The first developer build of Android 14 has arrived, and while it'll be some time until we normal Android users get to try it out, we can already start looking forward to the new features that are being added.
Thanks to deep dives from experts like Mishaal Rahman (opens in new tab), the new Android 14 features, including those not formally announced by Google, are put on display early. After the relatively quiet release of Android 13 last year, it's great to see so many interesting updates already in the works for this year's Android version.
Read our full Android 14 guide for all the changes Google will be introducing in the new OS version, but here we're going to keep our focus in this article on the big upgrades that'll have an impact on your daily phone usage.
Android 14 features: The new ones so far
Predictive Back gesture
Swiping to go back on Android 14 still works as normal, but if you swipe and pause, you can see the page you're returning to pop up to the side, in case you forgot where you'll end up.
It's similar to how you can see all your active apps by swiping upward and pausing, or tapping the three lines button.
Here's a first look at the enhanced predictive back gesture in Android 14: https://t.co/Ce6aRLZ5d2February 8, 2023
App cloning is something you may already be able to do on your Android phone, but Android 14 adds native support for it within the Settings menu (via XDA Developers (opens in new tab)). This will allow any Android user to use one app with two different log-in credentials, handy if you want to rapidly swap between accounts.
Currently, the feature's not available in the Developer Preview without enabling a specific developer flag. Cloning seems to be limited to only a few select apps, and there's also no way to tell the difference between an original app and a cloned one when both icons are on screen. Hopefully, Google's able to fix this in future versions of Android 14, and have it working properly by the time the public release arrives.
Allow guest to use Phone app
If you've got a guest profile set up on your phone to allow someone else to use your Android device without full access, you can now specify if that guest can make calls. Your own call history will be visible to the guest, but it'll mean you can hand your phone off to someone in an emergency to contact someone without exposing all the rest of your data.
Under Settings > System > Multiple users, there’s now an “allow guest to use phone” toggle that lets you control whether the guest profile can make phone calls/send text messages. If you enable it, your call history is shared with the guest user. pic.twitter.com/Ci1OftAK1ZFebruary 8, 2023
Make secondary users admins
On a similar note, you can now extend full admin-level access to your phone to secondary users. This could be another person you share your device with (such as a family tablet), or a secondary profile for yourself, who can now make changes to the phone whenever they need, rather than having to swap profiles just to toggle a single setting.
Support for new game controllers
Android 14 has added input mapping for the PlayStation DualSense Edge Controller and the SteelSeries Stratus Plus. If you like to game on mobile using one of a full-fat console-style gamepads, then it's excellent news that you'll be able to use these recently launched controllers easily with the next update.
More powerful Photo Picker
Android 13 introduced new granularity to the Photos permission for apps, letting you select if an app could access all your images, or just ones that you specified. This wasn't enforced within Android though, meaning apps could still demand to access all your images or not work. But it now appears, in a win for your privacy (via XDA Developers (opens in new tab)), that you'll still be able to pick which photos an app can use, even if it demands the keys to your entire collection of photos.
Hearing devices page
Users with hearing aids should find they're much easier to set up in Android 14. There's now a dedicated Settings page for hearing devices under the Accessibility options, but you can also set up a shortcut directly to the Hearing devices page to easily adjust your settings later. There's a togglable compatibility setting you can enable in case your device isn't behaving with the new Android version too.
Apps installed in the background page
Nobody likes it when your phone's manufacturer or your mobile carrier downloads things onto your phone without you wanting them, or even knowing they're there. But now with this new page, you'll be able to see precisely what's been added to your Android surreptitiously, and delete them easily if you don't want them. Sounds ideal for quickly removing all the bloatware that some phone makers and carriers are quite insistent you have on your phone.
Google announced last year that it had collaborated with Samsung to make the Health Connect app, a hub that'll let users keep their health data in one place to then sync up with other apps. Right now it's a beta app that you need to download separately, but Android 14 could add this as a built-in part of the OS (via XDA Developers (opens in new tab)). Could this mean Android finally has a viable alternative to Apple Health?