How to . . . get Android 14 now

But be warned - it may come with a few bugs

The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 14, is still a few weeks away from being publicly available.

The software is nicknamed internally as Upside down Cake - yes Google still does the wacky naming thing - and brings some big updates and a lot of smaller ones too.

Battery life is being improved, as is the overall experience for bigger screen - Android tablet owners will welcome this one - and satellite connectivity. The new software is also boosting security, and offering more nuanced access controls for your photos , for example, rather than forcing you to choose between all and nothing.

Aside from some visual tweaks, you also get customisable lock screens and more flexibility over the text size on the screen.


It is likely that Android 14 will come out generally in August or September. But if you are the type of person that likes getting to test drive new things ahead of time, the Android Beta programme will give you early access.

It is not available to everyone though. You can only sign up if you have certain devices, such as Google’s own Pixel devices - the Pixel 4a 5G and newer - and some third party devices from OnePlus, Lenovo, Oppo, Xiaomi and Realme.

Why you should think twice

While you might like the idea of getting a sneak peek of the new Android software before it goes live, and see all the new features before the general public, there is one very good reason to hold off: bugs.

This is a pre-release programme, which means this isn’t the finalised software. It is currently on its third beta, which usually indicates some sort of stability, but the point is to test-drive features and spot any flaws before the software is rolled out more generally to Android users. That means you could encounter some bugs or problems along the way, so you are taking a chance. One of the bugs could impact your use of the phone, or an app you use regularly may not take too kindly to the updated software.

If you change your mind, you can opt out of the programme. However, you will have to wipe any data saved locally to the phone and Google warns there may be issues restoring data from a back up. Given that, it’s best if you don’t use your main smartphone as a test run - just in case.

Signing up

If all that sounds acceptable to you, here’s how to get the pre-release software today.

To enrol your device, go to the Android Beta programme website and sign in with your Google account. Scroll down to the list of eligible devices linked to your account. If you have one registered - in this case, we used the Pixel 7a - you can select it and enrol the device in the beta programme.

Then you need to go to your chosen smartphone and go to Settings > System > System update. If you don’t see an available update, tap Check for Updates at the bottom of the screen and your beta update will appear, ready to install. The usual rules apply here: you’ll need a certain battery level to install the update, so make sure your device is sufficiently charged and connected to a power supply.

It takes a while to install the software. The update itself is less than 2.4GB but the process can take a while, so this isn’t one to try to when you are in a rush.

Once the software has finished installing, your device will reboot and you can start giving Google your feedback.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist