Google releases Android 14 for Pixel phones, and there's a lot to like

The latest version of Android brings better password management, AI-powered features, new lock screen customizations, and more.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer

Fresh on the heels of its Made by Google event where it revealed all the details on the latest Pixel phones and Pixel Watch 2, Google has dropped the latest version of its Android operating system. The new OS brings a ton of customization features, improved camera support, easier password management, and more.

Android 14 is available on Pixel phones today, starting with the 4A and later. Support for other manufacturers is coming later this year, the company says. 

Also: Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 7 Pro: Is it worth the upgrade?

Perhaps the biggest new feature is lock screen customizations that let users choose different clock styles, fonts, widgets, and formats, plus an AI-powered wallpaper generator that lets you have a totally unique wallpaper depending on what text you enter. It's worth noting though, the latter is "coming first" to the new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro

And now, your lock screen will also use AI to update itself depending on your situation. For example, Google said, if the weather is about to worsen, your weather widget will become larger to make sure you see it.

Custom lock screen shortcuts are also available that give the user the ability to set one-tap access to their most used controls, sort of similar to Apple's action button.

On the security front, Google touted expanded passkey support that lets users sign into more third-party apps with their fingerprint. And beyond that, logins are getting an upgrade all around, as Android's new Credential Manager takes all login methods -- including actual passwords and "Sign in with Google," and pulls them together in one location.

Also: Google Pixel Watch 2 hands-on: The biggest changes are hidden in plain sight

For the shutterbug (on that note, you should spring for the new Google Pixel 8 Pro if you want a fantastic phone camera), Android 14 adds support for Ultra HDR -- which helps your photos look their best by bringing out more vibrant colors and darker shadows. 

For the health-conscious, the newest version of Android takes your fitness, wellness, and health information and keeps it all in one place that's easy to see -- Health Connect. Previously, this would have been stored within whatever app that information came from.

Accessibility was also a focus, as Android 14 adds a number of vision and hearing features. The magnifier, Google says, will be more intuitive, with the ability to pinch and zoom in and out. A new Quick Settings option also lets users quickly change font size and type, offering better readability. 

Also: How to preorder the Google Pixel 8, Pixel Watch 2, and Pixel Buds Pro now

On the visual side, there's now the ability to turn on Flash Notifications that blink the phone flashlight when a notification is received. There's also new support for hearing aids that should make setting them up easier and better access to route audio to different outputs.

Pixel users looking to upgrade to Android 14 should receive a notification in the coming days that it's time to update their device.

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