Google releases a new version of Android each year, with great features and optimizations that eventually land on phones like the Galaxy S23 and Pixel 7. The first preview release of Android 14 has now arrived, and it has a few interesting changes.
Android updates have been on roughly the same development cycle for a few years now. There’s a few developer previews early in the year, followed by a beta that is ready for more people to try, and then the final release sometime in August-October. Google appears to be (roughly) sticking to that again this year, as the company is planning beta releases starting in April and a final release sometime after July.
The first developer previews usually don’t have any significant interface changes or wild new features — those usually show up in the first betas. In the meantime, Google is adding new APIs for app and game developers to make their software better than ever, with a focus on improving battery life. The update also allows scaling the system text to 200%, up from a maximum of 130% on Google Pixel phones, with a new non-linear font scaling curve.
Android 14 will also block installation of applications with a target SDK older than version 23. That will prevent apps from getting around the enhanced permissions model introduced on Android 6.0 in 2015, but has the side effect of preventing the installation of many old games and applications. For example, the classic Flappy Bird game targets an SDK level of 15. However, if you still have an old app installed, it won’t be removed with the update.
The Android 14 Developer Preview is available to download on the Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 7, Pixel 6a, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6, Pixel 5a 5G, Pixel 5, or Pixel 4a (5G). Google will also provide an updated image for the Android Emulator in Android Studio, as well as generic GSI images for testing on other devices. It’s only intended for use by developers right now, so it can only be installed with a manual download and flashing over a USB connection.