With the launch of the first beta of Android 15, both developers and early adopters gain access to a suite of improved functionalities and features. Enrolling supported Pixel devices to receive updates for the Android 15 Beta and subsequent feature drops over-the-air allows users to engage directly with the platform’s evolution. Android’s proactive approach in offering these updates seeks to foster a more refined and user-driven development process.

Android 15 targets key enhancements designed to elevate user experience across multiple dimensions—including productivity, privacy, security, and application accessibility. The operating system continues to thrive within a dynamic ecosystem, encompassing a wide array of devices, silicon partners, and carriers. Central to Android’s strategy is the incorporation of user feedback from the beta program, which directs the iterative improvements that characterize each version release.

Developer resources and events

Developers looking to leverage Android 15’s capabilities will find a wealth of resources on the Android 15 developer site. This portal provides essential downloads for Pixel devices and outlines a detailed release timeline, letting developers plan and execute their projects with precision. Moreover, participation in Google I/O offers deeper engagement opportunities. With over 100 sessions ranging from workshops to codelabs and demos, developers can connect with industry leaders, gain insights into future developments, and refine their skills in a collaborative environment. The event can be a nexus for innovation, where the practical applications of Android 15’s features are demonstrated and explored in depth, providing invaluable learning and networking opportunities for all attendees.

New features in Android 15

Android 15 introduces edge-to-edge display as a standard feature for apps targeting the new operating system, eliminating the need for developers to manually enable this aesthetic through specific coding practices. Material 3 design components intelligently manage screen insets, thereby simplifying the development process and making sure that applications can leverage full-screen real estate without additional configuration. This change improves visual engagement and the overall application interface, providing a straightforward experience across different device types.

The beta version of Android 15 focuses on refining the near-field communication (NFC) capabilities to facilitate a more simple and reliable tap-to-pay experience. With the adjustments made in the NFC functionality, Android 15 aims to optimize the interaction between NFC-aware applications, making sure that payment processes are faster and more secure. Such enhancements are part of Android’s ongoing efforts to support and expand its comprehensive NFC app ecosystem, which is critical for the adoption of digital wallet technologies in retail and other consumer spaces.

With the rollout of Android 15, developers now have the option to implement inter-character text justification, a feature that adjusts the spacing between characters for better alignment and readability. This is particularly advantageous for languages such as Chinese and Japanese, which rely on white space for visual clarity and text segmentation. The addition of inter-character justification reflects Android’s commitment to expand upon the global user experience by accommodating the typographic nuances of different languages.

“With the launch of the first beta of Android 15, both developers and early adopters gain access to a suite of improved functionalities and features”

Android 15 further increases the operating system’s capabilities with OS-level support for app archiving. This feature allows users to free up storage by archiving apps that they use infrequently, without permanently deleting them or their data. When an app is archived, its executable and temporary files are removed, but user data remains intact. Users can easily restore these apps via the app store interface, which underscores Android’s focus on user convenience and efficient data management.

The introduction of the ProfilingManager class in Android 15 lets developers gather detailed app-specific performance data such as heap dumps and stack samples. This functionality is instrumental for developers aiming to optimize application performance and resource usage. With Android planning to wrap this feature in a Jetpack API, the process of constructing profiling requests will become even more accessible, helping developers maintain smooth application operations with minimal impact on system resources.

Android 15 marks a significant improvement in accessibility with support for Braille displays that use the Human Interface Device (HID) standard. This standard, commonly utilized for peripherals like mice and keyboards, now extends to Braille displays, facilitating better integration over USB and secure Bluetooth connections. This advancement demonstrates Android’s dedication to inclusivity, so that visually impaired users can interact more effectively with their devices.

“Android 15 targets key enhancements designed to elevate user experience across multiple dimensions”

The new E2eeContactKeysManager API introduced in Android 15 simplifies the management of cryptographic keys necessary for end-to-end encryption in applications. This API integrates with the platform’s contacts application, providing a centralized solution for managing and verifying public keys. Such capabilities are essential for the security of communications within Android applications, reflecting the growing need for comprehensive data protection in mobile communications.

Continuing on from the security initiatives started with Android 10, Android 15 further tightens restrictions on how background applications can interact with the operating system. These measures prevent malicious apps from launching other apps in the foreground without user authorization, thereby mitigating potential security risks. Such ongoing security enhancements are part of Android’s commitment to safeguarding user interactions and enhancing control over app operations on their devices.

App compatibility and testing

Android 15 beta introduces a call to action for developers to commence rigorous testing of their applications against the new operating system environment. As the platform anticipates reaching stability by June 2024, developers receive a substantial window to identify and rectify any compatibility issues. Engaging in this process early is key, as it allows for timely adjustments before the system behaviors and APIs are finalized. Such testing is beneficial and necessary so that applications operate on the new version, thereby maintaining a quality user experience and upholding brand reputation.

Release timeline

Android plans to achieve platform stability for Android 15 by June 2024. This milestone will solidify the final SDK and NDK APIs, along with internal APIs and app-facing system behaviors. Post-reach of this milestone, developers will have several months to conduct final testing. The structured timeline facilitates strategic planning for development teams and provides clear checkpoints for progress assessment, all but guaranteeing readiness for the official release.

For optimal development experience with Android 15, the latest version of Android Studio, specifically the Jellyfish release or later, is recommended. Android Studio, equipped with the newest tools and features, optimizes the development process and helps developers to fully explore and integrate Android 15’s capabilities. Active participation in testing new features and APIs, followed by reporting any issues through the designated feedback channels, contributes significantly to the refinement of the operating system.

Future directions

As Android continues to advance, maintaining a focus on security, privacy, and compatibility across a broad range of devices remains a top priority. Feedback from the ongoing beta testing is indispensable in refining these features, so that the final release meets the high standards expected by users and developers alike. Addressing these areas effectively during the beta phase is fundamental to the successful deployment of Android 15.

Full engagement with the Android 15 beta program is essential for developers. Extensive testing and feedback play a crucial role in shaping the final product, making developer involvement integral to the iterative development process. Such collaboration is instrumental in delivering a stable, efficient, and user-friendly release, so that Android continues to offer a competitive and cutting-edge platform in the mobile operating system market.

Alexander Procter

April 25, 2024

6 Min