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07 June 2023

Android 14 Beta 3 and Platform Stability

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Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering
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With today's Android 14 Beta 3 release, we're continuing into the next phase of the Android development cycle. It builds upon our core themes of privacy, security, performance, developer productivity, and user customization while continuing to improve the large-screen device experience on tablets, foldables, and more.

Beta 3 takes Android 14 to Platform Stability, which means that the developer APIs and all app-facing behaviors are now final for you to review and integrate into your apps. Thank you for all of your continued feedback in getting us to this milestone.

There's a lot to explore in Android 14 and test in your apps. Today with Beta 3, we’re highlighting new accessibility features such as non-linear font scaling, privacy upgrades including partial photos/videos access, new animation support in gesture navigation, and features that further align with the OpenJDK 17 LTS release.

Platform Stability

With Platform Stability in Beta 3, you can confidently develop and release any necessary compatibility updates. Please start your final compatibility testing now and prepare to publish any necessary updates so you can get valuable feedback during the remainder of the beta releases. This will help ensure a smooth app experience ahead of the final release of Android 14 later this year.image of timeline illustrates that we are in June and on track with Platform Stability for Android 14

If you develop an SDK, library, tool, or game engine, it's even more important to be testing now so you can release your compatible updates as soon as possible to prevent your downstream app and game developers from being blocked with compatibility issues. Also, when you've released a compatible update, please make sure to let your developers know.

App Compatibility

Each release of Android contains changes to the platform that improve privacy, security, and the overall user experience. These changes can affect your apps. Testing your app involves installing your production app onto a device running Android 14 Beta 3; you can use Google Play or other means. Work through all the app's flows and look for functional or UI issues. Review the behavior changes to focus your testing. Changes that may impact your app include:

Non-linear font scaling.
Starting in Android 14, the system supports font scaling up to 200% by default, providing low-vision users with additional accessibility options that align with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Perform UI testing with the maximum font size enabled (200%) to ensure that your app can accommodate larger font sizes without impacting usability. To get the most out of this feature, make sure that you're not hardcoding sp calculations from Configuration or DisplayMetrics, and use TypedValue's applyDimension() and deriveDimension() to convert between sp and px.

Grant partial access to photos and videos.
Users can now grant partial access to their media library when your app requests any of the visual media permissions (READ_MEDIA_IMAGES or READ_MEDIA_VIDEO) introduced in Android 13 (API level 33). When your app moves to the background, or when the user actively kills your app, the system treats these as one-time-permissions and eventually denies them. If your app is following permissions best practices, this change shouldn't break your app. Android 14 introduces the READ_MEDIA_VISUAL_USER_SELECTED permission to help apps better support the new changes. For a more seamless user experience, we recommend that you consider using the photo picker which provides a safe way for users to grant your app access to selected images and videos that does not require any permissions.

Data safety information is more visible.
To enhance user privacy, Android 14 increases the number of places where the system shows the information you have declared in the Play Console Form. For some permissions, the system runtime permission dialog now includes a clickable section that highlights your app's data sharing practices. This section of the system dialog includes information, such as why your app may decide to share data with third parties, and links users to where they can control your app's data access. We encourage you to review your app's location data sharing policies and take a moment to make any applicable updates to your app's Google Play Data safety section.

Please review the behavior changes section to see all of the changes that may impact the compatibility of your app or game. If you find any issues with libraries and SDKs in your app, try updating to the latest library or SDK version, reaching out to the developer for help if necessary.

Once you’ve published the compatible version of your current app, you can start the process to update your app's targetSdkVersion. Review the behavior changes for apps targeting Android 14 and consider using the compatibility framework to help you detect issues quickly. Here are some of the changes to test for (these apply only to apps with targetSdkVersion set to API 34 or higher):

Foreground service types are required.
If your app targets Android 14, it must specify at least one foreground service type for each foreground service within your app. You should choose a foreground service type that represents your app's use case. The system checks for proper use of foreground service types and confirms that the app has requested the proper runtime permissions or uses the required APIs. For instance, the system expects apps that use the foreground service type FOREGROUND_SERVICE_TYPE_LOCATION type to request either ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION or ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION. Android 14 introduces foreground service types for health and remote messaging use cases. The system also reserves new types for short services, special use cases, and system exemptions. If a use case in your app isn't associated with any of these types, it's strongly recommended that you migrate your logic to use WorkManager or user-initiated data transfer jobs.

OpenJDK 17 updates.
A few of the changes Android 14 makes to refresh core libraries to align with features in the latest OpenJDK LTS releases can affect app compatibility, including changes to regular expressions, UUID handling, and issues involving ProGuard and the addition of java.lang.ClassValue.

Security changes.
Apps targeting Android 14 can no longer send certain implicit intents to internal components. Runtime registered broadcast receivers must specify export behavior, unless they are receiving only system broadcasts. Dynamically-loaded code files must be marked as read-only. ZipFile(String) and ZipInputStream.getNextEntry() throws a ZipException if zip file entry names contain ".." or start with "/" to prevent the Zip path traversal vulnerability. There are additional restrictions on starting activities from the background, and updated restrictions to calling non-SDK interfaces.

Get started with Android 14

Today's Beta 3 release has everything you need to try the Android 14 features, test your apps, and give us feedback. For testing your app with tablets and foldables, you can test with devices from our partners, but the easiest way to get started is using the 64-bit Android Emulator system images for the Pixel Tablet or Pixel Fold configurations found in the latest preview of the Android Studio SDK Manager. You can also enroll any supported Pixel device here, including the new Pixel 7a, to get this and future Android 14 Beta and feature drop Beta updates over-the-air.

For the best development experience with Android 14, we recommend that you use the latest release of Android Studio Hedgehog. Once you’re set up, here are some of the things you should do:

  • Try the new features and APIs. Report issues in our tracker on the feedback page.
  • Test your current app for compatibility – learn whether your app is affected by default behavior changes in Android 14. Install your app onto a device or emulator running Android 14 and extensively test it.
  • Test your app with opt-in changes – Android 14 has opt-in behavior changes that only affect your app when it’s targeting the new platform. It’s important to understand and assess these changes early. To make it easier to test, you can toggle the changes on and off individually.

We’ll update the beta system images regularly throughout the Android 14 release cycle.

If you are already enrolled in the Android 14 Beta program and your device is supported, Beta 3 will be made available to you as an Over The Air update without taking any additional action.

For complete information on how to get the Beta, visit the Android 14 developer site.

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