Does anyone care about Android 14?
This yr’s launch of the world’s hottest working system appears like one of many smallest ever, bringing only a handful of latest options. Even through the Android portion of Google’s large I/O keynote, Google spent most of its time exhibiting off a brand new generative AI function that creates wallpapers for you, as if there aren’t sufficient wallpapers on the earth.
Final yr’s Android 13 launch felt small, however that was as a result of it was the second main Android OS launch that yr. Android 12L—the massive pill and foldable launch—got here out earlier. What’s Android 14’s excuse? We’re not likely positive. We nonetheless have a number of issues to go over, although, like new lock display screen customizations, genuinely thrilling modifications to the best way the again button works, and a pile of under-the-hood modifications.
The brand new emblem
First up is a brand new emblem! Android’s final large rebranding occurred with Android 10, and only a few years later, it is time for a brand new coat of paint. The wordmark is now capitalized, and the little Android “bugdroid” mascot, often a disembodied head subsequent to the Android wordmark, is getting its physique again. The bugdroid is now totally rendered in 3D, and consistent with Google’s Materials Design tips, it is available in quite a lot of colours and kinds. When you ask me, bugdroid in 3D appears a bit pudgy.
Within the movies on Google’s redesign weblog publish, a “Google Android” emblem occupies the display screen for a superb period of time. I’ve by no means seen these two manufacturers collectively as a single wordmark, and widespread utilization of it might actually be a change. Some individuals confuse the Android model with the “Android Open Supply Mission” and assume it is some sort of free-to-use emblem, however Android is a trademark of Google, and you may’t use it except you license the Google Play apps. So “Google Android” is completely applicable.
I’ve by no means truly seen the Android emblem anyplace on the earth outdoors of tech information, so I am unsure who that is for. Even in the event you get a Pixel telephone, you will not see the Android emblem on the field or within the software program. The one spot to catch it in the true world is in a tiny “powered by Android” message on the hardly ever seen telephone boot display screen. It is like a branding system solely for Google weblog posts and commerce reveals.
The (considerably) customizable lock display screen
iOS 16’s headline function was its new lock display screen widgets, and it appears Android needs in on the motion, too. Android initially had lock display screen widgets again in 2012 with Android 4.2, however they have been eliminated only a few years later in model 5.0. Lock display screen widgets are nonetheless not again in Android 14, however as a result of Google tries to maintain tempo with iOS, widgets are in all probability a lock to seem in Android 15 or 16.
What we’ve got in Android 14’s lock display screen is a selectable clock model and two shortcuts you possibly can decide from. You may long-press on the lock display screen, and a “customise” button will pop up, letting you decide from seven completely different clock kinds. You may select the clock’s coloration, and a coloration slider helps you to alter issues additional. “Distinction” is not the appropriate phrase for the slider, however the left facet is a calmly tinted almost-black, the appropriate facet is a calmly tinted almost-white, and a full, wealthy coloration is within the center someplace. There’s additionally a “measurement” setting for the clock, which determines if it kicks into full-screen mode when you don’t have any notifications or simply stays small on a regular basis.
You may assign features to 2 left and proper shortcuts, however the choices are unusually restricted. You may assign a button to the digicam, a do-not-disturb toggle, the flashlight, the Google Residence app, Mute, the QR code scanner, the video digicam, or Google Pockets. That is it—a bizarre seize bag of some fast settings toggles and one or two Google apps.
Nonetheless, it is nice to get an precise settings UI for the lock display screen shortcuts. Beforehand, controlling these shortcuts meant ticking one or two on/off switches within the show settings, which isn’t nice for one thing that would have a number of choices. It ought to simply be all of your apps and fast settings buttons—because of themed icons, there needs to be applicable one-color choices for all of those now. Between this shortcut setting, the fast settings “edit” UI, and the app drawer/house display screen, that is three “shortcut” UIs the place you decide a number of gadgets from an enormous bucket of icons. Google ought to simply decide one UI and roll with it in all places.
Typically, although, the lock display screen choices really feel like a precursor to one thing extra sturdy, with app-supplied widgets.