March 24, 2023

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Android 14 DP2 brings new features perfect for your Pixel Fold & Tablet

Judging by the latest leaks, both the Google Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet are very close. Matching that, Google seems to be preparing more features and tidbits in Android 14 that seem perfect for the upcoming Pixel foldable and tablet.

About APK Insight: In this APK Insight post, we have decompiled the latest version of an app Google has uploaded on the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APK files, in the case of Android apps), we can see different lines of code within that hint at potential future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ship these features at all, and our interpretation of what they are may be incomplete. We’ll try to enable those who are about to expire, however, to show how they’ll look if they ship. With that in mind, read on.

Suffice it to say that the Google Pixel Fold has been a long time in the making, as the device has seen many delays and cancellations over the years. At the time, Google was steadily working on software to support (various generations) of the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet, as well as large-screen devices from other companies.

While a lot of this work debuted with the big-screen-focused release of Android 12L, the experience for foldables and tablets has continued to improve with Android 13 and now Android 14. In the second Android 14 preview alone, our team found a few improvements and features that looked Basics for the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet, plus information on the Pixel Fold itself.

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Notably, with Android 13 QPR3 launching in June, it is hard to ascertain if these features are specific to Android 14 or if they might arrive as part of the June Pixel Feature Drop.

Desktop mode improvements

During the Android 13 QPR2 beta, we were able to view a major change to Desktop Mode, a feature Google has long been toying with on the platform. Android desktop mode basically takes all of your apps and puts them inside free-form windows that can be dragged, rotated, and resized.

In the previous beta, we saw the addition of a new pill-shaped control bar at the top of every app. This ribbon has been updated again and can now be expanded to reveal many of the same controls that normally appear in the Recent Apps view. For example, there are options to “screenshot,” “select,” and “close” an application window, as well as quick shortcuts to change the window’s size and position.

The design definitely looks modern and maybe even “Pixel-y,” but so far nothing has directly linked the feature to the Pixel Tablet or Fold. Of the two, the Pixel Tablet would definitely benefit the most from a desktop mode, especially with a keyboard accessory.

Pixel Fold Face Unlock details

Elsewhere in the Pixel Fold tales is an Android researcher Kuba Wojciechowski I spotted a new piece of text that appears to provide new information on how Face Unlock works on the Pixel Fold. Specifically, it was made clear that Face Unlock will only be able to work when the device is folded.

Face unlock only works from the external display

As Wojciechowski explains, the reason for this is that the Pixel Fold’s internal selfie camera (IMX355) doesn’t use a Dual Pixel sensor, which is the core technology behind Face Unlock on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.

In this case, to quickly unlock the Pixel Fold when you open it, you’ll need to use the side-mounted fingerprint sensor or Watch Unlock — if that’s turned on at all.

Lockscreen notes

One Pixel Tablet feature we’ve been tracking closely is the ability to quickly take notes with a stylus. By pressing a button on the pen, the Notes app — which we assume is Google Keep Notes, but this hasn’t been confirmed — will pop up in an onscreen bubble where you can quickly jot something down.

As part of the Android 14 Developer Preview, Google has updated some public developer documents to explain some of the new APIs. One example of this is “ACTION_CREATE_NOTE, which Google explains is used to quickly launch a note-taking app. More importantly, it was noted that this action could also be taken “on the lock screen”, and that app developers should take appropriate precautions to protect sensitive data.

It starts a note-taking activity that can be used to create a note. This action can be used to launch an activity on the lock screen. The activity must ensure that privacy-sensitive data and features are appropriately handled when running on the lock screen.

In practice, we think this should work a lot like the Google Camera app’s ability to take new photos without unlocking the phone. In this example, Google Camera allows you to view and delete recently taken photos, but only those taken while the screen is locked. Any old photos are protected from view. By that logic, the Pixel Tablet should let you take new notes right from the lock screen, but viewing any old notes will require you to unlock first.

“double shadow”

Finally, Android 14 DP2 also introduces a flag for a new feature called “dual_shade”. Unfortunately, the icon for the feature isn’t included yet, but the name “Shadow” seems to indicate that we’re looking at a new change to the notification shade.

On today’s tablets and flips, there’s one large pull-down shade, which features notifications on the right side and quick settings on the left. This design can be seen in the previous preview of the Pixel Tablet software, at approximately the 0:43 mark.

We can only speculate at this point, but it’s possible that the new “dual_shade” feature will separate notifications and quick settings into two different colors, depending on where you swipe. This will be similar to how iOS shows either the Control Center or the Notification Center depending on which side of the screen you swipe.

thanks for the JEB Decompilerwhich some APK Insight disassemblies take advantage of.

Dylan Russell Contribute to this article.

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