Android 14’s first beta includes a back arrow to match your wallpaper
THE first beta version of Google’s Android 14 operating system is available for download today, introducing new features focused on system navigation, privacy, performance, and user customization. We already had a good idea of what awaited us thanks to the First of all two previews reserved for developers, but the beta version is the first opportunity for the general public to test the changes.
Gesture navigation has been updated to include a more prominent Material You themed back arrow that adjusts to complement the device theme or wallpaper. Along with arguably better aesthetics, the updated back arrow is designed to help users better understand Android 14. predictive experience of back gestureswhich now previews the screen users navigate to in apps.
Android 14 also introduces a new system share sheet – the page that opens when you tap to share content. This allows developers to add app-specific custom actions to the top of the share menu. Google describes this as a “superior” experience over existing Android share sheets where share targets (the app you’re sharing content with) are always sorted alphabetically. The new share sheet also uses more application signals to determine where direct share targets that appear near the top of the page should rank (although the exact nature of these signals is unclear).
This fixes a few issues. Previously, app developers who wanted specific apps to appear higher in the share menu had to either create their own share sheets – which lack visual consistency and prevent users from building muscle memory between apps – or add custom share targets. Only two share targets can be specified to appear higher in the share list, and Esper.io Remarks that even Google discourages developers from using functionality, as it reduces the number of share targets that can be suggested by the device system.
Additional updates to the first beta of Android 14 include new graphical features such as morphing effects and improved language settings that automatically configure apps to support language preferences for each app. Privacy is also enhanced 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 the new privacy protections can be used to help prevent more vulnerable users from actions such as accidentally transferring money or paying in an in-app purchase.
If you want to give Android 14 a whirl before its full release, you can find more information and instructions on how to download the beta at Android 14 development site. If you’re already in the Android QPR beta program, you don’t need to do anything; the first Android 14 beta will automatically come your way.
Correction 4:16 p.m. ET: Google initially provided information recommending that participants update to the Android 13 QPR beta now. However, the final blog post simply says that these devices will automatically update to the Android 14 beta without users needing to do anything special.