What you need to know
- Android 14 Beta 3 contains code that suggests you will be able to assign different functions to the buttons on your stylus.
- This feature might become available on the Pixel Tablet, which supports USI 2.0 styluses.
- The potential feature could also let you set a default note-taking app when connecting a stylus to an Android 14-based device.
Google rolled out the third Android 14 beta a few days ago, fixing a ton of bug fixes for Pixel phones. But perhaps the more exciting fix that the platform is likely to finally bring to consumers is richer stylus support, beginning with the Pixel Tablet.
Mishaal Rahman has discovered a new code in Android 14 Beta 3 that hints at a few major improvements to the way the OS handles styluses. The next-generation Android version could improve the users' stylus experience with a few nifty capabilities, including support for multiple buttons on a stylus.
Although the API diff isn't up yet, I spotted new key code constants in the KeyEvent documentation: KEYCODE_STYLUS_BUTTON_PRIMARY, KEYCODE_STYLUS_BUTTON_SECONDARY, KEYCODE_STYLUS_BUTTON_TERTIARY, and KEYCODE_STYLUS_BUTTON_TAIL.Respectively, these refer to the primary button on… pic.twitter.com/OoNPygyAU9June 8, 2023
According to Rahman, Android 14's latest beta suggests that users will have the option to distinguish the functions of those buttons, including the primary, secondary, tertiary, and tail buttons. The tail button typically functions as an eraser, as with many of our favorite E Ink tablets.
However, the new feature that is apparently being considered for Android 14 would allow users to assign certain actions to the tail button on their stylus, such as launching your default note-taking app. This was hinted at by code found by Rahman, who demonstrated that it's possible to change the "default notes app."
This option is visible in the new stylus-specific settings that appear when connecting a stylus to your device on Android 14. Additionally, there's an option to ignore all stylus button presses.
There is speculation that Google may launch this stylus support when the Pixel Tablet hits store shelves in the near future. Although the tablet made its debut without a first-party stylus, it did come with support for the USI 2.0 stylus.
Furthermore, previous rumors claimed that the Pixel Tablet would land with a stylus of its own, though its development has been delayed (via Android Authority), which might explain why the accessory was a no-show at last month's I/O conference. If this is correct, it stands to reason that Google is preparing these improvements before its tablet is released to the public.
With the Pixel Tablet, Google decided to take a different approach. Instead of focusing on productivity, this new device has the potential to transform the way you interact with your smart home, among other things.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.