One month on from the first release, Android 14 Developer Preview 2 is giving us a glimpse at more future features coming to Pixel phones later this year. Here are some of the most notable new additions.
Just like the first developer build of Android 14, it’s not clear just how many alterations Google has in store for the stable launch. However, we are getting a better idea of the priorities as the Mountain View firm is adding yet more refinements to Material You and the usability of the core Android system on Pixel devices. Here are some of the best new functions:
Table of contents
- Android 14 system icon
- UI refinements
- Flash notifications
- Media player animation and UI improvements
- New options in ‘Wallpaper & style’
- March 2023 security patch
- Android 14 Developer Preview 2: What is your favorite new feature?
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Android 14 system icon
The system icon for Android 14 is now available in various locations including system notification pop-ups. This is the little NASA-inspired logo that you may have seen bandied around and visible in all kinds of marketing material. Sadly, 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 with regard to UI changes and tweaks in Android 14 Developer Preview 2. These include tuning to Dynamic Color settings, system menus, and more. Here are some of the biggest things that have changed:
Navigation gesture changes
If you use gestures as your preferred navigation method, you might notice some changes right away. When using the back gesture, this is now housed within a pill-shaped container. What’s more, this adheres to the Dynamic Color theme that you have chosen. Because of this, using the action is more obvious on either side of your screen.
To help you manage your preferred navigation method, the “Navigation mode” is now elevated within the Settings menu. It has moved out of the “Gestures” menu into the “System” section as well as being accessible separately from the “Display” settings menu too.
The long-awaited “Predictive back animation” is another added feature and it is somewhat working in Android 14 Developer Preview 2. When activating the back swipe gesture in areas such as the Settings menu, you’ll sometimes see the previous section. It doesn’t work flawlessly and often doesn’t work as intended but it is available and likely to be updated as the developer previews progress.
Security & privacy menu images
Google is improving the “Security & privacy” menu that was introduced with Android 13 here in the latest developer preview. Dropdown menus have been replaced with dedicated pages for each section. That means when selecting a section such as “App security” you’ll get a unique page view with a prominent header image to symbolise or indicate what is being offered.
Every section within 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 favors a rounded, bubbly aesthetic and that is also an area of focus in Android 14 Developer Preview 2. You might notice this when making selections in the Settings menu. After tapping a section your chosen area will be highlighted, this is more rounded and akin to the pill-shaped Quick Settings tiles. It’s minor but it helps create overall interface cohesion.
At a Glance lock screen changes
The default Pixel Launcher and lockscreen widget has gained lots of extra functionality and features on Pixel phones but in Android 14 Developer Preview 2 it now appears as just one line on the lock screen. Weather conditions are now in-line with the current day and date with no way to restore the two-line option at this stage.
Regional preference selection
Within the Languages & input section you’re now able to make unique regional changes to on-device settings like Temperature units, the first day of the week, and the numbers used. This stacks with the existing per-app language settings and gives you full control over your system’s localized experience.
Android 14 Developer Preview 2 includes a “Flash notifications” function that will let Pixel owners emulate the long-lost notification LED in the upcoming build. Google has added the “Flash notifications” option within the Accessibility panel which lets you utilize the camera LED flash to flicker when a notification is received.
You can enable “Camera flash notifications” or “Screen flash notifications” independently or simultaneously by heading to Settings > Accessibility > Flash notifications. From this new menu, you can tweak 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 are viewing the Quick Settings panel, the flashlight or torch toggle will quickly toggle on and off, following the LED’s status.
Media player animation and UI improvements
It wouldn’t be a developer preview or beta without some media player changes. A very minor animation tweak is visible when viewing the lockscreen media player. Today, in Android 13, the player will slide up and expand into view into the Always-on display. Here in Android 14 Developer Preview 2, the Media player will slide down before being accessible.
When you toggle or interact with the player using the available controls you’ll see a wave glow animation effect. Google has also restored the glowing animation effect when audio is playing, which was actually added in Android 13 QPR2 Beta 1 but has since been removed in successive betas. Both glow effects will use a complementary color to the album art of the media being played.
The changes continue with the media output switcher. This area will now show any nearby or available speakers and Cast-enabled devices; what’s more, the volume control slider now has a new icon to indicate that audio is muted on your device.
New options in ‘Wallpaper & style’
The “Wallpaper & style” section is a hub for all of the customization available on the default Pixel Launcher. It hasn’t received an overhaul but there are some minor changes and new options here. One such change is visible when setting a wallpaper.
When using this option you can quickly enter a fullscreen preview of your chosen image. If it is from the default image repository then you’ll spot upper-right “Information” and “Set wallpaper” buttons. Tapping the “i” icon will pull up a pop-up panel with the image title and some basic metadata. Saved images will simply show a title if that is available.
A brand new option you’ll spot is the “Clock settings” section. It appears that Google will let us pick a custom clock on the lockscreen at some point in a future update. At this stage it doesn’t work, which could be due to a missing APK or that the functionality has not yet been fleshed out. It’ll be a nice addition though, and we wonder if the two-line clock option will be moved from Display settings to this area in future too.
There is also an added monochrome swatch that you can choose as part of the “Basic colors” section. When selected, rather than seeing colorful Quick Settings toggles, or themed menus and buttons, these will simply follow on-device system theming presets. In light mode, you’ll get milky white buttons and when dark mode is active these areas will be grayscale. This might be a perfect option for people that don’t want complex color combinations on their device.
March 2023 security patch
Because the upcoming Pixel Feature Drop is M.I.A, the Android 14 Developer Preview 2 is actually the first update for Pixel phones to feature the March 2023 security patch. That’s neat if you want on-device security and are willing to run potentially buggy software.
Android 14 Developer Preview 2: What is your favorite new feature?
As with every developer-focused software release, there are more than just surface-level changes in the Android 14 Developer Preview 2. We think these are the most notable or obvious to people day-to-day. Naturally, we expect to see more little things that might have slipped through the cracks over the coming days and weeks.
We’ll likely have a deeper dive into every single thing that has been added, including some features that require a little work to get fully operational in our full overview coming very soon. What is your favorite new feature or features? Let us know down in the comments section below!
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