Friday, May 24, 2024
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Android 15 Preview: Key Features and Updates


Android 15 release date

Google has released the schedule for the new Android development with the release of the Developer Preview in February. The first Beta arrived on schedule in April. The release candidate versions are expected in June and July, with the final release likely in September or October, alongside a new Pixel 9 family.

A roadmap of the Android 15 development milestones
Android 15 development roadmap. / © nextpit

That said, many companies are still updating their phones to Android 14 and will probably begin working on Android 15 developer programs later in the year. Here’s what we’ve seen from Google in previous years:

Past Android release schedules

Version Announcement / Preview Beta Release Candidate Stable release
Android 15 (2024) February (DP1) April June – July August -October
Android 14 (2023) February (DP1) April June (Beta 3) October
Android 13 (2022) February (DP1) April July (Beta 4) August
Android 12 (2021) February (DP1) May September (Beta 5) October
Android 11 (2020) February (DP1) June August (Beta 3) September
Android 10 (2019) March (Beta 1) March August (Beta 6) September

Android 15: How is it to be called? Is there a new dessert name?

We know Google went back to only using numbers for its system versions, but the tradition of dessert nicknames continues among the development team, where it all started, after all.

After Android 14’s exotic ‘Upside-Down Cake’, Android 15 will keep things simple, with a dessert name confirmed way back in March 2023: ‘Vanilla Ice Cream’.

vanilla ice cream on a bowl
Yummy! / © Pixel-Shot/Adobe Stock

But as mentioned above, don’t expect to see Google using the dessert codename in the official marketing materials. The company is expected to stick to its simple and straightforward “Android 15” branding.

Another old-school tradition that should return in 2024 is the Android statues, Android 14 got its Upside-Down Cake statue as shared by Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering. And Vanilla Ice Cream shouldn’t be different.

Android 14 Upside down cake statue
Pineapple slices on the bottom side, similar to the picture above. / © davey_burke/Twitter

Android 15: New features

As we approach the mid-cycle of the Android 15 development phase, we have a good idea of the features coming with the new system version, but as usual in a rapidly changing work-in-progress software, some features could be canceled, delayed to a future major update, or added in the next regular update.

The so-called “platform stability” is still a few beta versions away, so there is still room for more changes in the coming months. There are already some user-facing updates in the works, and we will explore them below. 

Android 15 screenshots showing the easter egg game
The About and pre-Easter egg pages already display the new “VanillaIceCream” info, but not the hidden game. / © nextpit

Android 15 features confirmed by the beta version:

App archiving moves from the Play Store to the system

While archiving apps has been an option for Android users for a while now—even with an auto-archiving feature for selected apps—Android 15 is now promoting the option to the system level, with a dedicated button on the App info screen (the same used to force stop and uninstall apps).

Screenshots showing the new "Archive app" option in Android 15 Beta 1
Android 15 offers the option to archive and restore apps. Archived apps are displayed with an altered icon (right). / © nextpit

That change can look small at first glance, but it will extend the feature to phones using third-party app stores and on ROMs without the Play Store app, including distributions based on AOSP.

Better security and privacy on cellular and Wi-Fi networks

A new Cellular field was added to the Security & privacy page in the Settings app. It currently shows options to require encryption when connected to a cellular network and/or to show a notification if the network has some insecure settings.

The options can help users avoid connecting to fake cell towers (a.k.a. stingrays), that can steal IMSI or IMEI data from your phone or SIM.

Screenshots showing the new security settings for mobile connections in Android 15 beta 1
The new cellular security options can warn you of a suspicious mobile connection. The middle image shows an apparent bug of screens showing double titles. / © nextpit

On the Wi-Fi status page, Android 15 adds a new Privacy field that can force the phone to anonymize the MAC address and hide the device name on the current network. The options are welcome, especially for those who need to connect to open Wi-Fis without passwords, since no law-abiding cafeteria customer needs to know who is using which phone…

Screenshots showing the new Wi-Fi privacy settings in Android 15 beta 1
No more broadcasting “Joe’s XYZ Phone” over open Wi-Fi networks. / © nextpit

Wallet apps can be set as a default option

With more and more banking apps offering the option to work as a wallet on smartphones, Android 15 will finally offer the option to choose which app can be set as a default. The feature will depend on apps including the support for the new field, but the change can be helpful if you have more than one app that can work as a NFC payment system and mostly use one daily.

Screenshots showing the new option to set a default wallet app on Android 15 beta 1.
Not every wallet-featured app is currently listed in the new default selection screen. / © nextpit

Weather widgets are now Pixel Weather widgets on Pixel Phones

In a very small change, the default weather widgets available on Google’s stock Pixel Launcher are now organized under Pixel Weather. The name change does not affect the available widgets, which are still the same current options. On the other hand, however, there is now a Weather app shortcut in the app drawer, which opens the Google Weather page.

Screenshots showing the renamed Weather widgets
A small change for all the weather fans out there. / © nextpit

Auracast audio sharing via Bluetooth

One of the coolest new features launched with the Bluetooth LE Audio specification, besides the more efficient LC3 codec, is the option to stream from one source to multiple headphones and/or speakers. The feature, known as Auracast, is usually exemplified through a public space offering a collective audio stream in a museum or stadium, but it can also be used on personal devices.

Android 15 Audio Share option screen
Auracast support on compatible devices can be enabled on a new Settings page. / © nextpit

To make it easier to use Auracast, Android 15 adds a new Audio sharing page to the Connected devices page on the Settings app. Activating the option makes it possible to connect multiple headphones, earbuds, and speakers with Auracast support and send audio simultaneously to all of them.

High-quality USB webcam mode

The Android 14 December 2023 Pixel Feature Drop added a USB webcam mode to Pixel phones. And while the image quality was far superior to standard laptop cameras, there was still some room for improvement apparently.

On Android 15, the feature added a small “HD” icon to the preview screen offering the option to turn on a higher-quality mode. Testing the new option on a Pixel 7a phone we didn’t notice any significant improvements. But it is possible that using a more premium smartphone with a high-bandwidth cable offers different results.

Native satellite communication support

Companies in the Android ecosystem scrambled to react after Apple added satellite messaging features to the iPhone 14 models. Some of the alternatives are still live, others were killed before even launching. Satellite communications on Android, however, all share the same issue: Each requires its own app, making them not interoperable.

Android 15 aims to change that by adding native support for satellite connectivity. Apps will be able to check if the device is outside traditional cellular coverage but connected to a satellite. And message apps—including RCS—will be able to switch to NTN (non-terrestrial network, aka satellite) connections to send or receive messages.

Bluetooth Quick Settings changes

The Bluetooth Quick Settings button on the Android 15 preview now works slightly different from previous versions. Instead of turning BT on/off, or serving as a long-press shortcut to the Bluetooth settings screen, tapping the button now opens a small popup with the main options, similar to how the Internet button works for Wi-Fi and mobile data.

Android 15 screenshots showing the new Bluetooth quick settings
Tapping the Bluetooth button in the Quick Settings now opens a pop-up with options instead of enabling/disabling the feature. / © nextpit

Keyboard vibration toggle in the Settings app

Some keyboard apps offer the option to provide haptic feedback while typing, but each keyboard presents the option in different ways. In Android 15, Google is offering the option natively in the Settings app, by going to Sound & Vibration > Vibration & haptics > Keyboard vibration. The toggle requires that the keyboard app supports the native option but hopefully the main apps will be updated until the Android 15 stable release. 

Android 15 screenshots showing the new Keyboard haptics option
A centralized place to toggle keyboard haptics in the Settings app. / © nextpit

Notification Cooldown

Receiving lots of notifications in quick succession can be annoying at best, and Google is preparing a change in Android 15 to “lower the notification volume when you get many successive notifications from the same app”. The new feature will probably be welcomed by users in many chat groups or with popular social media profiles, for example.

Android 15 screenshots showing the new Notification Cooldown option
Fight intrusive notification tsunamis with a progressively lower volume. / © nextpit

Camera Innovation: Empowering Third-Party Apps

One of the noteworthy enhancements in Android 15 pertains to the transformation of camera access for third-party applications. Imagine Instagram and TikTok delivering the same image and video quality as your phone’s main camera app. That’s becoming a reality.

Android 15 is set to enable full utilization of camera hardware, offering advanced in-app controls. This means you can adjust settings like lighting and color directly within your favorite apps, leveling up your content creation game.

Samsung has already made strides in this area with its Galaxy S24 series. They introduced Ultra HDR photos that shine on social platforms like Instagram, showcasing what’s possible when hardware and software work hand in hand.

Home Screen Efficiency: App Pair Shortcuts

Another cool feature coming with Android 15 is the creation of app pair shortcuts. This lets you launch two apps at once from your home screen—a boon for multitaskers. Whether you’re planning your day with a calendar and email side by side or following a recipe while watching a video, this feature is all about making your phone work smarter for you.

Custom Screen Recording: Tailored Content Capture

Android 15 is also set to introduce a selective screen recording feature. Instead of recording your entire screen, you’ll be able to pick a specific area of an app to capture. This precision allows for more focused and relevant content, whether you’re creating tutorials or showcasing app features.

Android 15 screenshots showing the new screen recorder option for app recording
The option to show screen touches is unavailable in the Android 15 preview. / © nextpit

Gaming and Security Enhancements: Smooth and Secure Performance

For the gamers out there, Android 15 is leveling up your experience with new APIs that boost dynamic gaming performance. Expect better thermal management and a smoother gaming experience, eliminating the need for external boosters. On the security front, Android 15 introduces secure file management with custom cryptographic signatures, ensuring your data is safer than ever.

Other changes in development for Android 15

  • Large-screen devices will have an option to always display the taskbar.
  • Foldable phones will have an option for the default behavior when closing the device: Turn on the cover display automatically, only continue with the same app after swiping up on the external display, or always lock the phone.  
  • Apps will be able to run on cover screens, even on devices without full support for running apps on the small external display.
  • Apps will be able to detect if there is a screen recording task running on the background.
  • A new setting will allow apps to inform loudness metadata, and Android 15 will adjust the volume to offer consistent loudness levels in different apps.
  • PDF support in apps will have the option to select, search, and edit forms in embedded documents, and also open password-protected files.

The still rumored features of Android 15:

Cloud file selection for the Photo Picker

Revealed by Mishaal Rahman at Android Authority, this small change will allow apps that use the native Photo Picker for sharing media to have access to images stored on Google Photos’ cloud storage, instead of relying only on local files.

Screenshots showing Google Photos cloud storage access for apps.
Users will be able to grant photo cloud storage access to apps. / © Mishaal Rahman/Android Authority

Those with large storage phones may not notice much of a difference, but the new feature can help many users with low-storage models that rely on constantly offloading files to online storage. This feature potentially can be distributed through Google Play Services, and may not be tied to Android 15.

Improved Thread and NFC support

Mishaal Rahman also revealed that both Thread (used by Matter) and NFC network integrations on Android will be moved to Project Mainline. That change means in practice that future updates for both protocols on Android will be handled not only by full OS version updates (e.g. going from Android 14 to 15), but also through Google Play Services updates. The same method is used for Bluetooth, UWB, and Wi-Fi support on Android.  

That integration is still pending confirmation, but since it was spotted back in May 2023, there is a strong chance it can happen with Android 15.

Better .pkpass file handling

Another background change that should affect a few people directly is a change in how .pkpass files are identified in Android. Also spotted by Rahman, the change consists of giving them a distinct mime type. In practice, Apple Wallet-like apps on Android can better integrate with and handle pkpass files—used for tickets, passes, and other useswithout having to hard-code support like apps do today.

Private Space for hiding apps

Screenshots showing the work-in-progress Private Space feature for protecting apps.
A special selection of apps can be hidden under a password. / © Mishaal Rahman/Android Police

A feature found in many custom skins is apparently under work for Android 15, Private Space creates a list of apps that can be protected by a password or biometric feature and is similar to Samsung’s Secure Folder. Revealed over Android Police by (guess who) Mishaal Rahman, the Space hides apps and their notifications under a password-protected profile, without having to create a whole new user on the device settings.

Android 15: Expected devices

As with every new Android release, Google’s Pixel phones are the first to receive the update. If you’re interested in trying out the Android 15 developer preview, you can now install it on a Pixel 6, 7, or 8 series phone, as well as the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet. The official Google Developer page has further information.

Since Android development is now quite predictable, we’ve created a guide listing the devices eligible for the new Android 15 update—I recommend checking it to see if your device is included.

Google Pixel 8 back cover highlighted
The Google Pixel 8 should receive Android 15 on day one. / © nextpit

Android releases often coincide with the launch of a new Pixel generation. Therefore, you can expect the Pixel 9 family to debut with the new Android version. According to Google’s update policy, Android 15 should be available for Pixel 5a and newer models.

The availability of the update for other brands and models will vary greatly. We suggest looking at our guide on the update policies of different manufacturers for more details.

As we’ve navigated through the anticipated wonders of Android 15, what features spark your imagination? Share your thoughts and join the conversation below. How do you envision Android 15 enhancing your digital life?


Article updated in April 2024 with Android 15 Beta 1 new features. Comments prior to the update were kept and may seem out of context.





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