Android 14: The features you need to know about
The latest release of the Android mobile operating system brings new features to your Android smartphone, including AI-generated wallpapers.
Android 14 has been launched by Google as its newest operating system. Photo: Google
Google has launched Android 14 as its newest operating system for your smartphone.
The latest major release of the Android mobile operating system, a significant upgrade from Android 13, brings new features to your Android smartphone, including AI-generated wallpapers, passkeys for third-party apps, monthly reminders for data-sharing, and camera flash notifications.
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said Android 14 is designed to improve your productivity as developers while enhancing performance, privacy, security, and customisation for users.
“Android 14 is rolling out to select Pixel devices starting today, and will be available later this year on some of your favourite devices from Samsung Galaxy, iQOO, Nothing, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, Vivo and Xiaomi.”
While Android 14 doesn’t revolutionise the Android experience, it now offers AI-generated wallpapers, passkeys for third-party apps, dynamic monochromatic themes, and more.
Enhancements include a camera, accessibility, home screen, lock screen, privacy and security, and battery optimisation, all of which are improved with Android 14.
New media capabilities
The camera gets several improvements, including support for high-quality Ultra HDR images, better low-light photography on compatible phones and in-sensor zooming that allows you to zoom in and out without losing image quality in some third-party apps.
Ultra HDR for images – Android 14 supports 10-bit high dynamic range (HDR) images and supports the Ultra HDR image format. The format is fully backwards-compatible with JPEG, allowing apps to interoperate with HDR images seamlessly.
Zoom, Focus, Postview, and more in Camera Extensions – Android 14 upgrades and improves Camera Extensions, allowing apps to handle longer processing times enabling enhanced images using compute-intensive algorithms like low-light photography on supported devices.
A new document scanner service will allow apps to digitise physical documents, like receipts, with your camera on your mobile phone.
On Android 13 and earlier, if an app asks for permission to access your photos and videos, you could either say “yes” or “no.” With Android 14, users have a bit more control and can allow apps to access some photos and videos using the permission notification.
If you are hard of hearing, Android 14 will allow you to see notifications by using the camera flash and display to light up. Users can toggle these settings in the Accessibility section, allowing them to choose the flash colour. However, you can’t alter the way the flashes occur (pulse, flash, wave, etc.) and can’t create per-app customisations. The feature is either “on” or “off.”
Whether you prefer the temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit, Monday or Sunday as the start of your week, or specific calendars or numerals, you can set these systemwide in Android 14, and they will persist through backup and restore.
Performance and efficiency
A big focus of Android 14 was also on improving the performance and efficiency of the platform. Before Android 14, cached applications were allowed to run somewhat unconstrained.
In Android 14, users can scale up their font to 200%. Previously, the maximum font size scale on Pixel devices was 130%.
A non-linear font scaling curve is automatically applied to ensure that text that is already large enough doesn’t increase at the same rate as smaller text.
Faster app launches
With cached app and broadcast optimizations In Android 14, Google said it was able to increase long-standing limits on the maximum number of cached applications in the platform, leading to a reduction in cold app starts.
On 8GB devices, the beta group saw 20% fewer cold app starts; on 12GB devices, it was over 30% fewer. Cold startups are slow compared to warm startups and expensive in terms of power. This work effectively improves both power usage and overall app startup times.
Android 14 also brings tweaks related to language, starting with better support for gendered languages (e.g., French and German) via the Grammatical Inflection API.
Among the many new features in Android 14 is the ability to turn off animations when you enter your PIN, which will make it difficult for people to get your PIN if they are peering over your shoulder.
Android 14 removes the need to hit an “OK” button after entering your PIN. Instead, you can just enter the number, and your phone will unlock. But, this will only work if your PIN is six digits or more.
If your PIN is six digits or more, it will automatically turn the feature on. If you want the “OK” button back, you can manually institute it.
Health Connect is a user-controlled on-device repository for user health and fitness data. Supporting an integrated health and fitness experience across apps and connected devices is easier than ever.
Health Connect is part of the Android platform and receives updates via Google Play system updates without requiring a separate download; and is available to older devices as an app on the Google Play store.
New permission for alarms
Google also implemented a “schedule exact alarm” permission, requiring all newly installed apps that aren’t clocks or calendars to request this permission from users. The company explained this addition by saying that precise alarm functionality can affect battery life and other resources.
New battery information
Battery life is critical to any smartphone, and now Android 14 allows you to see new battery information, such as its manufacturing date and cycle count. The info can be found in Settings > About Phone > Battery Information. However, it might not be displayed on all phones.
Privacy and security
Data sharing updates – Users will see a new section in the location runtime permission dialogue highlighting when an app shares location data with third parties, where they can get more information and control the app’s data access.
Google said Android 14 builds on the work done in Android 12L and 13 to support tablets and foldable form factors, including a taskbar supporting enhanced multitasking, large-screen optimised system apps and notification UI, activity embedding, enhanced letterboxing, improved media projection, and more.