9to5Google Weekender: Android 14 starts to take shape, and this week’s top stories

9to5Google Weekender: Android 14 starts to take shape, and this week’s top stories

android 14

Ahead of its final release later this year, Google has just launched the first beta version of Android 14, giving us the best look yet at what the platform’s next big upgrade will be bringing to the table.

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Android 14 takes shape

As has become tradition for Android, Google launched the first developer preview of Android 14 back in February, and now we’ve got the first beta version. The first beta gives us a better idea of what Google has in store and also marks the first point where non-developers can easily get in on the action.

What’s new in Android 14 Beta 1? Mostly, we’re looking at a lot of tweaks and improvements rather than any big overhauls. There’s a new option to force a transparent navigation bar systemwide, as well as a new permission that allows users to block apps from sending full-screen notifications. There are also tweaks to the share sheet and the wide availability of a revamped back gesture.

Really, “tweaks and improvements” is the story throughout Android 14 from everything we’ve seen thus far. In the developer previews, Google added features such as the ability to use the camera flash for incoming notifications, adding more themes and options to Material You, adjusting the media player, preparing better support for physical keyboards and trackpads, and even allowing Dual-SIM users to have the phone automatically pick the best SIM for mobile data.

None of the additions we’ve seen so far are remotely groundbreaking, but they set the stage for an update that could bring overdue additions and fixes. Could there be more hiding below the surface? Sure! Google I/O is coming up quick, and it’s entirely possible that event could reveal more about what Android 14 will really deliver. But, for now, it’s looking like a minor but more polished update.

This week’s top stories

Android 13 is growing quickly

Google’s release of new Android versions has, for years now, been criticized for how long it can take certain brands to get their updates out. It wasn’t all that long ago that a flagship phone could take the better part of a year just to get a new version. But things have turned around, and now new Android versions are distributed relatively quickly, at least by comparison. As we reported first this week, Android 13 now makes up over 12% of active Android smartphones and tablets – that’s more than doubled since January.

April 2023

Google TV adds free channels with a new device incoming

This week in Google TV, there were two major developments. Firstly, Google is adding built-in free channels for Google TV devices in the US. There are around 80 free channels built into the experience itself, with over 800 in total when pulling in channels from Pluto, Philo, Plex, and more.

Alongside that, a new Google TV device popped up. Walmart’s Onn brand returns with a $20 4K Google TV dongle that appears to be releasing imminently. It’s already listed on Walmart’s website, and we spotted it on store shelves too.

‘Call Screen’ on Pixel is going to get even better

As a part of a podcast, Google confirmed that the Pixel’s Call Screen feature is going to be updated in the not-too-distant future. The team apparently wants Call Screen to “solve bigger and more important problems” with the help of AI.

More top stories

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