Instead of the stable release of Android 14 for Pixel phones, as well as the Fold and Tablet, we got a series of Google app updates and updated branding this morning. While unexpected, this isn’t Google’s latest OS release just yet.
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With Beta 5 at the start of last month, Android 14 looked on track for a stable launch as soon as mid-August, which would have mirrored Android 13’s August 15th rollout. At the time, Google said the “official release” was “only weeks away.” Beta 5 was followed by 5.1 and 5.2, with no other release this cycle seeing a second patch. While Beta 5 was the “last scheduled update in our Android 14 beta program,” Google doesn’t consider patches to be scheduled, so there’s nothing unexpected about those bug fixers.
With no launch in August, the next window shifted to September 5th (since the first Monday of the month is a holiday in the US). Considering that window has now also passed, let’s look at the recent history of Android launches:
The latest launch in recent memory is Android 12, which had an AOSP release in early October followed by an October 19 Pixel launch tied to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro announcement. However, in the case of Android 12, the last beta milestone (5) came a month before (in September). Before that, Google has launched in August or September since 2016.
The fact we don’t have a stable yet is complicated by the fact that Android 14 does not seem to be a major release from a visual or new features perceptive. Given the Material You redesign, it made sense why Android 12 took so long.
Android 14’s stage presence during the I/O 2023 keynote in May was unusually limited. We’ve been beta testing lockscreen clock and customization shortcuts for some time now, while generative AI wallpapers hardly seem like a showstopper (and are something I’d expect to debut first on the Pixel 8 anyway before coming to older phones with the December 2023 Feature Drop).
Speaking of Pixel Feature Drops, there clearly wasn’t one today. There also wasn’t one in September of 2021 or 2022, with Google waiting until December both years.
For those waiting, Android 14 Beta 5.2 is quite stable on the Pixel 7 series, Tablet, and Fold. I’ve been using it as my daily driver for several weeks now without issues, thus adding to the intrigue of why it isn’t out yet.
It will be interesting to see whether there will be Android 13 or Android 14 Beta 5.3 with the September security patch at this point. Depending on how many bugs are addressed in the latter, that could signal how far away we are from a stable launch.
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