Credit: Brian Heater / TechCrunch
Google’s Android release cadence for Android has become a familiar annual ritual. A month ago, the company launched the first developer preview of Android 14 and now, a month later, here is the second developer preview. As with the first release, this is primarily a release still aimed at developers, with the more public – and easier to install – betas scheduled for April. So far, most of the features Google has talked about have also been developer-centric, with few user-centric features being widely deployed. That also applies to this second preview, which mainly focuses on additional new security and privacy features.
Perhaps the most important new privacy feature worth mentioning here – and one that will be user-focused – is that the new Android photo picker will now ask users if they want to only give an app access to selected photos, rather than always having to allow access to every photo and video on a given device. Google encourages developers to test this new behavior with their apps to ensure they can handle this new permissions and choice flow.
Android 14 will also include a new screenshot recognition API “to prevent unnecessary access to a user’s data”.
Android 14 also adds a credential manager as a platform API – and via a Jetpack library with a Google Play Services implementation, this is supported up to Android 4.4 (that was the 2013 KitKat release). It supports passwords and passkeys. And while this was already available in the first preview, Google notes that it has now improved the user interface and made some API changes as well.
With this version, Google also introduces new optimizations for Android’s memory management system, which now kills background processes faster for apps that have gone into a cached state.
On the user-side, Google will now make it easier for users to personalize some Android settings like temperature units, first day of the week, and numbering systems in more detail. “A European living in the United States may prefer to have temperature units in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit, and that apps treat Monday as the start of the week rather than the US standard for Sunday,” Google explains, perfectly describing my personal one Preferences a European living in the United States.
As Google notes, now is the time for developers to start their compatibility testing in preparation for the release of Android 14 later this year. There are system images for Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 7, Pixel 6a, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6, Pixel 5a 5G, Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G), and of course images for the Android emulator.