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Android 15 features: Everything you need to know

From UI changes to performance improvements, to privacy and security features, here's what you should know about Android 15.
By
February 20, 2024
Android 15 logo on smartphone on coffee table stock photo (6)
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Android 14 was publicly launched with the Pixel 8 series back in October 2023. We’re a few months into the new year, and Google has begun testing the next version of Android with the release of Android 15 Developer Preview 1 for Pixel devices. This is the first available update for Android 15 and is intended for developer use. Still, it gives us a good look at what to expect in the next major release to the Android platform.

Android 15: Name and release date

Google used to name Android versions with dessert codenames, but it strayed away from that tradition with the release of Android 10, where it decided to stick with only the version number for all future releases. So Android 15 is simply known as Android 15. However, Google still uses the dessert codenames internally. Android 15’s internal codename is Vanilla Ice Cream.

Google has begun testing Android 15 through Developer Previews, though the final stable release is still several months away. Android 15’s release schedule includes developer previews running through mid-March, followed by beta releases up to May. Android 15 will reach platform stability in June-July, meaning that no new features or APIs will be added to the platform so that app developers can begin testing their apps against these public APIs. The next few releases will be focused on ironing out bugs.

Google hasn’t mentioned when the stable Android 15 builds will be released, but we presume it will happen alongside the Pixel 9 series launch, possibly in October 2024.

If you use a recent Google Pixel device, you will be the first in line to receive the Android 15 update. OEMs will take a little longer to release their functional Android UX skins on top of the Android 15 platform. We are likely to see developer preview builds surface in the coming months for select phones. For those who don’t mind taking matters into their own hands, you can follow our guide and install Android 15 on your phone by yourself.

Once Android 15 is released publicly, OEMs will run their own beta programs for their skins, followed by stable releases. You can check if your phone has received the update through our Android 15 update tracker.


Android 15: New UI changes, features, and UX improvements

Android 15 looks quite similar to previous Android versions, but there are some notable changes that Google has introduced with this update. There are also functionality updates to several important features. All of these features have either been officially announced, or have been spotted in the released Android 15 build.

Partial screen sharing

With Android 15, users can share or record just an app window rather than the entire device screen. This feature was enabled first in Android 14 QPR 2 on Pixel devices but will now be available across the wider Android platform.

Notification cooldown

Android 15 Notification Cooldown
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

There’s a new function that can be found within the Notifications section. This function is called “Notification cooldown,” and it lowers the volume of successive notifications that come from the same app. It’s designed to prevent users from being overwhelmed by too many notifications.

New in-app camera controls

New pixel camera app interface on the Pixel 7 Pro (right) next to the old interface on the Pixel 7 (right).
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Android 15 is adding new extensions for more control over the camera hardware on supported devices. New features added through these extensions include low light enhancements that give developers control to boost the brightness of the camera preview and advanced flash strength adjustments that enable precise control of flash intensity when capturing photos.

Universal toggle for keyboard vibration control

Android 15 Developer Preview 1 added a new “keyboard vibration” toggle that lets you universally disable keyboard vibration. When turned off, the system setting will override the setting within individual keyboard apps. When turned on, you can control the setting within individual keyboard apps, too.

Sensitive Notifications

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

Some forms of two-factor authentication (2FA) are safer than others, but many platforms rely on the most basic form of 2FA that sends one-time passwords (OTP) via text or email. However, Android 15 will fix that by adding a sensitive notifications feature that prevents your OTPs from being read by malicious Android apps.

Bluetooth popup dialog

Android lets you toggle Bluetooth through the Quick Settings tile, but most people leave the connection on to quickly connect to their accessories throughout the day. If you have multiple accessories around, you may find better utility with a Quick Setting tile that lets you toggle the individual connections to connect and disconnect to individual devices.

Android 15 brings this functionality, letting you click on the Bluetooth Quick Settings tile to open up a popup dialog that lets you perform more functions, such as toggling Bluetooth, connecting and disconnecting to individual devices, entering their settings page, and pairing new devices.

Health Connect

Android 15 includes updates to the Health Connect by Android platform, which adds support for new data types across fitness, nutrition, and more.

Virtual MIDI 2.0 Devices

Android 13 added support for connecting to MIDI 2.0 devices via USB, which communicate using Universal MIDI Packets (UMP). Android 15 extends UMP support to virtual MIDI apps. This enables composition apps to control synthesizer apps as a virtual MIDI 2.0 device, just like they would with a USB MIDI 2.0 device.

Changes for continuity features on foldables

With Android 15, you can control whether you want to continue to use apps on the front display on foldables. Mishaal Rahman notes that this feature was present on Android 14 QPR betas but was removed and is now returning. You can either have the front display turn on whenever you fold your device; have it turn on for games, videos, and other apps, or never turn it on and lock the front display when you fold your device.

If these settings feel restrictive to you, Mishaal Rahman notes that Google is also testing a “swipe up to continue” option that replaces the “only games, videos, and more” option. This mode will let you continue apps on the cover screen by swiping up on the lock screen after you fold your device.

Smaller changes

There are a few smaller changes as well that have been spotted on Android 15 builds so far:

  • There is haptic feedback when adjusting the display brightness through the Quick Settings slider (h/t Mishaal Rahman).

Android 15 performance improvements

Improvements to the Android Dynamic Performance Framework

ASUS ROG Phone 8 Game Genie App
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Android 15 continues work in the Android Dynamic Performance Framework (ADPF). ADPF is a set of APIs that allow games and performance-intensive apps to interact more directly with the power and thermal systems of Android devices. With these APIs, you can monitor system behavior better and then go a step further to optimize performance to a sustainable level that doesn’t overheat devices.

ADPF consists of these main features:

  • Thermal-state monitoring
  • CPU performance hints
  • Fixed-performance mode

On supported devices, Android 15 will add new ADPF capabilities, namely:

  • A power efficiency mode for hint sessions to indicate that their associated threads should prefer power saving over performance. This is said to be good for long-running background workloads.
  • Hint sessions can now report CPU and GPU work durations, allowing the system to adjust CPU and GPU frequencies together to best meet workload demands.
  • New thermal headroom thresholds to interpret possible thermal throttling status based on headroom prediction.

App and game developers can use these APIs to make their apps and games work better on devices that would support these APIs.

Locking WebView into memory

Android 15 Developer Preview 1 is locking into memory the trichrome library that Android System WebView uses. Many apps use Android System WebView to display internet content, as it helps them avoid building a web browser from scratch for such a task. Since the process is locked into memory, the Android system will deprioritize killing the process during regular RAM management operations.

In theory, apps that rely on WebView could see a marginal improvement in their performance to the extent of their use of WebView, especially on devices with less RAM where processes are more frequently purged from RAM.

Android 15 privacy and security features

Privacy Sandbox on Android

One of the highlights of the Android 15 update is that it incorporates the latest version of the Privacy Sandbox on Android.

Privacy Sandbox on Android is a multi-year initiative from Google that introduces more private advertising solutions that limit the sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers. The goal here is to develop an effective and privacy-enhancing advertising solution where user information is protected. This is needed to cultivate a healthy app ecosystem, which is needed for the overall health of the Android platform.

File integrity

Android 15 introduces a new FileIntegrityManager API that uses a feature called “fs-verity” in the Linux kernel. With fs-verity, files can be protected by custom cryptographic signatures, ensuring that they do not get tampered with or corrupted. So app developers can rest easy knowing that their app functionality and data are not compromised in any way.


Android 15: Leaked and upcoming features

In addition to all the features that Google has officially announced, and those that have been spotted in the Android 15 Developer Preview 1 build, there are plenty of changes that have been leaked and are rumored to arrive on Android 15.

Lockscreen widgets

Android supported lockscreen widgets with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, but the feature was killed off in Android 5.0 Lollipop. Since iOS brought lockscreen widgets with iOS 16, Android could bring widgets back to the lockscreen with Android 15.

There are a few approaches Google could take to bring widgets back to the lockscreen with Android 15, so we recommend following the link for more details. Note that it is possible that Google could reserve lock screen widgets to certain devices, namely hub mode devices like the Pixel Tablet.

Battery health percentage

Android 14 QPR2 Beta 2 Battery Health settings
Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

Android 14 laid the groundwork for the OS to track battery health information, while Android 15 could make battery health information accessible to users. The OS could show the estimated percentage of charge your phone’s battery can currently hold compared to when it was new. This would give users a clearer idea of how far their battery has degraded.

There are a lot of variables involved in this feature coming to light, though we cross our fingers and remain optimistic. iPhones already report their battery health in an easy-to-read manner, and that information has been valuable to users in deciding the condition of pre-owned units and if they should get their battery replaced.

App archiving through Settings

iOS has a handy feature that lets you “offload apps” to reclaim some storage space. You can uninstall apps you use rarely but keep the user data around. So when you reinstall the app, you can get back where you had left off.

With Android 15, Google could bake in a similar app archiving feature. The feature was announced back in 2022, but could finally see integration within the platform.

When an app is archived on Android, most of its working files will be removed, while a stripped-down version of the app will be retained. There will be a home screen icon which, when clicked, will trigger the Google Play Store to unarchive the app.

Google already lets you opt into auto-archiving through the Google Play Store. Since the feature is run through the Play Store, you cannot archive or unarchive apps through your phone’s Settings app.

App archiving in Google Play
Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

Android 15 could change this behavior by adding a new Archive and Restore button on the App Info page.

This way, even apps installed from outside of the Play Store could be archived from an easily accessible location.

Voice activation feature for digital assistants

cuva
Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority
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Android allows any app to become the default assistant app on your device, but it doesn’t let them use wake words like “Hey Google” in the background. Your phone would have to constantly listen to audio through the microphone in order to pick up the designated wake word.

Android 15 could introduce a new feature called “voice activation” that could use a privacy-preserving “adaptive sensing” technology to let other digital assistant apps use wake words.

Android 15 Voice Activation Apps
Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority
No apps currently request the voice activation permission, so we had to create a simple app to request it in order to produce the above screenshot.

Previous versions of Android allowed wake word detection, but Google removed the feature with Android 12. This upcoming feature could bring back the functionality, letting apps like ChatGPT and Amazon Alexa become accessible with a wake word, even when your phone’s screen is off. Pre-Android 15, only Google Assistant and Bixby on Samsung phones allow for hands-free voice activation through a wake word.

Auracast focus: Audio sharing to nearby Bluetooth LE Audio streams

With Android 15, Google could market Auracast as a key feature. Android 13 lets users share or connect to nearby LE Audio streams, but Android 15 could make the feature easier to discover. This would allow Auracast-supported devices to broadcast audio to nearby Auracast devices using BLE without the hassle of pairing. We expect a new “audio sharing” page to appear at Settings > Connected devices > Connection preferences to facilitate this audio sharing.

Private Space

Private Space is an upcoming feature, presumably coming with Android 15, that would let you hide apps and data on your phone. The feature could work similar to how Samsung’s Secure Folder works on Samsung Galaxy smartphones. With Private Space, you wouldn’t need additional third-party apps to hide other apps on your Android phone.

When the feature will go live, it will be available at Settings > Security & privacy > Private Space.

App Pairs to quickly launch split-screen app combos

Android allows you to run apps in split-screen mode, but you have to choose the apps every time you launch them. Android 15 could let you save split-screen app combinations as an App Pair, so you can quickly relaunch a pair of apps into split-screen mode.

When you save an app pair, an icon is added to the home screen that shows the two apps in a saved pair configuration. Clicking on this icon will launch this app pair configuration.

Edge-to-edge apps by default

Android allows apps to use the entire height and width of the display to showcase their content, but many apps do not take advantage of this. Android 15 could force apps to go edge-to-edge by default, though there is a chance that Google gives app developers some more time to adapt their apps.

Easy pre-set mode to improve readability and ease of navigation

Strings within past Android builds indicate that Google has been working on a feature called “easy pre-set mode,” which could arrive with Android 15’s later releases.

Easy pre-set mode could optimize the Android experience for improved readability and ease of navigation. It would do so by enlarging icons and text, adding contrast and boldness, and adding navigation buttons to the bottom of the screen. It would also set the current wallpaper to a black color, so you can have an easier time figuring out your icons and icon labels. A feature like this would be very handy for elderly or less tech-savvy users as it would make it easier to use the phone.


Android 15: Features we want to see

Android 15 is shaping up to be an influential update, but it’s not perfect. There is plenty that Google could improve, and since there is still time, we hope they consider some of these features to

Android 14 was a relatively iterative update, but everything we’ve seen from previous betas indicates Google is busy working on some bigger changes that will eventually make their way to Android 15. Before we dive into all the rumors, let’s start by taking a look at just a few features I’d love to see come to Android 15 update.

App cloning and/or a secure folder

Some of us have more than one account for select social or work-related apps. While many apps like Instagram, Messenger, and TikTok now have their built-in solutions for these scenarios, there are still many apps out there that don’t allow you to run more than one account without workarounds like fully logging in and out each time. Samsung and several other Android phone makers handle this in a variety of ways. For example, Samsung has a Dual Messenger feature that lets you clone a lot of major social networks, and you can also effectively run two instances using Samsung’s Secure Folder feature.

Android 15 should finally bring an official app cloning tool to Android. I’d like to see something that lets you make endless duplicates that can be placed anywhere on your phone, though it’s more likely we’ll just get our take on Secure Folder. In fact, the rumors already suggest Google is doing just that. The new feature will be called Private Space and will let Android users hide and lock their apps. Likely, you’ll also be able to run multiple instances of the app this way, though we don’t have any specifics on how all this will work.

Widgets could use an overhaul

New enhanced weather widget in One UI 6
Damien Wilde / Android Authority

It’s time for Android to update the way it handles widgets. Back in the earlier days of Android, you could add widgets to the lock screen, but this feature was removed with Android 5.0 Lollipop. It’s time for this to come back! We always felt they should be an option, but now that Apple has embraced widgets in a big way with iOS, the time is definitely right.

Widgets have evolved a lot recently, and in many ways, Apple is ironically leading the pack right now. This goes for stacked widgets as well. The ability to stack widgets in iOS is a helpful addition, and Android 15 could benefit from this and other widget enhancements if it wants to continue to be the leader in the widget space it created.

How likely is it that Android 15 will make these changes? Code within the Android 14 QPR2 beta suggests that lock screen widgets may soon be a thing, though there have yet to be any leaks or code suggesting stacked widgets are part of this plan.

Floating Windows

Floating app window on a smartphone
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Floating widgets aren’t as common in many of the most mainstream Android skins these days, but I’ve found the feature pretty useful when I’ve encountered them on skins like ColorOS and MIUI. In short, these skins let you resize any app so it fits on the screen without taking up the entire width of the display. You can even overlay apps onto other ones, which can come in handy. For example, you’re planning groceries for the week but need to keep using the calculator to add up totals. Keeping the calculator as a floating window makes it easy for you to grab and use at any time.

Is this a must-have feature many will care about? Probably not, but sometimes even the smallest additions can prove to be truly useful, even if only for some of us.

Further customization options, especially for icons

Photo of the lock screen on a Pixel phone
Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

Google has pushed customizability a lot in recent Android iterations, but I feel there’s room to go even further, especially when it comes to icons.

Android 12 introduced themed icons as a beta feature, but many app makers ignored the feature, so applying themes tends to create a garbled mess of inconsistent icons. Google needs to address this either by partnering with more app makers or by simply creating better tools that can take icons for apps that ignore this feature and force them into Google’s style, perhaps using some kind of generative AI. It’s certainly possible.

It’s not just about the theming, though. I’d like to see icons get more customizations for shapes, fonts, and even the style of icons presented in the Quick Menu. Android used to allow this, but its changes in Android 12 removed this for better consistency with its new theming system. Irony, anyone?

While we’re talking about customizations, I’d also like to see the Quick Menu get some love. While you can already do a fair amount with Quick Settings, I’d like to see more granular controls, such as combining shortcuts into one function. Let’s say you have a routine consisting of a few different shortcuts; this would allow you to trigger them all at once. On a related note, I’d also like the option to control some things separately that are combined, like Wi-Fi and Mobile Networks. I hated when Google merged these under one roof, and I know I’m far from the only one.