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Unveiling Android 15 Beta 1: What's New and What to Expect Next

Google has released the first public beta version news of Android 15, available for Pixel devices enrolled in the Android Beta Program. Android 15 Beta 1 is now accessible for compatible Pixel devices, including the Pixel 6, 6 Pro, 6a, 7, 7 Pro, 7a, Fold, Tablet, 8, and 8 Pro.


Unveiling Android 15 Beta 1

Developers and early adopters can now test the new features and provide feedback on the android 15 beta. The android 15 release date for Beta 1 was April 11, 2024, with build AP31.240322.018. This allows a closer look at the upcoming enhancements and improvements Android 15 will offer.


Design Enhancements

One of the key design enhancements in Android 15 Beta 1 is the seamless app scaling feature, which allows apps to automatically resize to fill the entire screen, eliminating translucent system bars. Additionally, apps targeting Android 15 will be displayed edge-to-edge by default, without the need to explicitly call certain methods, resulting in a more modern and immersive user interface.

Another notable enhancement is the introduction of Pixel Weather Widgets (exclusive to Pixel phones), providing users with a more personalized experience. Furthermore, Android 15 Beta 1 brings improvements to the NFC tap-to-pay experience, allowing apps to register a fingerprint on supported devices to be notified of polling loop activity.

Text display and accessibility have also received attention in this beta release. Android 15 introduces inter-character justification, which is particularly useful for languages like Chinese and Japanese that use whitespace for segmentation. Additionally, Braille display support has been improved through the HID standard over USB and Bluetooth.

apps targeting Android 15 will be displayed edge-to-edgeapps targeting Android 15 will be displayed edge-to-edge

System-Level App Archiving

One of the standout features in Android 15 Beta 1 is the system-level app archiving capability, which allows users to free up storage space by partially removing infrequently used apps, including those from third-party app stores. This OS-level support for app archiving and unarchiving enables users to reclaim valuable storage while preserving app data, ensuring a seamless experience when the app is reinstalled.

The app archiving process works as follows:

  1. Users identify apps they don't frequently use but don't want to completely uninstall.

  2. Android 15 removes the app's binary files while retaining user data and settings.

  3. This frees up significant storage space previously occupied by the app's binary files.

  4. When the user needs to use the archived app again, Android 15 can quickly reinstall the binary files from the respective app store, seamlessly restoring the app to its previous state with user data and settings intact.

This feature is particularly beneficial for devices with limited storage capacity, as it allows users to effectively manage their app library and storage usage without compromising on their app experience or data. Additionally, Android 15 introduces changes to key management for end-to-end encryption, further enhancing security and privacy aspects.


App Management

Android 15 Beta 1 introduces several enhancements to app management and developer tools. One notable addition is the ability for users to set a preferred wallet app as the default for payment functionalities, providing easier access to their preferred payment methods. The beta release includes new preferences for setting a 'Default wallet app,' streamlining the payment experience across various apps and services.

Developers can also look forward to improved app profiling tools in Android 15. A new ProfilingManager API allows apps to collect profiling information like heap dumps and stack sampling. This feature enables developers to identify and fix performance issues more effectively, ensuring a smoother app experience for users.

Furthermore, Android 15 Beta 1 brings enhancements to end-to-end encryption and securing background app activities. While the Platform Stability milestone is expected in June 2024, developers have several months to prepare their apps for the official release and take advantage of the new features and improvements.


Accessibility Improvements

Android 15 Beta 1 brings significant improvements to accessibility features, particularly for users relying on Braille displays. The update enhances support for Braille displays, enabling seamless integration with the HID (Human Interface Device) standard over USB and secure Bluetooth connections. This enhancement ensures a more robust and reliable experience for users who rely on Braille displays to interact with their devices.

One notable accessibility enhancement in Android 15 Beta 1 is the improved Braille display support within the TalkBack screen reader. TalkBack now supports Braille displays using the HID standard, allowing for a more efficient and secure communication channel over USB and Bluetooth connections. This improvement aims to provide a better overall experience for users who rely on Braille displays for accessibility purposes.

Key Accessibility Improvements:

  • Enhanced Braille Display Support: Android 15 Beta 1 introduces improved support for Braille displays, allowing for seamless integration with the HID standard over USB and secure Bluetooth connections.

  • TalkBack Braille Display Integration: The TalkBack screen reader now supports Braille displays using the HID standard, ensuring a more efficient and secure communication channel.

By enhancing accessibility features, particularly for Braille display users, Android 15 Beta 1 demonstrates Google's commitment to creating an inclusive and accessible mobile experience for all users, regardless of their abilities or needs.


Text display and accessibility improvements

Android 15 Beta 1 introduces several enhancements to text display and accessibility features. One notable improvement is the introduction of inter-character justification, which is particularly beneficial for languages like Chinese and Japanese that use whitespace for segmentation. This new justification method complements the existing inter-word justification, providing a more visually appealing and readable text display.

Another significant enhancement in Android 15 Beta 1 is the improved support for end-to-end encryption. The new E2eeContactKeysManager API facilitates end-to-end encryption in Android apps by providing a way to store and manage cryptographic public keys. This API empowers developers to implement robust encryption mechanisms, ensuring enhanced security and privacy for user data.

Furthermore, Android 15 Beta 1 brings improvements to accessibility features, such as:

  • Braille Display Support: The update enhances support for Braille displays, enabling seamless integration with the HID (Human Interface Device) standard over USB and secure Bluetooth connections. This improvement aims to provide a better overall experience for users who rely on Braille displays for accessibility purposes.

By introducing these enhancements, Android 15 Beta 1 demonstrates Google's commitment to improving text display, security, and accessibility, ensuring a more inclusive and user-friendly experience for all.


Text display and accessibility improvements

Security Updates

Android 15 Beta 1 introduces several security enhancements to protect user data and prevent malicious activities. One key feature is the introduction of cellular network security controls, providing more granular control over encryption settings and network security notifications. Additionally, users can now manage how their device is identified when connecting to Wi-Fi networks through the Wi-Fi Network Device Identification Management feature.

Google has also introduced a new OS-level API, E2eeContactKeysManager, for securely storing cryptographic public keys, improving end-to-end encryption. This API empowers developers to implement robust encryption mechanisms, ensuring enhanced security and privacy for user data.

Furthermore, Android 15 Beta 1 includes several measures to prevent malicious background apps from abusing user interaction and elevating privileges:

  • Changes to prevent malicious background apps from bringing other apps to the foreground and abusing user interaction

  • Restrictions on background activity launches to prevent malicious apps from abusing user interaction

  • Restrictions on malicious background apps launching other apps to the foreground

Other security improvements include:

Feature

Description

NFC Payment Enhancements

A new 'observe mode' and the ability to register a fingerprint for smoother NFC payment operations

New settings under 'Security & privacy > More security & privacy' for controlling cellular network security

Wi-Fi Privacy Settings

New fullscreen Wi-Fi 'Privacy' settings with a 'Send device name' toggle

Bluetooth Improvements

Stability, pairing reliability, LE Audio connectivity, and a security vulnerability fix for legacy pairing

With these security updates, Android 15 Beta 1 aims to provide users with a more secure and privacy-focused mobile experience.


Testing Android 15 Beta 1

It's important to note that Android 15 Beta 1 is pre-release software, so users should consider installing it on a secondary device to avoid potential bugs or disruptions. Developers are encouraged to test their apps for compatibility with Android 15 Beta 1, as more users are expected to try the beta in the coming weeks.

Known issues with the beta include:

  • Stability, battery, and performance problems

  • Accessibility issues

  • Compatibility problems with some apps

Top resolved issues include:

  • Fixed system network and 'BAL blocked' problems

  • Issues with Quick Settings tiles and Bluetooth

However, some top open issues remain, such as:

  • Picture-in-picture window disappearing on device rotation

  • 'Google Play services keeps stopping' message during device setup

  • Problems with Android Studio and Android Emulator

Developers are encouraged to test their apps on Android 15 Beta 1 as soon as possible, as more users are expected to try the beta in the coming weeks. The Platform Stability milestone, when final SDK/NDK APIs and app-facing system behaviors will be delivered, is expected in June 2024, giving developers several months to complete their testing before the official release.


Ease of Testing Android 15 Beta 1

Google has made it easier for developers to test their apps on Android 15 Beta 1. The Platform Stability milestone, where final SDK/NDK APIs and app-facing system behaviors will be delivered, is expected in June 2024, giving developers several months to prepare for the official Android 15 release. This extended timeline allows ample time for thorough testing and ensuring compatibility with the new features and enhancements introduced in Android 15.

To further streamline the testing process, Google has introduced several tools and resources:

  • Android Studio Integration: Android Studio, the official Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Android app development, has been updated to support Android 15 Beta 1. Developers can easily create and run test builds directly from the IDE, simplifying the testing workflow.

  • Compatibility Test Suite: A comprehensive suite of tests is available to help developers identify and resolve compatibility issues with their apps. This suite covers various aspects, including user interface, performance, and security, ensuring a smooth transition to Android 15.

  • Emulator Enhancements: The Android Emulator has been updated with improved performance and new features tailored for Android 15 Beta 1. Developers can simulate various device configurations, enabling thorough testing across different hardware and software scenarios.

Additionally, Google has provided detailed documentation and sample code to assist developers in understanding and implementing the new features introduced in Android 15 Beta 1. This includes guidance on leveraging the app archiving capability, implementing end-to-end encryption, and optimizing apps for the enhanced accessibility and text display features.


Conclusion

The Android 15 Beta 1 release marks an exciting milestone in Google's journey towards delivering a more immersive, secure, and user-friendly mobile experience. With its wealth of enhancements, including seamless app scaling, improved text display, and advanced accessibility features, Android 15 sets a new benchmark for inclusivity and personalization. The introduction of system-level app archiving and enhanced security measures further solidifies Android's commitment to optimizing storage and safeguarding user data.

As developers and enthusiasts explore the depths of Android 15 Beta 1, the possibilities for innovation and refinement become increasingly apparent. While some issues remain to be addressed, the extended timeline until the official release provides ample opportunity for thorough testing and collaboration. Subscribe to our newsletter for more updates related to Android 15 and stay ahead of the curve as this groundbreaking operating system continues to evolve.

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