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Android 14 Beta 2 arrives for Pixel phones, here's what's new
- Android 14 Beta 2 has arrived for Google Pixel phones.
- This new update brings support for 10-bit HDR, lossless USB audio, and more.
- Health Connect also becomes part of the out-of-the-box experience on the upcoming Android 14 release.
Google I/O season is upon us, and the company has pushed out the Android 14 beta 2 for Pixel phones ahead of the Android 14 stable release later this year. The company is also bringing the Android 14 beta program to partner OEMs, but here’s what’s new with the Android 14 beta 2 for Pixel phones.
Android 14 Beta 2: The announced changes
Support for 10-bit HDR
Android 14 is adding support for 10-bit HDR (aka Ultra HDR), allowing it to retain more information from the sensor when taking photos and opening the door for more vibrant colors and greater contrast. This Ultra HDR format is fully backwards compatible with JPEG, allowing apps to seamlessly interoperate with HDR images and display them in standard dynamic range as needed.
One of the bigger user-facing changes in Android 14 is the addition of Health Connect as part of the out-of-the-box experience. Google describes it as an on-device repository for health and fitness data. It opens up data sharing between health apps and integrates privacy controls into system settings.
With Android 14, users no longer have to install Health Connect separately. This massively improves the reach of the app, as few users know that such an app exists in the first place and would be worth using. An increase in users reached will also make the platform more enticing for other app and service developers to come on board, benefitting the ecosystem.
Health Connect will also remain automatically updated through Google Play System Updates and will therefore not require a separate download or update from the user.
Health Connect is also gaining support for exercise routes, allowing users to share a route of their workout on a map. Users will also be able to log their menstrual cycles in an easier manner.
Data sharing updates
Android 14 is changing the way data-sharing updates are highlighted and presented to users. If an app changes its data-sharing practices after a user has installed the app and given it permission, there will be a new dialog box that prompts users about this change. Users can also access the new location data-sharing updates page from within the device settings.
Improved Camera extensions and support for in-sensor zoom
Android 14 is upgrading and improving the Camera2 and CameraX extensions, allowing apps that use them to handle longer processing times. This will help improve use cases like low-light photography that rely on compute-intensive algorithms.
There is also now support for in-sensor zoom, allowing for zoom control even before other camera controls are ready.
Lossless USB audio
Android 14 now gains support for lossless audio formats over USB-wired headsets, enabling audiophile-level experiences over the wire.
There are some more changes, such as improvements to the Predictive Back gesture (this remains gated behind a developer toggle for now), improved graphics through custom meshes, and more.
Unannounced changes in Android 14 Beta 2
Apart from the stuff that Google discloses, users trying out the new beta also uncovered some unannounced changes. Some of them are highlighted below, courtesy of journalist Mishaal Rahman:
- Ringtone and notification volume sliders are now separated.
- There’s a new PIN unlock animation as well as support for auto-confirmation of PIN.
- You can now see a minimized clipboard overlay when you copy something while the keyboard is visible.
- Android 14 is adding support for setting a different live wallpaper on the lock screen and the home screen.
- Android 14 is building up support for a partial screen-sharing feature which lets you record a single app without recording notifications and your status bar.
- Android 14 Beta 2 brings in new gestures for built-in external trackpads on physical keyboards.
Download Android 14 Beta 2 for Pixel devices
Looking to try the latest beta? Check out our guide on how to install Android 14 on your Pixel devices.
If your Pixel devices are already enrolled in the Android 14 beta program, they will automatically receive an OTA update to Beta 2.