Thursday, June 13, 2024

Google just released the first Android 15 beta. Here’s what’s new

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The Android 15 logo on a smartphone.Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Google has just released the first public beta build of Android 15, marking an end to the developer-focused test phase. The beta version’s release also means that Android 15 is finally in a state where it can be tried by the masses without people having to worry about too many bugs leaving their phone in a sorry state.

The first beta version of Android 15 doesn’t introduce a ton of new features, as most of the notable additions have already appeared in the Developer Preview builds. Google’s blog post, however, mentions the following features as the key highlights

OS-level support for app archiving: This means you can now safely archive an app that’s no longer in active use from within the Settings app. In doing so, a significant portion of the storage space occupied by the app is freed while retaining only a few crucial files. The next time you need to use the app, simply select Restore to bring it back instead of going to the Play Store and downloading it once again.
Improved communication: With the first beta build of Android 15, Google adds support for Braille devices over wired and wireless connections for users with vision challenges.
Encrypted contacts: The latest update adds a new feature that protects contact information stored on your phone behind a layer of end-to-end encryption. This safety system will be baked at the OS level.

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If you are interested in the more meaningful additions, there are many in Android 15. For example, there’s a neat cooldown system that gradually silences the barrage of notifications coming from a single app.

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Then there’s the neat partial screen-sharing feature that only records activity within a single selected app. Whatever else that you do during a screen capture does not appear in the final video.

Bluetooth controls are more streamlined and easier to access, especially if you have multiple devices connected to your phone. For folks condemned to daily video calls and bad webcams, a new HD preset has arrived that allows your phone to double as a high-resolution meeting camera for your PC.

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The horribly feature-deprived PDF handling experience is finally improving with Android 15, while the Do Not Disturb Mode is adding more flexibility. Some performance improvements are also on the horizon, and the small cover screen on flip-style foldable phones will land support for more app activities at last. No more hacks are required, but you still won’t be able to run Call of Duty Mobile on the cover screen natively. Not that it’s a good experience — I’m just saying it’s possible and you should totally attempt it once in your lifetime to feel like a digital renegade.

Google still plans on releasing three additional beta updates between now and July, with the final Android 15 release scheduled for sometime after that.

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