Forward-looking: Android 13 has only been on the market for just under half a year and Android 12’s market share has not yet leveled off, but Google is already laying the foundation for Android 14. Google’s announcement of the first preview of its next mobile operating system indicates an increased Focus on multiple form factors and notable changes related to legacy software.
Android developers can start testing Android 14 now, as Google released its first preview this week. Phone testers can start by flashing a system image to a Google Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 7, Pixel 6a, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6, Pixel 5a 5G, Pixel 5, or Pixel 4a (5G). For testing other devices such as tablets and foldable devices, the company proposes the Android emulator.
Google is making a major effort to improve support for tablets and foldable devices running Android 14. The company has published several guides to help developers optimize their apps for different screen sizes, including larger screens and displays that change orientation.
Part of that effort involves multitasking. Google advises developers to resize their app windows and support features like split-screen and multi-window. Google has been improving the way its in-house apps work on larger screens since at least the last year.
One important change that users and developers should be aware of is that Android 14 will not install apps that don’t support at least Android 6.0. Apps that haven’t been updated since the launch of this operating system in 2015 won’t install at all.
The measure is unlikely to affect most casual users, as Google has already made older apps less visible. As of last year, new Android users are unable to discover and download apps from the Google Play Store that have not received patches for two years. Support for relatively old software is probably only of concern to those who sideload apps.
According to Google, the new restriction should stop malware, which often targets older SDK versions in order to bypass the company’s latest security protocols. Google picked Android 6.0 for the cutoff because that’s when the operating system introduced runtime permissions.
Interestingly, XDA developers discovered a hidden feature that could help users uninstall carrier-mandated bloatware from Android 14 phones. Flipping two developer flags – one hidden – reveals a special version of the settings menu that includes a section called “Apps Installed in the Background”. ” There users can view and uninstall the software from their device manufacturer.
Phone carriers and other providers often force apps on buyers’ devices that they don’t need and usually can’t delete, wasting storage space. Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series phones are known to come with 60GB of operating systems – the size of three new Windows 11 installs or four standard Android 13s. Hopefully, Android 14 will allow users to reclaim some space, especially those choosing cheaper, lower-capacity models.