Everything Exciting About the Android 15 Beta So Far

Image: Google
Image: Google

In the past, every new version of Android felt like a special occasion for the platform’s devoted users. It meant new software features, better algorithms, improved user interfaces, and maybe even something fun.

However, we’re still waiting for the release of Android 15, which is now in its second public beta. The beta does offer a glimpse into what’s next but not the whole picture. Most of the tweaks are still being made behind the scenes. And let’s not forget that a beta is never the final rendering of the software update. It often goes through a few iterations before it’s ready for public consumption.

Android 15 won’t be here for a while. At the very least, we have more time to tinker with the second developer preview. If you’re one of those devoted fans, you can download the beta now and see what’s cooking. It’s also been opened to more devices, so you’re not limited to the Pixel for a preview. Do not install a beta on your device every day. But do read about what’s coming in Android 15.

Updated 5/21/2024 to include new features from the second public Android 15 beta.

New Volume panel

Screenshot: <a class="link " href="https://www.androidauthority.com/android-15-volume-panel-3429806/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas">Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority </a>

It’s a minor change but a welcome one. Android 15's new volume panel will be expandable and feature visually stunning controls rather than a boring slider panel. The snapshot above from noted leaker Mishaal Rahman shows Material stylings for the volume controls. I haven’t been able to surface this look on the Pixel 6 Pro running the Android 15 beta.

Partial screen sharing

Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Partial screen sharing will keep you from accidentally spilling your secrets. The feature allows you to record only the app window rather than the entire device screen, so your notifications don’t pop in and out.

Notification cooldown

Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Is someone blowing up your notifications? Maybe it’s a game you play a ton. Android 15 will help chill them out. Notification cooldown will automatically lower the volume of consecutive notifications from the same app, so you’ll not constantly get an overlay ping while trying to use your device. The current public beta may not offer access to this feature yet.

Sensitive notifications

Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I still rely on the Android Messages app to use two-factor authentication and log in to specific accounts. The final version of Android 15 will hopefully include the ability to hide the 2FA requests. The ability won’t physically hide the notification from popping up with the pin code reveal, but it will lock down the message so that other apps on Android can’t read the numbers and log in as you.

Use your phone as a webcam

Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Here is one Android 15 beta feature that you can try now! Connect a Pixel device to your computer via USB-C. The USB Preferences dialog will appear in the Notifications shade. Tap on it, then select the option to use your Pixel as a webcam. Launch the capture app on your computer, and you should be able to choose the device as camera hardware.

Private space

Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

You’ve heard of Google Photos’ Locked folder, but how about an entire “private space” in the Android 15 Beta? This feature will allow you to hide apps on your phone so that they don’t surface unless you know how to fetch them.

Yes, this will likely be used to hide messaging apps and the conversations within those apps. You can set it up in the second public Android 15 beta.

Satellite connectivity, probably

<strong>A preview of what Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite would have worked like in the wild.</strong> - Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
A preview of what Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite would have worked like in the wild. - Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Satellite messaging is coming in some form or another. There have been leaks, primarily related to the Google Pixel 9 hardware, but enough that it seems the feature is coming to the entire platform. There’s nothing you can paw at yet in this current public beta.

Multi-stream audio sharing

Screenshot: <a class="link " href="https://9to5google.com/2024/03/21/android-15-dp2-audio-sharing/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:9to5Google;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas">9to5Google</a>
Screenshot: 9to5Google

The frustration with public betas is that they often hide the features that surfaced during the developer preview builds. Before Android gets packaged for the faithful masses to try on their Pixel devices, two developer previews precede the beta version that’s out now.

The first public Android 15 developer preview showed evidence of an “audio sharing” feature buried in the Connected Devices menu. The general assumption is that this will likely be the user-facing way to broadcast your audio to nearby friends with compatible devices. This might also be how Android 15 does Auracast.

Edge-to-Edge apps

Image: Google
Image: Google

Edge-to-edge apps are such a big deal that there’s a whole section about them on the Android Developers Blog. On the backend, this will make it easier for developers to get their apps looking snatched, especially on large-screen devices. The trade-off is a more visually pleasing interface without the black bars for the navigation bar and notification shade.

One Health Connect to Rule Them All™️

Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I’m adding a slide for Health Connect because I intend to understand how it will improve once I update to Android 15. Google has been working on migrating from the Google Fit APIs to Android Health, which makes me hopeful for easier cross-app syncing.

Right now, Health Connect is a bit of a mess. I can sync all data with Google Fit, but I’m still confused about how every other third party shares data with one another. I currently use another third-party app to sync health and wellness data everywhere. There are also still limitations between third parties regarding what data can be swapped. The changes to Health Connect in Android 15 should help apps like Samsung Health and Fitbit play better with others. We shall see.

Better multitasking for more screen sizes

Image: Google
Image: Google

I don’t currently have any tablet devices with the Android 15 beta loaded, but the next operating system version promises more malleability with differently sized screens. Better multitasking for various screen sizes is a nice addition to the edge-to-edge formatting mentioned in an earlier slide.

Predictive back

Screenshot: Google
Screenshot: Google

Initially spotted in the Android 14 beta, Predictive Back shows a preview of the last screen the OS recalls. It’s only enabled when Gestures are on, which is a bummer because my elder millennial self has yet to graduate from the long-existing navigation bar.

An easier way to add widgets

Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Yes, it’s a minor change, but longtime Android operating system users may appreciate the simplicity added to this already simple mechanism. Now, instead of dragging a widget from the preview screen onto the Home screen, you can tap a button to add it instead and then scale and move around as you please.

Adaptive vibrations

Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Android 15 introduces a new Adaptive Vibration feature only available in the public beta for Pixel devices. The feature utilizes the phone’s microphone and other sensors—the rest of which aren’t specified—to adjust the intensity of vibrations based on the environment.

Google Cast is coming back

Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I miss some of the multi-room casting capabilities of my Google-based smart home. Google had to remove the ability to control volume on multiple devices simultaneously as the patent allowance with Sonos was worked out in court. But in Android 15, it’s back!

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