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12 Apr, 2023
2 min time to read

Early public adopters now have access to the first Android 14 beta build, which includes the introduction of new gesture navigation and sharing features.

Google has announced the first beta release of Android 14, the next version of the Android operating system for mobile devices. The update introduces new features and improvements across several areas of the platform, including system navigation, privacy, performance, and user customization.

One of the major changes in Android 14 is the updated gesture navigation, which now includes a more conspicuous Material You-themed back arrow. This back arrow adjusts its appearance to complement the device's wallpaper or theme and is designed to help users better understand Android 14's predictive back gesture experience. The gesture navigation feature now also previews the screen users are navigating to within applications.

Android 14 also introduces a new system share sheet that allows developers to add custom app-specific actions to the top of the share menu. This feature offers a superior experience compared to the existing Android share sheets, which sort share targets alphabetically. The new share sheet also uses more app signals to determine where the direct share targets that appear towards the top of the page should rank, although it's not entirely clear what those signals are.

Previously, app developers who wanted specific apps to appear higher within the sharing menu either had to build their own share sheets or add custom share targets. However, only two share targets could be specified to appear higher in the share list, and Google discouraged developers from utilizing this feature as it reduces the number of share targets that can be suggested by the device system. With the new system share sheet, developers can add custom app-specific actions to the top of the share menu, thereby solving this issue.

In addition to these changes, Android 14 includes several other updates, such as new graphical features like morphing effects and enhanced language settings that automatically configure applications to support language preferences on a per-app basis. Android 14 also enhances privacy by allowing apps to restrict the visibility of sensitive data to accessibility services that claim to help users with disabilities. These claims will be verified by Google Play Protect. Google suggests that these new privacy protections can be used to help prevent more vulnerable users from accidentally transferring money or checking out in a shopping app.

Google recommends that anyone wishing to jump from the Android 13 QPR beta program should do so with this first Android 14 beta release, as users may eventually be required to wipe their device's data with future build releases.