Judging by the latest leaks, the Google Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet are both around the corner. In line with that, Google seems to be preparing more features and information in Android 14 that look perfect for the upcoming Pixel foldable and tablet.
About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an app that Google has uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we can see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We will try to enable the ones that are closer to completion, however show you what they will look like in the event that they ship. With that in mind, read on.
Suffice to say, the Google Pixel Fold has been a long time in the works, and the device has seen many delays and cancellations over the years. At that time, Google was constantly working on software to support the (various generations of) Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet, as well as large screen devices from other companies.
While much of this work first appeared 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 just the second preview of Android 14, our team found a handful. of improvements and features that look best for the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet, as well as the Pixel Fold itself.
Especially, with Android 13 QPR3 released in June, it’s hard to be sure if these features are specific to Android 14 or might arrive as part of the June Pixel Feature Drop.
Desktop mode improvements
During the Android 13 QPR2 Beta, we were able to show a major shake-up to “desktop mode”, a feature that Google has been toying with on the platform for a long time. Desktop mode in Android basically takes all your apps and puts them inside free-form windows that can be dragged, managed and resized.
In that previous beta, we saw the addition of a new pill-shaped control bar at the top of each app. This bar has been updated again and can now be expanded to reveal many of the same controls normally shown in the Recent Apps view. For example, there are options to “Screenshot”, “Select” and “Close” an application window, along with quick shortcuts to change window size and placement.
The design definitely feels modern and maybe even “Pixel-y,” but so far nothing has directly tied the feature to the upcoming Pixel Tablet or Fold. Of the two, the Pixel Tablet would certainly benefit the most from desktop mode, especially in combination with a keyboard accessory.
Pixel Fold Face Unlock details
Elsewhere in Pixel Fold tidbits, Android explorer Cuban Wojciechowski spotted new text that appears to offer new information about how Face Unlock will work on the Pixel Fold. Specifically, it is clarified that Face Unlock will only be able to work when the device is folded.
Face Unlock only works from the external screen
As Wojciechowski explains, the reason for this is that the Pixel Fold’s internal selfie camera (IMX355) does not use a dual-pixel sensor, a key technology behind Face Unlock on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
That being the case, to quickly unlock the Pixel Fold when unfolded, you’ll need to use the side-mounted fingerprint sensor or Watch Unlock – if that ever launches.
One feature of the Pixel Tablet that we’ve been tracking closely is the ability to quickly take notes with the stylus. By pressing a button on the stylus, a notes app – which we assume is Google Keep Notes, but this has not been confirmed – will pop up in an on-screen bubble where you can quickly jot something down.
As part of the Android 14 Developer Preview, Google has updated some very public developer documents to explain some of the new APIs. One such example is “ACTION_CREATE_NOTE”, which Google explains is used to quickly start note-taking. More importantly, it is noted that this action can also be performed “on the lock screen”, and that the developers of the program must take the appropriate precautions to protect sensitive data.
Starts note-taking, which can be used to create a note. This action can be used to initiate an action on the lock screen. Activity should ensure proper handling of privacy sensitive data and functions when launched on the lock screen.
In practice, we believe this should work much like the Google Camera app’s ability to take new photos without unlocking the phone. In that example, Google Camera even allows you to view and delete recently taken photos, but only those that were taken while the screen was locked. All older photos are protected from view. By that logic, the Pixel Tablet should let you take new notes directly from the lock screen, but viewing any older notes will require you to unlock first.
Finally, Android 14 DP2 also introduces a flag for a new feature called “dual_shade”. Unfortunately, the code for the feature isn’t included yet, but the “shadow” name seems to suggest that we’re looking at a new change for the notification shade.
On tablets and foldables today, there’s a single, massive pull-down shade that has notifications on the right and quick settings on the left. This design can be seen in our previous preview of the Pixel Tablet software, around the 0:43 mark.
We can only speculate at this point, but it’s possible that the new “dual_shade” feature may separate notifications and quick settings into two different shades, depending on where you swipe. This would be similar to how iOS will show either the Control Center or Notification Center depending on which side of the screen you swiped.
Thanks to JEB Decompiler, which some APK Insight teardowns benefit from.
Dylan Roussel contributed to this article.
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