings are here, and you can set the language for each app.
At Google I/O next month, I think we’ll hear a bit more about what’s new in Android 14 and see more user-facing features. For now, it looks like this is just another evolutionary release, though.