Google releases first Android 14 beta with new back arrow, better share sheets, and more

The beta is rolling out to eligible Pixel users in the Android Beta program.

A photo of the Android 14 logo on a Google Pixel 7 Pro.

We’re expecting to hear a lot about Android 14, Google’s next major platform update for Android, at this year’s I/O developer conference. But like previous generations of the OS, we’re getting an early sneak peek at it thanks to the release of the first public Android 14 beta.

This week, Google started rolling the beta out for eligible Pixel users enrolled in the Android Beta program, and it’ll feel instantly familiar to anyone who’s used one of the developer previews of Android 14 in the past. There are some UI tweaks like tighter spacing in the app drawer, an LED indicator option for notifications, and new animations in the media player widget. Google is also doing a lot of work under the hood to make Android more secure, like including new privacy prompts to limit an app’s access to your data.

In the first beta of Android 14, Google is introducing a redesigned back arrow that appears whenever you navigate backward on your phone. The arrow is meant to reflect the rest of your Material You design and “improve back gesture understanding and usefulness,” according to Google. It’s a small part of the new predictive back gesture interface in Android 14 which will show you the page you’re navigating to before you get there, giving you a glimpse as to where you’re going.

The beta also includes a “superior” share menu. In it, app developers can include specific actions from within their apps to make it easier to share content across the services you use the most. Each user’s share sheet will be different depending on which apps they share content with the most. It’s an improvement over the current implementation which lists each app on your phone alphabetically, which is kind of a pain to navigate if you want to share something quickly.

Other UI changes include a transparent navigation bar setting in Developer options, a tweaked version of app shortcuts, the ability to disable animations when entering a PIN, tweaks to Markup, and a new confirmation dialogue when you change the system language. 9to5Google went over all of these in their hands-on, which I highly recommend checking out.

In addition, the beta lets developers implement morphing effects in their apps with ease, new language preferences on a per-app basis, and a new attribute that restricts the visibility of sensitive data to accessibility services claiming to help users with disabilities.

Android 14 is at the beginning of its beta process. It’s expected to conclude sometime in July or August before it rolls out to the general public this fall.