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Android 14’s latest beta paves the way for a full launch sometime next month, but it’s still hinting at more features to come. One of those upcoming changes might be a warning when you try to sideload Google apps on Android 14.
Android Police reports that Android 14 adds the ability for app stores on your device to claim “update ownership” over select apps. This essentially just adds another step to sideloading, as a warning message will appear that states where updates normally come from, and reiterates the risk of sideloading. You can simply ignore the warning and continue on.
Apparently, Google apps are where we’ll see this first. A brief demo seen below shows Android 14’s new sideloading warning which says that updates are “normally” from the Play Store. In this case, Google Play Services was having an update installed via APK Mirror’s Installer app.
This app normally receives updates from Google Play Store. By updating from a different source, you may receive future updates from any source on your phone. App functionality may change.
This isn’t the only example of Google cracking down somewhat on apps in Android 14. Earlier this year, our Kyle Bradshaw and Dylan Roussel reported that Android 14 would also block the installation of “outdated” Android apps, whether they come from sideloading or an app store.
Android 14 set to block certain outdated apps from being installed
To help reduce the potential for malware, Android 14 will begin fully blocking the installation of apps that target outdated versions of Android.
For years now, the guidelines for the Google Play Store have ensured that Android developers keep their apps updated to use the latest features and safety measures of the Android platform. Just this month, the guidelines were updated, requiring newly listed Play Store apps to target Android 12 at a minimum.
Up to this point, these minimum API level requirements have only applied to apps that are intended for the Google Play Store. Should a developer wish to create an app for an older version, they can do so and simply ask their users to sideload the APK file manually. Similarly, if an Android app hasn’t been updated since the guidelines changed, the Play Store will continue serving the app to those who have installed it once before.
According to a newly posted code change, Android 14 is set to make API requirements stricter, entirely blocking the installation of outdated apps. This change would block users from sideloading specific APK files and also block app stores from installing those same apps.
Initially, Android 14 devices will only block apps that target especially old Android versions. Over time though, the plan is to increase the threshold to Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), with Google having a mechanism to “progressively ramp [it] up.” That said, it will likely still be up to each device maker to decide the threshold for outdated apps or whether to enable it at all.
If the minimum installable SDK version enforcement is enabled, block the install of apps using a lower target SDK version than required. This helps improve security and privacy as malware can target older SDK versions to avoid enforcement of new API behavior.
By blocking these outdated apps, Google intends to curb the spread of malware apps on Android. The developer responsible for the change notes that some malware apps have intentionally targeted older versions of Android to bypass certain protections only enforced on newer apps.
That said, if for whatever reason you want or need to install an outdated application, it will still be possible through a command shell, by using a new flag. Given the extra steps required, it’s less likely that someone would do this by mistake and inadvertently install malware.
How to install the Android 14 Beta on Google Pixel
After a few early developer previews, the Android 14 Beta program has officially arrived. Here’s how to get Android 14 on your Google Pixel smartphone.
What Pixel devices can install the Android 14 Beta?
Android 14 will drop another set of Pixel smartphones out of active support, but several will still be eligible. The following Pixel devices will be eligible for the Android 14 Beta program.
- Pixel 4a 5G
- Pixel 5
- Pixel 5a
- Pixel 6
- Pixel 6 Pro
- Pixel 6a
- Pixel 7
- Pixel 7 Pro
- Pixel 7a
- Pixel Fold
- Pixel Tablet
While Pixel 7a, Pixel Fold, and Pixel Tablet joined the party late, they’re all eligible to test out Android 14 at this point.
What’s the latest Android 14 Beta build?
As of July 11, 2023, Google has just opened the fourth beta release of Android 14, one of the last big releases before the final release.
Google has scheduled a total of five beta releases through May, June, and July, with the final release likely to arrive in August.
- Beta 1 (April): Initial beta-quality release, over-the-air update to early adopters who enroll in Android Beta.
- Beta 2 (May): Incremental Beta-quality release.
- Beta 3 (June): First Platform Stability milestone, including final APIs and behaviors. Play publishing also opens.
- Beta 4 (July): Near-final builds for final testing.
- Beta 5 (July): Near-final builds for final testing.
- Final release: Android 14 release to AOSP and ecosystem.
This adds one additional beta compared to Android 13’s release schedule, which only had four beta releases.
Notably, some users have noticed that the first two beta releases of Android 14 have been a bit more erratic compared to previous years. We’d certainly advise caution if you plan to try the beta on a daily device. As usual, proceed at your own risk.
How to get Android 14 with the Android Beta Program
The easiest way to get Android 14 on your Google Pixel device today is through the Android Beta Program.
This automated program allows you to “opt-in” to Android beta updates and install them as you would a normal system update. There’s no computer or fancy tools required, and you can roll back to Android 13 any time you’d like by simply opting out.
How to sideload Android 14 Beta on Google Pixel
By far, the fastest way to get a new version of Android on your Pixel is to sideload it. It’s a relatively easy process, but you’ll need to get set up to do it. Here’s how.
- Download the needed files.
- Boot into Recovery mode.
- Navigate to ADB sideload.
- Connect the handset to a computer with ADB tools installed.
- Enter the sideload command.
- Reboot your phone.
1. Download Android 14 Beta files
To get started, you’ll first need to download the files needed to actually put the Android 14 Beta on your Pixel. There are two ways to do so. First, you can install a Factory Image, which wipes your phone and starts everything from scratch. Alternatively, and the way we’ll detail here, there’s an OTA file, which installs over your current version of Android without wiping your phone.
You can download the beta OTA file from Google’s Full OTA Image hosting site. That site contains OTA downloads for sideloading different updates, including the Android 14 Beta, on every Pixel and Nexus device, so you’ll need to scroll down to ensure you are downloading the file that associates with your device. OTA downloads are available here.
For the Android 14 Beta, only Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5a, Pixel 5, Pixel 6/Pro, Pixel 6a, Pixel 7/Pro, Pixel 7a, Pixel Fold, and Pixel Tablet are available.
You won’t be able to install it on the original Pixel/XL, Pixel 2/XL, Pixel 3/XL, Pixel 3a/XL, Pixel 4/XL, or Pixel 4a.
Note: This process (using OTA) won’t wipe your device, but it’s good practice to back up any irreplaceable data in case something goes wrong.
2. Boot into Recovery mode
Next, you’ll boot your Pixel into Recovery mode. To do this, fully power down your handset. Then hold down on the Power button and the Volume down button at the same time until you get to the Bootloader page. You will know you’re in the right place when you see an Android figure lying down on the screen.
Using your volume buttons, scroll down to Recovery mode. Select this by clicking the power button. Alternatively, if you’re already connected to a computer with ADB, you can use the reboot recovery command.
Now, you should see a smaller Android lying down with an exclamation mark over it. From here, press the Power button and the Volume up button for about a second to fully enter Recovery mode. Releasing the Volume up button will send you into Recovery.
Using the volume buttons, scroll down to Apply update from ADB and select it with the power button. This will launch a mostly blank screen with text near the bottom directing you on how to sideload an OTA, such as this one for the Android 12L Beta.
4. Connect the handset to a computer with ADB tools installed
This step is important as it’s the only way to transfer the downloaded OTA file to your handset. You’ll need to have ADB and Fastboot tools in a handy place. You can download ADB tools from the Android Developers website. You can also use the Universal ADB Drivers from ClockWorkMod, which can make the process a bit easier on Windows devices.
5. Enter the sideload command
As long as everything is in place, you can now sideload the OTA file. On Windows, ensure your Command Prompt is directed to the ADB tools folder and type in adb sideload. If you’re on macOS or Linux, do the same thing in Terminal (use “cd” and “ls” commands to make sure your Terminal is pointed at the right folder – Google it if you need help) but type in ./adb sideload. You’ll then need to insert the file name of the .zip folder you downloaded from Google and hit enter to start the process.
If everything is working properly, you should see some dialog on your computer and handset that shows the process of the sideload and installation process.
6. Reboot your phone
Once the OTA is done installing, you will be taken back to Recovery Mode. The last step to jump into the new update is to select the Reboot now option with your power button.
In recent weeks, the Android 14 Beta has steadily tweaked the share sheet to look cleaner and show more options.
Despite being a central component of Android, the share sheet has long been one of the weaker points of Google’s mobile operating system. The share sheet has gone through numerous iterations over the years, each one aiming to make it faster or better in some way, though sharing on Android still remains surprisingly slow.
Over the course of the Android 14 Beta, Google has made some changes to the share sheet. One more noticeable change, arriving with Beta 3, is that the share sheet is now five icons wide (up from four) on typical phones. This makes more options visible on screen at a time and is a shift toward more density rather than the extra blank space that some Material You designs have opted to take. As always, you can scroll the sheet to view the full list of available share targets.
Meanwhile, another tweak arrived with this week’s Android 14 Beta 4 release. The sheet now also includes a title that explains what you’d actually be doing. For example, if you choose to share a website from Chrome, you’ll see “Sharing a link” with the actual URL below it.
If you’re sharing any text, a shortcut to copy it to your clipboard will appear on the right-hand side. Similarly, when sharing an image, you’ll be offered an option (pencil icon) to first edit it in Markup.
Android 14 Beta 4 changes ‘Muted’ status icon design
Android 14 Beta 4 is here and small tidbits and changes are surfacing as we dig through the new OS version. One such change is a completely new design for the “Muted” status, leaving behind the familiar bell icon for a more modern look.
Most Android devices have three sound states: sound on, vibrate, and silent. While each person has their preference as to which they leave their phone set to, only one of those displays a status icon in the top bar, next to the WiFi and battery readouts.
In Android 14 Beta 4, a Pixel phone or other device set to silent or “muted” will now display a small yet very familiar speaker icon. This switch replaces the bell icon we’ve seen in past Android builds. The change makes a little bit of sense, as the bell could be seen as confusing to some, though it’s a very small adjustment.
In Android 14 Beta 4, no other sound states offer a status icon. The “muted” state remains the only one to reflect in the status bar, though a status icon for vibrate and sound on would be nice.
Another spot the icon is updated with the speaker silhouette is in the slider that appears when pressing the volume rockers. Instead of a ball icon and another with a slash through it, there is now one speaker icon and another with a slash, representing mute.