Android 14 is now official, but Google is already looking ahead of next year, and that means Android 15. Although it introduced a few new AI-based features, Android 14 turned out to be an incremental update, and it didn't include all the features that Google showed off in early beta builds.
Android 15 needs floating windows
ColorOS and MIUI rolled out floating windows three years ago, and it is a useful utility that lets you maximize screen real estate. Floating windows essentially lets you resize any app so that it fits on the display without taking up its entire width, and it can be overlaid onto another app, making it quite convenient to use. My best use case is launching the calculator in a floating window whenever I need to add up a few things, and it works exceedingly well in this situation.
If Google is looking to add floating windows to Android 15, it should consider looking at ColorOS' implementation and not MIUI. In all its wisdom, Xiaomi thought it best to have floating windows enabled as default, with no way to turn off the feature. This means that whenever you pull down on a notification, it opens in a floating window, and I've had several instances over the years where I inadvertently launched floating windows without meaning to.
Google needs to deliver better icon customization
Google introduced themed icons in Android 12 (albeit in beta), and two years after launch, the feature is still half-baked at best. The problem isn't down to Google, but devs — as this feature isn't mandated, most app makers still choose to ignore it, and it makes the home screen look less cohesive. Even well-known services like Evernote don't offer the feature, and while that's more to do with the state of Evernote, it's annoying to not have all icons utilize the feature.
While Google's at it, if it can roll out the ability to change icon shape and size, that would be fantastic. I'm still annoyed at how little customization is available on a Pixel phone in this particular regard, and really needs to do better.
Google should steal Screen Distance from iOS
Screen Distance is a clever new feature in iOS 17 that utilizes the front camera to determine if you're holding your phone too close to your eyes. The goal here is to reduce eye strain, and if the camera detects that you're using your device closer than 12 inches from your face, it triggers a full-screen alert asking you to move your phone or tablet further away.
This feature proved to be quite useful on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and I found that I had a tendency to hold the phone a little closer at night. Screen Distance is designed to reduce risk of myopia in children, but if you tend to use your phone in bed a lot, it can be quite a handy tool. Google needs to bring a similar utility to Android, and given that it uses the camera to gauge distance, it shouldn't be hard to implement.
Always On Display needs to be better
Google's take on an Always On Display has always been lackluster, and Android 14 doesn't do much to change that. You only get the option to show time and date when choosing an always-on screen, and while you get notification icons at the bottom, there isn't any customization possible.
Other interfaces, meanwhile, offer extensive customizability in this area. I like the range of styles available in ColorOS and the fact that I can design my own pattern that shows up on the lock screen, and while One UI doesn't offer much out of the box, you can always install Good Lock and unlock a slate of customization options.
Give us app cloning already
Most Android brands give you the option to clone an app so you can run two instances of it. This is handy if you've got two SIM cards and want to fully utilize messaging services like WhatsApp or Telegram, but you don't have the ability to do so on a Pixel phone. As it usually does, Google teased this feature in earlier Android 14 beta builds, but it was nowhere to be found in subsequent betas, and is missing on the stable version.
Android 15 will be here before you know it
Google tends to roll out preview builds of Android months ahead of public release, and this is done to make sure devs have plenty of time to get used to the latest features. If history is any indication, the Android 15 dev preview should be available sometime in February 2024, followed by public betas two months later. I'll have much more to talk about Android 15 as soon as it becomes available, but for now, let me know if there are any features you'd like to see in the next iteration of Android.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.