AI may have taken center stage at last week’s Google I/O event, but Dave Burke, VP of engineering at Google, did touch on a few new customization options coming to the lock screen on Android 14.
Android 14 was first announced back in February, with the release of its first Android 14 developer preview. In April, Google released the first public beta version of Android 14, and the second shortly after Google I/O, which you can download right now (as long as you have a compatible phone, like the new Pixel 7A or Pixel Fold).
The public and beta versions of Android 14 so far have brought improvements to privacy and security, like the ability to disable PIN animations to make it safer when unlocking your phone in public, and new features to accessibility, with larger font sizes for the visually impaired and flash notifications for those that are hard of hearing.
More customization options for your lock screen
A few customization options to the lock screen are coming to Android 14 later this year, demoed at the Google I/O keynote.
You now have the ability to add your own personalized clock to the lock screen on Android 14, choosing the font, color, size and design. There are also new shortcuts, which allow you to quickly jump into your most frequent activities, like turning on your flashlight, opening your wallet for payment or launching your camera to scan a QR code — directly from your lock screen.
Emoji and cinematic wallpapers
Android also has a couple new wallpaper options, including emoji and cinematic wallpapers, coming to Android, but not exclusive to Android 14.
The emoji wallpaper feature lets you choose up to fourteen different emoji, browse through various patterns and select a colors pattern to create a unique wallpaper for your home and lock screen. Emoji wallpapers are interactive, so the emoji will react any time you touch them.
With the cinematic wallpaper feature, you can turn any photo in your camera roll into a 3D image with motions effects to add as your backdrop. A sparkle icon button will give your photos a parallax effect as you tilt your device.
There are also generative AI wallpapers
Don’t have a wallpaper you’re happy with? Google has a new feature in Android that allows you to create a unique wallpaper with generative AI. To start, you choose a theme — for example classic art or mystical botanicals — and then a wallpaper is created. At the bottom of each wallpaper is a prompt that can be edited to further customize the existing wallpaper. Each prompt will also have several options you can swipe through.
A major update to Find My Device
Google is taking a page out of Apple’s playbook by improving how you find your missing devices, leveraging the millions of Android devices out there. For example, if you leave your Google Pixel buds at the airport, you can use any nearby Android devices to help you better locate your Android-powered phone. And if you have any third-party trackers, like Tile, on other items you own, you’ll be able to track them via Find My Device as well. This feature isn’t unique to Android 14, but will come to Android around the same time as the latest mobile operating system.
Unknown tracker alerts
Another feature coming to Android this summer is the ability to receive automatic notifications if your phone senses an unknown tracker following you. Apple and Google are working together to give people the information they need to quickly find out if they’re being possibly tracked by a stalker or thief — something that has been happening in the last few years. These unknown tracker alerts allow you to view a rogue tracker device, like an AirTag, on a map and force it to play a sound so that you can find it. You’ll even get instructions on how to disable the tracker completely, in case you’re concerned about your safety.