7 Android 14 Features I’m Excited About

Android 14 logo on a Pixel 7
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Android 14 is slated for release in Fall 2023, but we’ve already reached “Platform Stability” with Beta 3. While we don’t know all of the features that will be in the final version, there’s already some exciting stuff to look forward to.

Emoji Wallpaper

Android 14 emoji wallpaper

This might seem like a small thing to get excited about, but I’ve been jealous of the iPhone’s custom emoji wallpapers that were introduced in iOS 16. Android 14 is bringing a similar feature, and I’m excited to try it out.

Google’s implementation looks even better than Apple’s. Simply enter a few emojis, choose a pattern, and then you can apply a color palette over the top. And if that isn’t cool enough, you can also make it a live wallpaper with animated effects when you touch the screen.

RELATED: How to Make Custom iPhone Wallpapers (No App Required)

Customizable Lock Screen Shortcuts

Android 14 lock screen shortcuts

Customizable lock screen shortcuts are not a new feature to Android, but it has pretty much been limited to Samsung Galaxy devices. Now, it will be a baked-in feature of Android as a whole, and it’s a nice thing to have.

Previously, Google decided which shortcuts were available on the lock screen, and they may not be things you actually use. Android 14 gives you a right and left slot to be used for the flashlight, Do Not Disturb, camera, Google Wallet, mute, Google Home, QR code scanner, or video camera.

RELATED: How to Customize the Samsung Galaxy Lock Screen Shortcuts

A Better Back Gesture

Android’s swipe-based navigation gestures have evolved a lot since they were first introduced with Android 9 Pie. Not everyone is a fan of gestures, but Android 14 looks to win more people over with a nifty “predictive” back gesture.

As you swipe from the left or right side to go to the previous screen, you start to see a faded preview of where you’re going. The back gesture can sometimes be unpredictable with certain apps, so this should make things clearer. The video above shows the feature being used slowly for emphasis.

RELATED: How to Change the Navigation Buttons or Gestures on Android

Better Support For Keyboards and Trackpads

While I was reviewing the OnePlus Pad, I went to a coffee shop to do some writing. One of my complaints about the keyboard cover was the lackluster trackpad gestures and key layout. I know Android isn’t a desktop OS, but you expect things to work a certain way when you have a full-size keyboard and trackpad.

A bunch of new keyboard and trackpad enhancements were discovered in early Android 14 builds. It may include the ability to customize the Caps Lock, Ctrl, Alt, and Meta keys. Some of the keycodes were also changed to work better with Android’s navigation, and there looks to be support for media control and adjusting keyboard backlighting.

On the trackpad side of things, it appears there will be new settings for the direction of scrolling, tap-to-click behavior, pointer speed, and gestures. Some of this is stuff that manufacturers have worked out themselves, but it will be nice to have it baked in to Android.

Easily Use Your Phone as a Webcam

Android phone as webcam
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Hot on the trails of Apple making it possible to use iPhones as webcams in 2022, Android 14 may be doing the same thing. There’s currently a project in progress that would allow you to plug and play an Android device as a “USB Video Class” (UVC) webcam. That would be pretty cool.

I occasionally use my laptop with a larger monitor, and the webcam situation is the one thing that’s annoying about the setup. If I need to use the webcam, my laptop is off to the side, which is an awkward angle. I’d love to be able to simply plug in my phone and use it as a webcam without any extra software.

RELATED: Why You Should Buy a Laptop Instead of a Mini PC

Easier Updating for the Share Menu

Android 14 share menu

If there’s one thing that almost all Android users hate, it’s the terribly inconsistent share menu. Every manufacturer has their own style, and some apps use their own menu over the system share menu. I’ve always found this menu to be really annoying to use, but it’s something I use a lot.

Android 14 has a redesigned share menu with a dedicated row for the apps to customize. Hopefully, this means more apps will use the system share menu. Also, the share menu is part of the Android OS, which means Google can only tweak it with full system updates. Android 14 may see the share menu get split out for much easier updates. That would be nice.

Making it Easier to Find Bloatware

Many Android devices come with an excessive amount of pre-installed bloatware, ranging from carrier apps to sponsored games. There are rumors that Android 14 may introduce a feature called “Apps Installed in the Background” in the Developer Options menu, which would point out the pre-installed apps.

This would be a super helpful feature. Sadly, one of the first things I do when I get a new Android device is scroll through the app list and uninstall bloatware. Depending on the device, it can be up to 10-20 apps. I’d love to see a centralized location to find them all.

RELATED: How to Get Rid of Bloatware on Your Android Phone

At the time of writing in June 2023, we have one more beta release scheduled for July. After that, we’ll be waiting for the final release sometime in the Fall, likely alongside the Pixel 8 and maybe a new Pixel Watch. Android updates may not be as exciting as they used to be, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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