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The Android 14 beta is the buggiest beta I've ever installed on my Pixels
Ever since I flashed Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on my HTC Desire Z, I’ve been curious about trying the latest and — supposedly — greatest version of Android as soon as possible. When Google started publicly testing official Android developer previews and betas, I quickly signed up and it’s become a yearly tradition for me. New developer preview? On my secondary phone! Out of developer preview and into beta? On my main phone! That’s how I ended up with the Android 14 beta on my Pixel 7 Pro and all the bugs made me regret it ever since.
How has your Android 14 beta experience been?
Before I carry on, I know we’re talking about a beta and beta software is bug-ridden by definition — testing is crucial to get to the stable release. I also know that bugs are hit-and-miss. I don’t recall seeing any notable issue with any previous beta I’ve flashed on my Pixel phones in the last five years at least. That’s extremely lucky, but betas are supposed to be significantly more stable than early developer previews. I guess all of my karma ran out, though, and I got saddled with a multitude of annoyances and bugs from day one with the Android 14 beta.
Betas are supposed to be buggy, but if any of these issues are dealbreakers, you should stay away.
So consider this a public service announcement, in case you’re thinking of joining the beta. If any of the issues below are dealbreakers for you, you might want to stay away.
My biggest issue with the Android 14 beta is the cutting audio playback bug. It’s so frequent that I can’t listen to music or podcasts anymore because the entire experience is beyond frustrating. When the display is off, audio may continue playing for a few minutes normally then it starts getting choppy every second or couple of seconds, at a random rhythm. Even if I could get used to it, the unpredictability of it is painful.
Audio playback is choppy and cuts off randomly and frequently when the display is off.
This happens with both the loudspeaker and with Bluetooth earbuds, with Now Playing enabled or disabled (for some people, disabling Now Playing fixes it, but not for me), and with Spotify and PocketCasts and YouTube or any other audio (even WhatsApp voice notes). Sometimes it begins the moment I start listening to something, sometimes it gives me a few minutes of respite then it gets triggered. The only way to avoid it? Keep the display on.
The video above shows it in action. I uploaded a slightly longer version to Google Drive if you like torturing your ears for nearly two minutes in 4K. When I turn off the display, music playback gets unbearably choppy, then resumes normally when I unlock the phone. The beginning of the video also shows a random bug where playback randomly skips a second when I unlock the phone; I’d say that happens one out of three times.
The latest Android 14 beta 2.1, which is supposed to fix some audio-related bugs, hasn’t fixed any of this. I’d say both issues seem to occur more rarely since I updated, but they do still occur.
Frequent freezes and app crashes, issues with charging, and camera slowness are some of the other bugs I've noticed.
Another problem I’m facing is with charging my Pixel 7 Pro. Every day, I wake up to a notification saying there was an issue with the charging accessory (it’s a documented bug) although my phone is fully charged. I’m using the same charger and cable as before, but the notification is keeping me on edge, wondering if it’s just a wrong notice or if there’s really something off with my Pixel’s charging.
In the six months I’ve had the Pixel 7 Pro, I don’t recall it completely freezing, ever. I’ve been blessed with a very stable experience. But in the last couple of weeks, this has happened at least four times. This is the bad freezing too; where you can’t even force a reboot by long-pressing the power button for ten seconds. Nothing works and you just have to wait for it to crash and reboot on its own. Beta 2.1 was released yesterday and it’s supposed to reduce those, so I guess we’ll see.
Other issues I’ve noticed are general camera slowness, especially when zooming or recording video. Now Playing wasn’t working, but the latest beta 2.1 seems to have fixed it for now. The loudspeaker was also popping randomly, which is a fun experience on top of the choppy audio playback. Again, this is supposedly fixed in beta 2.1 and I haven’t noticed it since yesterday.
Most, if not all of these bugs will certainly be fixed when Android 14 is officially released, but until then, I wouldn't install the beta.
So yes, Google is clearly working on ironing out all the kinks before Android 14 releases reach platform stability and become available to everyone. I hope the audio playback problem will be fixed as soon as possible, though, and not in August. Otherwise, I’ll have to reset my phone and go back to the stable version of Android 13.
In the meantime, if you’re teetering on the edge and thinking of testing the beta, I’d recommend you stay away. Unless you like living dangerously.