If you’re an Android user getting jealous about all the upgrades and refinements iPhone owners will get as part of iOS 17, you’re in luck. Not only is Android set to receive a bunch of cool new features as part of Android 14, which is available in beta form right now, Google’s also rolling out two significant quality of life upgrades to its platform.
Google Play’s getting the big screen treatment
The first of those changes is a redesign of the Google Play Store, designed specifically for larger screen devices. Which makes a lot of sense given the recent launch of both the Pixel Fold and the Pixel Tablet. This was first previewed at Google I/O 2022, and has now been officially announced on the Android Developer’s Blog.
The redesign consists of four major updates. The first is that app store pages are getting a refresh, putting the content of the software at the forefront of the experience. For games that also means including a high-quality video banner showing off the actual gameplay. Details of apps and games are also being reorganized into a dual-column layout so there’s less scrolling around to see what’s happening.
Play Store navigation will also be going through some streamlining on larger screens, with the navigation rail moving into a position more inline with users’ thumbs. That makes the storefront more accessible, particularly in landscape mode. Google also made it easier to find useful and popular apps, moving the Top Charts and Categories sections to the Apps and Games home screen.
If that wasn’t enough, ranking changes mean more high quality apps that have been optimized for larger screens will find themselves at the top of search results. Similarly apps that are not optimized, or do not meet Google Play’s requirements for the device you’re using, will have their results downgraded and a warning added to the app page.
Finally we have a new split-screen mode, which is designed to make it easier to find and compare apps without bouncing around the Play Store all the time. This new mode lets you open search results and app pages side-by-side, letting you see multiple things on screen at the same time.
According to Google the redesign will be rolling out to Google Play “over the coming weeks”.
Redesigns for Nearby Share
Android’s Nearby Share has been around for a few years now, and recently gained the ability to share files to Windows PCs, but the work doesn’t appear to be done just yet. Google appears to be working on some changes for how Nearby Share works within the Google Files app.
Most Android phones have Google FIles, with its dedicated Nearby Share tab on the bottom menu. Nail Sadykov, from Telegram’s Google News channel, has uncovered evidence that this tab could be getting a major redesign in the near future. One that should make it easier to share and receive files from within the Files app.
Google Files is preparing another redesign of the 'Nearby Share' tab.The page is now divided into 3 sections: 'Receive Files', 'Share to nearby devices' and 'Sharing suggestions'More here: https://t.co/jw6Y1JCJNx pic.twitter.com/bKQYCc3aP3July 26, 2023
Rather than just having Send and Receive buttons, as is the case now, Google is splitting the Nearby Share page into three distinct sections. The first is a card solely dedicated to receiving files, complete with a button to turn Nearby Share on. The second is a list of nearby devices that you’re able to send files to — be they Android or PC.
Finally is a Sharing Suggestions section, where Google will decide and display whichever files it thinks you want to share. Which seems a little bit pointless to me, but it all depends on how good Google is at figuring out what you want to send.
There are aspects of this redesign still in development that don’t work yet, however the detail in the image above seems to indicate things are reasonably far along. Presumably this will be arriving in a future Google Files update, though it’s unclear when that might be.
If you’re looking for more Android upgrades that are on your way, check out our rundown of everything new that’s come to Android 14 beta, as well as a guide on how to install the Android 14 beta on your own devices. We also have guides on how to use Nearby Share, and how to use Nearby Share to send files from Android to PC.