The Pixel 8 is finally getting support for display output over USB-C

Google Pixel 8 review
(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Despite the existence of competing options, like Samsung's DeX, Google Pixel phones have been lacking in display output support.
  • Not only does the Pixel Launcher lack a desktop environment available to end users, Pixel phones have been without DisplayPort Alternate Mode support.
  • With the release of Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2, Google is enabling DP Alt Mode and allowing users to connect their Pixel to external displays.

Pixel users got excited when it was revealed that Google was supporting DisplayPort Alternate Mode at a hardware level on the Pixel 8 series. However, Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro owners were quickly disappointed to find out that Google was still blocking external display connections over USB-C with software. Now, months after the Pixel 8 series debuted, it looks like Google has changed its mind and plans to support display mirroring over a cable.

As Mishaal Rahman revealed at Android Authority, Google has added software support for DP Alt Mode with the release of Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2. When you connect a Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro to an external monitor, a "mirror display" option will appear. If you tap to enable it, your Android operating system will be shown on the connected monitor or TV. Notably, unless you manually enable desktop mode in developer options, you'll be stuck with Android 14's regular view.

Even then, Rahman notes that the Android desktop mode that can be enabled in developer options is the older, built-in version that has been around since Android 10. An overhauled version is supposedly on the way, but it requires multiple Android flags to be enabled before it can be accessed. Rahman suggests that Google could be gearing up to launch a DeX competitor with the Pixel 9 series, but nothing is confirmed at this point.  

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For those that are unfamiliar, USB-C ports that support DP Alt Mode can natively support display output via capable USB-C cables or adapters. Pixel phones have had USB-C ports with DP Alt Mode before, but Google only enabled DP Alt Mode at the hardware level this year. Until now, no software support for DP Alt Mode was available on the Pixel 8 series. That meant if you tried to connect a Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro to a monitor, nothing would happen.

A few workarounds were available, such as using Google Cast for wireless mirroring or buying a DisplayLink adapter. DP Alt Mode could be enabled with root access as well. However, this meant Pixels were more limited in display output options than other Android phones and even iPhones.

The addition of native display output support in Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 could mean that it fully debuts this summer with the release of the public update. Or, it's possible that Google could walk back the change before a stable release arrives. It does seem to indicate that Google is working on better display output support, though, which is good news for Pixel owners.

Brady Snyder
Contributor

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.