The headliner at I/O 2023 was Google’s upcoming Search Generative Experience, a new AI-driven approach to search that has digital media publications staring off into the distance and questioning their life choices. But also, Android 14 will let you customize your wallpapers and ask AI to come up with snappy comebacks in text messages, so it all evens out. Or something.
Google released the first developer preview of Android 14 in February, and the second beta dropped(Opens in a new window) this week at I/O. A final release is scheduled for “later in the year,” Google says. At the company’s annual developer conference this week, we got a peek at consumer-focused AI customization options for the new mobile OS, plus a few extras for those with older handsets.
Some of these improvements are coming to all Android devices, while others are Pixel-exclusives. Here’s what we’re looking forward to testing out.
Emoji and Cinematic wallpapers (Credit: Google)
1. Rock Around the AI-Generated Clock
Google’s Material You(Opens in a new window) design approach lets you customize your Android device with a robust selection of dynamic wallpapers and complementary colors. Android 14 will add new lock-screen customizations, including clocks, shortcuts, and wallpapers.
Cinematic wallpaper, for example, turns photos in your library into 3D images, while emoji wallpaper lets you customize your device using emoji combinations, patterns, and colors. Look for both to roll out first on Pixel devices in June.
Generative AI, henceforth, will let you create a wallpaper from text prompts when it lands on Android devices this fall.
2. Improve Your Texting Skills With Magic Compose
Are your texts getting boring? Similar to Smart Compose on Gmail, Magic Compose for Android gives you a handy writing tool, letting you reply to others with messages suggested by AI. These can be simple automated messages, or more verbose, stylistic replies that make your messages appear more professional. You can also use Magic Compose to imitate famous writing styles, should you happen to feel like roleplaying as Shakespeare on a given day. Smart Compose rolls out this summer in beta.
3. Banish Bad Photos With Magic Editor
If your Photoshop skills are subpar, the AI-powered Magic Editor for Google Photos promises to let people make “complex edits without pro-level editing skills.” Dynamically edit photos to remove objects or reposition subjects for Instagram-worthy snaps. Google used the example of removing a bag strap or brightening the sky in a photo because “sometimes the difference between a so-so picture and the perfect shot comes down to getting the framing just right,” the company says. Select Pixel phones will get access to Magic Editor later this year.
4. Make Your Social Posts Pop
Speaking of Instagram photos, Google is adding support for Night Mode and 10-bit HDR video in social apps. Android 14 will also get Ultra HDR(Opens in a new window)“so you can take and view photos with bright colors, crisp shadows and all-around amazing definition.”
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5. Improved Find My Device
Once your Android devices are loaded with the latest and greatest features, make sure you don’t misplace them. An upcoming update to Find My Device(Opens in a new window) isn’t exclusive to Android 14, but it’ll roll out this summer alongside the new mobile OS. Once launched, Find My Device will tap into “over a billion Android devices across the world to help you locate your missing belongings like headphones, tracker tags, or even your phone via Bluetooth proximity.”
Currently, Find My Device locates missing gadgets that are connected to the internet and have location capabilities turned on. But that’s not super helpful if your phone has been snatched from a bag or pocket out in the wild. So using Android devices casts a wider net, similar to how AirTags use Apple’s network of devices to keep tabs on the tracker. (Eventually, both OSes might play nice with each other when it comes to tracking.)
Google says Find My Device will work with Bluetooth trackers from Tile, Chipolo(Opens in a new window)and Pebblebee(Opens in a new window). The Pixel Buds, as well as headphones from Sony and JBL, will also “join the Find My Device ecosystem soon,” Google says.
6. Enhanced Location Security
Trackers are great for keeping tabs on your devices, but they’re also being used by bad actors to stalk people. The problem is most obvious when people use AirTags to track those with an Android device. Unless you download a specific Android app, or hear the audible alert, you won’t get alerts about the unknown device. Google’s solution is unknown tracker alerts, which will alert you if it detects a tracker not linked to your device. Look on a map where the tracking originated, disable the tracker, or proactively search for them before an alert appears. Google says(Opens in a new window) this will “work with widely used Bluetooth trackers, including Apple AirTags and all trackers compatible with the Find My Device network.” It launches later this summer.
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