Cloud

Got a Google Pixel? Check out these awesome Android 14 gems


If you’ve got one of Google’s Pixel phones, good news: You’ve almost certainly got Google’s snazzy-sounding update to Android 14 on your device and waiting — whether you’ve noticed much about it yet or not.

Speaking of which, the slightly less exciting news: Odds are, whenever that update first landed on your device, your initial reaction fell somewhere between a “huuuuh?!” and an “uhh, all riiiiiight….” (There may or may not have been a quizzical expression of some sort involved, too, along with the possibility of a perplexed “harumph.”)

That’s because on the surface, Android 14 really doesn’t look all that new or noteworthy. In fact, if the update were to pop up on your Pixel without warning, there’s a decent chance you wouldn’t even notice anything different at all.

But don’t be fooled. First of all, as usual, Google’s latest Android version has plenty of significant stuff going on under the surface — when it comes to the less obvious yet incredibly important improvements in areas like privacy, security, and performance. And beyond that, remember: Google’s subtly shifted toward a model where system-level updates show up year-round on Android via decoupled apps in the Play Store — something that’s a huge advantage of us on this side of the mobile-tech divide, even if does take some of the oomph out of the annual foundational updates.

All that aside, though, Android 14 actually does have some noteworthy new touches that are worth your while to find. You’ve just gotta know where to look — and, in some cases, how to dig ’em up and discover ’em.

[Psst: If you want even more Pixel magic, check out my free Pixel Academy e-course. There’s so much more to be found…]

Here are 12 of my favorite Android 14 additions so far. Try ’em out on your own favorite Pixel device and see if they move you from a “harumph” to a “heeeey, not bad!” reaction.

Android 14 feature #1 for Google Pixel phones: Drag text

This first Android 14 goodie might be the goodiest of all — but it’s also one of the least likely for you to find without a nudge in the right direction.

Here it is, though: As of Android 14, your purty ol’ Pixel will let you highlight text in one app and then drag it directly into another — no cutting, pasting, or virtual witchcraft required.

It does require a bit of finesse to make happen, but once you know how to do it, it’s really pretty simple:

  • First, open up an app with some selectable text in it — like, for instance, Google Keep.
  • Touch and hold your finger to some text to select it, using the cursor to highlight whatever specific words you want. Then let go.
  • Now, touch and hold your finger to that freshly highlighted text, and you should see it lift up as if it’s being moved.
  • Here comes the fun part: While continuing to hold that text with your suspiciously sticky finger, use your other hand to either swipe up or swipe sideways on the bottom of the screen to switch to another recently opened app. (And yes, this move requires you to be using the current Android gesture system. If you’re still clinging onto the old legacy three-button nav setup, maybe it’s time to consider a switch?)
  • Once you land in another app, drag the text into any open text space and let go — then take a moment to marvel at what just happened.
Google Pixel Android 14: Drag and drop JR

With Android 14’s hidden drag-and-drop option, you can transport text between any two apps with ease.

This move is even easier and more natural to pull off if you open up two apps on-screen together with Android’s split-screen mode, as you can then drag and drop directly from one to the other without even having to do the nav-bar dance. (And that’s even more natural to do on a Pixel Fold or Pixel Tablet, where you’ve got extra space for such a setup and where multitasking really becomes a key part of the user experience.)

But once you get the hang of the select-and-swipe move here, it’s an awesome new productivity-pushing possibility to possess.

Android 14 feature #2 for Google Pixel phones: The lock clock

Next, a new Pixel possibility you might’ve heard your fellow Android-adoring animals oohing and ahhing over during this software’s beta phase: With Android 14, Google’s bringing some formidable flexibility into the operating system’s native lock screen environment.

And up first is a whole new look for your lock screen clock, should you choose to embrace it.

If you’re up for the adventure, try this:

  • From the lock screen itself, press and hold on any open space and then look for the Customize Lock Screen button at the bottom — or, if you’d rather start from your home screen, press and hold any open space there and then select “Wallpaper & style” and tap the “Lock screen” selector at the top of the screen that comes up next.
  • However you get there, slide your finger sideways along the image of your lock screen, and you’ll be able to switch among several different clock styles.
Google Pixel Android 14: Lock screen clock JR

Google’s Pixel phones have all sorts of new lock screen clock options in Android 14.

You can also tap the “Clock color and size” tile directly beneath that image to adjust — well, y’know, your clock’s color and size. Notably, switching from the “Small” to “Dynamic” size option will open up some interesting new clock display options — like this nifty little ditty that uses some of your lock screen’s open space to show you a large view of the date and current weather in your area anytime you have no notifications pending.

Google Pixel Android 14: Lock screen clock dynamic JR

One of the more eye-catching Android 14 Pixel lock screen options.

And one more thing, while we’re in this area…

Android 14 feature #3 for Google Pixel phones: Sweet shortcuts

Take note: With Android 14, you can take total control of the built-in shortcuts on your phone’s lock screen and make ’em infinitely more useful for your own personal needs.

In that same lock screen customization screen we were just exploring, look for the line labeled “Shortcuts.” (Depending on your specific Pixel and the size of its display, you might have to scroll down a skosh to see it.)

Tap that son of a goober — and hey, how ’bout that? You can move between the left and right lock screen shortcut and select from a variety of available options for one-tap function flying.

Google Pixel Android 14: Lock screen shortcuts JR

The Android 14 lock screen has customizable shortcuts for Pixels.

Oh, and speaking of snazzy new step-savers…

Android 14 feature #4 for Google Pixel phones: A secret link

Here’s one you’d never realized existed unless you just happened to stumble onto it by accident — but my goodness, is it a handy new option to keep in mind:

Android 14 brings back the once-present but long-missing shortcut to jump straight from your Pixel’s Quick Settings section to the Pixel Clock app. I have no idea why Google eliminated this for a while, but I’m absolutely glad it’s back!

To try it:

  • Swipe down twice from the top of your screen to open your full Quick Settings panel.
  • Tap the clock in the upper-left corner of that area.
  • Say “Ooga-te-booga,” for good measure (and for my own amusement in knowing you’ll look like a complete nit to anyone and everyone around you).

And that’s it: In the blink of an eye, you’ll be zapped over from whatever you were doing to the Clock app. It’s the fastest way to get there from anywhere — and now you know how to make that teleportation happen.

Android 14 feature #5 for Google Pixel phones: Better back

Speaking of flying from one thing to another, one of Android 14’s most significant features is strangely also one of its most buried.

I’m talkin’ about a hefty new improvement for the system-wide back gesture — the one where you can swipe in from the left or right side of the screen to move back a single step in any app you’re eyeing. (Again, this is specific to Android’s current gesture system and doesn’t apply if you’re still stickin’ with the old three-button nav setup.)

For context: Android’s back command has always been a bit of a blessing and a curse. It’s a fantastic way to move around your Pixel, and it makes platforms without such an option feel like locked-in messes of confusion in comparison.

But at the same time, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of exactly what’ll happen when you swipe back in certain apps or processes — whether you’ll be taken back to another area of that same app, for instance, or dropped back out onto your home screen.

With Android 14, Google’s laying the groundwork to correct that. The software includes a new predictive back setup that lets you see a teensy peek at where you’re going as soon you start to swipe in from the side of your screen — so that way, you can decide on the fly whether you want to keep swiping and land there or if you’d rather reconsider and stop.

See?

Google Pixel Android 14: Predictive back JR

Android 14’s new predictive back addition in action.

Now, here’s the catch — two of ’em, technically: First, the feature works only in a limited subset of apps that explicitly support it — which basically means a small handful of Google’s own self-made creations, at this point. And second, you’ve really gotta go out of your way to enable this and get it working at the moment.

In fact, you’ve gotta spelunk deep into your device’s developer settings — which isn’t something I’d typically advise most people to mess with, ’cause you can really mess things up if you hit the wrong option in that area. But as long as you very carefully follow the steps here and don’t touch anything beyond the single setting we’re seeking, there’s no reason not to enable this and give yourself a taste of Android’s gesture-refined future:

  • First, go into your Pixel’s system settings and tap the About Phone section.
  • Scroll all the way to the bottom of that menu and find the line labeled “Build number.”
  • This next step is gonna sound crazy, but I swear it’ll work: Tap that line a bunch of times in a row until you see a message about enabling Android’s developer settings.
  • Put in your PIN, password, or pattern when prompted to confirm you actually want to do that.
  • Now, tap the search box at the top of the settings screen and type the word predictive into the search area.
  • Tap “Predictive back animations” in the results.
  • Flip the toggle directly next to “Predictive back animations” when you get taken to that line within the developer settings and confirm that you want to activate the associated option.
  • Swipe out of that menu and don’t touch anything else there!

Now just swipe around in your system settings — or try a Google app like Google News or your Pixel Phone app — and you’ll see that satisfying new back peeking preview in action.

Android 14 feature #6 for Google Pixel phones: Fast font flipping

This next Pixel prize is actually something I mentioned inadvertently while talking about Pixel shortcuts a few weeks back. I’d been using the Android 14 beta on my personal Pixel phone, y’see, and it didn’t even dawn on me that this feature was connected to that and not something available more broadly at that moment! (D’oh.)

Now that you’ve got Android 14 in front of you, though, this goodie should be there and waiting. It’s a handy new Quick Settings tile that lets you adjust the font size in any app you’re eyeing and make the text bigger or smaller in the blink of an eye — without ever interrupting what you’re working on.

See?

Android 14 Google Pixel: Font size JR

Boosting up font size is easier than ever with Android 14 on a Pixel device.

All you’ve gotta do is take 20 seconds to surface it:

  • Open your Pixel’s Quick Settings by swiping down twice from the top of the screen.
  • Tap the pencil-shaped editing icon in the lower-right corner of the panel.
  • Scroll down until you see the section of inactive tiles — with the phrase “Hold and drag to add tiles” at its top.
  • Look for the Font Size tile within that area, then press and hold your finger to it and drag it up into the section of active tiles.
    • Note that if you place it in one of the first four slots, you’ll always see it with a single swipe down from the top of your screen for especially easy access.

That’s it! Now, anytime your eyes feel like they could use an assist, just tap that tenacious tile and adjust away. Easy peasy.

Android 14 feature #7 for Google Pixel phones: Magnificent magnification

While we’re talkin’ text, take 10 seconds to try out Android 14’s enhanced magnification system. It’s technically an accessibility feature, but Android’s accessibility options can often be useful for just about anyone in the right sort of situation.

So make your way to the Accessibility section of your Pixel’s settings and tap the line labeled “Magnification” — then:

  • Flip the toggle next to “Magnification shortcut” into the on position.
  • Tap the words “Magnification shortcut” and make sure “Tap accessibility button” is unchecked and “Hold volume keys” is checked. (Otherwise, you’ll end up with an annoying permanent button for this function on the side of your screen!)
  • Tap “Save.” 
  • And finally, tap “Magnification type” and change its setting to “Magnify part of screen.”

Now, anywhere in Android, do this:

  • Press your Pixel’s physical volume-up and volume-down buttons at the same time and hold ’em down for a second or so.
  • When you see a pop-up confirming that you want to use the Android Magnification feature, tap “Turn on.” (This should only happen the very first time you use this option.)
  • Now, when you see an orange box show up on your screen, touch the icon in its corner to move it around to any area of the display you’d like to make larger — then slide two fingers apart on the screen within it to increase the magnification and slide ’em back apart to decrease it.
Android 14 Google Pixel: Font size JR

Zoom in, zoom out: Android 14’s newly improved magnification mode in action.

When you want to dismiss the magnification box, just press and hold your volume keys together once more. And if you ever want to disable this feature entirely, head back to that same settings menu and flip the switch next to “Magnification shortcut” to turn it back off.

Android 14 feature #8 for Google Pixel phones: Flashy alerts

No one wants to miss an important notification — right? Well, with Android 14, your favorite Pixel’s got a flashy new option to make sure you always see important stuff as it arrives.

It’s a simple switch that’ll flash your phone’s camera light and/or screen anytime a notification comes in or an alarm goes off on the device. That way, anything requiring your attention will always catch your eye.

Android 14 Google Pixel: Flash notifications JR

Warning: Flashing may occur.

This is another one that you’ll find within your Pixel’s Accessibility settings section. Just activate the toggle next to “Camera flash” or “Screen flash” — or both, if you really wanna get wild! — and then hit the Preview button to test it out.

Note, too, that if you tap the words “Screen flash,” you can choose any color for the screen to use in its lit-up state.

Party time, baby!

Android 14 feature #9 for Google Pixel phones: Notification nuance

This next Pixel gift is something so simple, it’s almost shocking we haven’t had it up ’til now — but oh, it be true: With Android versions prior to Android 14, Pixel phones have strangely lacked the ability to set separate volume levels for incoming calls and notifications.

It’s a small detail but a significant one, especially if you ever find yourself wanting your notifications to be loud but your ring to be a little less jarring.

And I’m happy to report that as of Android 14, the frustrating flaw is fixed.

Just mosey your musty self back into your system settings, and this time, march into the Sound & Vibration section. And goodness gracious, wouldya look at that?

Android 14 Google Pixel: Ring and notification volume JR

Separate ring and notification volume sliders in Android 14? It’s a Pixel miracle!

Now, that’s a sight for sore eyes — and ears.

Android 14 feature #10 for Google Pixel phones: Day and temp flexibility

While we’re thinking about nuance, this next little nugget is a teensy-seeming detail but one that could represent quite the nice little improvement for some people:

With Android 14, your Pixel now permits you to select which day you want your week to start on and which temperature measurement you prefer — and then have those choices apply in all apps, all throughout your Android experience.

To make such an adjustment:

  • Slither your way into the System section of your Pixel’s settings.
  • Tap “Languages,” then “Regional preferences.”
  • Let out a happy hoot and adjust, adjust, adjust away.
Android 14 Google Pixel: Regional preferences JR

Android 14’s new system-wide temperature and day preferences, as seen on the Pixel 8.

Current temperature: satisfied.

Android 14 feature #11 for Google Pixel phones: Location information

Android’s been giving us more and more control over important system permissions with every passing version for a while now, and Android 14 continues that tradition in an interesting new way.

In short, anytime an app requests permission to access your device’s location, your Pixel will now tell you exactly why the app needs that data — and what it intends to do with it.

Android 14 Google Pixel: Location permission JR

Ah — actual context around a location permission! Novel, no?

There’s nothing you need to do on this one; it’s just something that should start happening as the situation arises (and as apps catch up with the new requirement and begin to comply).

And one more privacy-centric present, before we call it a day…

Android 14 feature #12 for Google Pixel phones: Health control

If you use your Pixel for any manner of health-related purpose — including connecting it to a watch or any sort of health-related wearable — you’ll absolutely want to seek out the newly added Android 14 Health Connect dashboard.

It’s a whole new section of your Pixel settings that lets you see and control all of your health and fitness data and manage exactly which apps and devices are able to access it.

To find it:

  • Sprint into the Security & Privacy section of your Pixel system settings.
  • Tap “Privacy.”
  • Then tap “Health Connect.”
Android 14 Google Pixel: Health Connect JR

A healthy new way to control your health data on any Pixel device.

Just be sure to do some stretching once you’re done exercising all those privacy-reclaiming muscles, all right?

Don’t miss an ounce of Pixel magic. Come start my free Pixel Academy e-course to discover oodles of hidden features and time-saving tricks for your favorite Pixel phone.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.



READ SOURCE