It wouldn’t be February without a peek at Google’s next mobile OS. Sure enough, the company has released the first Android 14 developer preview (DP1) to help app creators target the new platform. This time around, the initial priorities are accessibility, battery life and security. You can scale fonts to a much larger size (200 percent versus the earlier 130 percent), and smarter scaling makes text more readable. It’s easier to set preferred languages for apps, and developers can be more accommodating to people who speak gendered languages like French.
Android 14 DP1 also includes some under-the-hood improvements that can make the most of your battery and screen. There are tighter controls on alarms, foreground tasks and internal broadcasts, all of which can reduce power consumption. It should also be easier to build apps for foldable phones and tablets, so you may see software that makes better use of your hardware’s visual real estate.
And yes, Android 14 can block users from sideloading very old apps. Google will require that apps target at least Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), as some malware is written for older versions to avoid a permissions system introduced in 2015. This won’t prevent you from running apps that are already installed when you upgrade the OS, and you can use command line instructions to force installations. However, you may have to look for alternatives if there’s an ancient app you’d hate to give up.
This first preview is available through the desktop Android emulator as well as the Pixel 4a, Pixel 5 and newer Google phones. The first Android 14 beta should arrive in April, and Google expects “platform stability” (read: release candidates) in June. As always, the developer previews don’t represent the sum total of what the new platform will bring. We’d expect Google to reveal more conspicuous changes at its I/O conference in the spring.