The first Android 15 public beta is out – here’s how to download it

The first public beta for Android 15 is officially here after months of waiting. A Google representative told us several refinements were made as the team took the feedback they received from the two developer previews. Keep in mind this is far from the final version of the system. Most of the rumored features, like the lock screen widgets or Private Space, are not here. The beta focuses primarily on the upcoming UI changes and security updates for Android 15.

Moving forward, apps on the OS will be displayed “edge-to-edge by default”. Edge-to-edge allows apps to cover an entire screen rather than leaving spaces at the top or bottom. Android 15 also introduces end-to-end encryption to the contacts app to help users “securely manage and verify other people’s contact information.” 

App archiving is the only rumored feature making an appearance in the beta. According to the company, it will let you uninstall cached files for an app while letting you keep important user data.

There’s more in the overall package, but those are the main stars. To try out Android 15 yourself, be sure to follow the set of instructions we’ve laid out below. Be aware the beta is only available on a handful of smartphones. 

Quick steps to download the Android 15 Beta

  • Check that you own an eligible Pixel model
  • Enroll your device into the Android 15 Beta Program on the Android Beta website
  • Check for any new updates and download the file

Tools & Requirements

  • An eligible Google Pixel device
  • An internet connection
  • A few minutes of your time

How to install the Android 15 beta on your Pixel device

1. Check that you own an eligible Pixel model

Not every Android phone or tablet can install Android 15 because Google has restricted access to the OS to first-party hardware. Eligible devices include the Pixel 5a, 6, 6 Pro, 6a, 7, 7 Pro, 7a, 8, 8 Pro, and the Pixel Tablet and the Pixel Fold. Older Pixel models cannot receive the update.

It’s unknown if or when other Android manufacturers will offer access to the platform. You’ll probably have to wait for the official launch to get your hands on the beta.

2. Enroll your device into the Android 15 Beta Program

Head on over to Google’s Android Beta website using the account currently signed into your eligible Pixel phone or Tablet. Scroll down to the “Your Eligible Devices” section near the bottom of the page. Select your model, then follow the on-screen directions to obtain the update.

3. Check for any updates and then install.

Launch the Settings app on your Pixel device. Go to the System section, then to System Update. You’ll be met with a warning telling you about the potential bugs you might encounter. Acknowledge the risks and accept the download. Give your phone or Pixel Tablet enough time to install the package. Once done, restart the hardware to finish installing the Android 15 beta.

Since it's in the early stages, Android 15 will be unstable. There’s a good chance you’ll run into some weird glitch or the whole thing will crash. We don’t recommend installing the beta at this time due to possible performance issues. Plus, a lot of the major features, like the aforementioned lock screen widgets, aren't even there. The beta needs more time in the oven.

A stable version of the Android 15 is scheduled to come out later this June ahead of its late summer/early autumn release. If you decide to install the beta anyway, Google asks that you provide feedback so they can continue making improvements. Instructions for delivering that feedback can be found on the Android Developer website

While we have you check out TechRadar's list of the best Pixel phones for 2024 if you're looking to upgrade.

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Google Search on Android might get a nifty Gemini switch and put AI at your fingertips

Gemini is lining up to become an even bigger part of the Android ecosystem as a toggle switch for the AI may soon appear on the official Google app. Evidence of this update was discovered in a recent beta by industry insider AssembleDebug who then shared his findings with news site Pianika Web

The feature could appear as a toggle switch right above the search bar. Flipping the switch causes the standard Search interface to morph into the Gemini interface where you can enter a prompt, talk to the model, or upload an image. According to Android Authority, turning on the AI launches a window asking permission to make the switch, assuming you haven't already. 

If this sounds familiar, that’s because the Google app on iOS has had the same function since early February. Activating the feature on either operating system has Gemini replace Google Assistant as your go-to helper on the internet. 

Gemini's new role

You can hop between the two at any time. It’s not a permanent fixture or anything – at least not right now. Google has been making its AI more prominent on smartphones and its first-party platforms. Recently, hints emerged of Gemini possibly gaining a summarization tool as well as reply suggestions on Gmail.

It is possible to have the Gemini toggle switch appear on your Android phone. AssembleDebug published a step-by-step guide on TheSpAndroid, however, the process will take you a long time. First, you’ll need a rooted smartphone running at least Android 12 which is a complicated process in of itself. We have a guide explaining how to root your mobile device if you're interested in checking that out. Then you’ll need the latest Google App beta from the Play Store, the GMS Flags app from GitHub, and Gemini on your device.

Even if you follow all of these instructions, there’s still a chance it may not work, so you’re probably better off waiting for the switch to officially roll out. 

No word on when that’ll happen. Although we could see the feature make its official debut during next month’s Google I/O 2024 event. The tech giant is cooking up something big and we can’t wait to see what it is. 

While you wait, check out TechRadar's list of the best Android phones for 2024.

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Android 15’s new Bluetooth tool may alter the way users interact with their phone

Recent Android 14 betas have been a treasure trove of information about possible features coming to Android 15. We learned not too long ago that the operating system may introduce Private Space for securing sensitive information on a smartphone. Now new details are emerging on future changes that could alter how users interact with their mobile devices.

News site Android Authority unearthed these details inside the Android 14 QPR2 patch from early March. Several lines of code reference something called “Bluetooth Auto-On”. According to the publication, it will automatically activate Bluetooth connectivity if it’s turned off. They state that if someone turns it off, a toggle option will appear to give the phone the ability to turn on Bluetooth the following day. Android 15 reportedly will include text reminding users that enabling the connection is important for certain features; namely Quick Share and Find My Device.

Of course, this is all optional. You’ll still be able to deactivate Bluetooth any time you want for as long as you want without having to toggle anything. 

Insight into Bluetooth Auto-On doesn’t stop there as more information was dug up from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) by industry insider Mishaal Rahman. Rahman states only system apps work with the tool. It’s not going to be compatible with third-party software. Also, it may not be exclusive to Android 15. There’s a chance the update could come to older OS versions; however, it won’t work on all devices.

Adapative screens

The second feature is “Adaptive Timeout” which was discovered within a developer preview for Android 15. Very little is known as the lines of code don’t reveal much.

But they do say it will automatically turn off your “screen early if you’re not using your device.” On the surface, this may seem like Screen Timeout although Rahman states it’s something totally different. Judging by its description, it operates similarly to Attention Aware on iPhone

Adaptive Timeout would utilize some sort of metric, either by detecting your face through the camera or taking collecting input through sensors, to know if you’re directly interacting with the smartphone. If you stop using the device, the feature will turn off the display. Screen Timeout, by comparison, is just a timer. The screen will stay on until the timer runs out even if you’re not interacting with the phone. An argument could also be made that, due to its proactive nature, the tool can extend a device's battery life and protect your data from prying eyes. 

What's interesting about Adaptive Timeout is it may be an exclusive update for Google Pixel. Rahman says he found evidence of the tool referencing a Google namespace, suggesting it won’t be available on the “open-source version of Android”.

As always, take everything you see here with a grain of salt. Things can always change. And be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best Android phones if you're looking to upgrade.  

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New Android 15 feature could turn your smartphone into a desktop computer

Did you know that Android OS has had a desktop mode similar to Samsung Dex for the past five years or so? It’s true. The mode first came out back in 2019 on Android 10.  It allowed you to connect your smartphone to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard setup turning it into a mini-desktop. No one can blame you for not knowing it existed in the first place. It was primarily meant for developers to use as a testing ground for their apps. It was as barebones as a system can be. However, recent evidence suggests Google is expanding the feature to be more friendly for the everyday user.

News site Android Authority dove into the Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2.1 update and with some technical know-how, activated desktop mode “to see how the… system has evolved.” As it turns out, it’s advanced quite a bit since 2019. 

Their demo video shows windows can now be dragged around and resized on the screen. Resizing causes the page to go blank save for the app’s logo in the center. 

Moving a window over to either side causes it to snap into place. They then opened another app, clicking into place on the other side letting them have two pages side-by-side similar to Windows 11. Grabbing a full-screened page by dragging the top handle causes it to shrink, letting users make quick adjustments.

At the top of every full-screen is a small menu. Android Authority states it “contains the app’s name, icon, and three buttons to switch between full-screen, split-screen, and freeform mode. That last option lets you drag the window around. While the app is in freeform, apps gain a URL bar, a dropdown menu for altering the viewing mode, plus maximize and close buttons. 

Basic, yet important

This may seem like basic functionalities that all web browsers come with. Well, that’s because they are. Earlier when we said desktop mode is as barebones as a system can be, we meant it. The thing to keep in mind is this update signifies a continued effort to improve this feature. We could see where Android smartphones can turn into capable computers that are more portable than laptops. Technically, they already are, but they're missing the necessary support.

There is still a lot of work to be done, as the publication points out. Most apps, for instance, “don’t support drag-and-drop”. A few keyboard shortcuts are apparently present, but the report doesn’t go into detail.

No word on when the revamped mode will launch. Considering it’s part of a late beta, we could see the feature arrive on Android 15 which is scheduled to come out somewhere between August and October. 

Take this information with a grain of salt. After all, Google could suddenly change its mind and kill the project. Something similar happened recently with the WSA (Windows Subsystem for Android) app on Windows 11. It gives users a way to run Android software natively on the Windows operating system, however, starting on March 5, 2025, support is going cut off.

While we have you, be sure to check out TechRadar's roundup of the best Android phones for 2024.

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Google Gemini AI looks like it’s coming to Android tablets and could coexist with Google Assistant (for now)

Google’s new generative AI model, Gemini, is coming to Android tablets. Gemini AI has been observed running on a Google Pixel Tablet, confirming that Gemini can exist on a device alongside Google Assistant… for the time being, at least. Currently, Google Gemini is available to run on Android phones, and it’s expected that it will eventually replace Google Assistant, Google’s current virtual assistant that’s used for voice commands.

When Gemini is installed on Android phones, users would be prompted to choose between using Gemini and Google Assistant. It’s unknown if this restriction will apply to tablets when Gemini finally arrives for them – though at the moment it appears not. 

Man sitting at a table working on a laptop

(Image credit: Shutterstock/GaudiLab)

A discovery in Google Search's code

The news was brought to us via 9to5Google, which did an in-depth report on the latest beta version (15.12) of the Google Search app in the Google Play Store and discovered it contains code referring to using Gemini AI on a “tablet,” and would offer the following features: 

The code also shows that the Google app will host Gemini AI on tablets, instead of a standalone app that currently exists for Android phones. Google might be planning on a separate Gemini app for tablets and possibly other devices, especially if its plans to phase out Google Assistant are still in place. 

9to5Google also warns that this is still as it’s still a beta version of the Google Search app, Google can still change its mind and not roll out these features.

A woman using an Android phone.

(Image credit: Shutterstock/brizmaker)

Where does Google Assistant stand?

When 9to5Google activated Gemini on a Pixel Tablet, it found that Google Assistant and Gemini would function simultaneously. Gemini for Android tablets is yet to be finalized, so Google might implement a similar restriction that prevents both Gemini and Google Assistant running at the same time on tablets. When both were installed and activated, and the voice command “Hey Google” was used, Google Assistant was brought up instead of Gemini.

This in turn contradicted screenshots of the setup screen showing that Gemini will take precedence over Google Assistant if users choose to use it.

The two digital assistants don’t have the same features yet and we know that the Pixel Tablet was designed to act as a smart display that uses Google Assistant when docked. Because Google Assistant will be used when someone asks Gemini to do something it’s unable to do, we may see the two assistants running in parallel for the time being, until Gemini has all of Google Assistant's capabilities, such as smart home features. 

Meanwhile, Android Authority reports that the Gemini experience on the Pixel Tablet is akin to the Pixel Fold and predicts that Google’s tablets will be the first Android to gain Gemini capabilities. This makes sense, as Google may want to use Gemini exclusivity to encourage more people to buy Pixel tablets in the future. The Android tablet market is a highly competitive one, and advanced AI capabilities may help Pixel tablets stand out.


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Windows 11 users can now try a new feature that uses an Android phone as a webcam – here’s how

Windows 11 users will soon be able to use their Android phones as webcams for video calls, an exciting development for people who don’t want to spend money on a webcam or work on the go and need one in a pinch. 

Earlier this month we reported on the feature being available to just a few select groups (referred to as ‘channels’) in the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft’s community for Windows enthusiasts who want to get early access to potential new features and Windows versions. The feature has had an expanded rollout to all Insider Channels, making it much easier to try it out for yourself. 

Members of the Windows Insider Program can give feedback ahead of a more widespread rollout. So, the fact that Microsoft is opening this feature up to more channels in the program suggests that it’s already taken feedback and improved upon the feature enough to allow more people to give it a try. 

Normally, a new feature being released across all Insider channels strongly suggests that we may see an imminent public release, which is an exciting development for those of us who have been waiting for the feature to drop. 

 Give it a go!  

If you’re not already in the Windows Insider Program, you’ll have to sign up first. It’s free to join, and all you have to do is make sure you’ll be using it on a PC that’s running Windows 10 or Windows 11. 

Once you’ve signed up you’ll need to install the latest preview build, and then make sure your phone is set up and ready to go. Your phone should be running Android 9.0 or later, with the Link to Windows app installed.

Before you can get video calling, you’ll need to quickly hop into your settings and make sure your phone is set as the desired streaming device. This means you’ll need to go to:

Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mobile devices

From there hit the ‘Manage Devices’ options and link your Android phone to your PC. You’ll be prompted to download a Cross-Device Experience Host update from the Microsoft Store and you should be ready to go!

Overall this feature should be very useful in the long term, whether you have one of the best webcams on the market or not. When I’m working on the commute or hot-desking it can be such a hassle to find an external webcam and carry it around with me – or having to resort to using the built-in webcam of a laptop, which sometimes isn’t very good quality, especially on older devices. The alternative is just using your phone to join meetings, which is fine, but does mean you have a rather small screen to look at. Of course, sometimes you just want to pick the camera up to show your team something cute your cat is doing, and this feature will be perfect for that as well.

Via MSPowerUser

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Google could allow Android users to download up to five apps at once

Google is reportedly giving Parallel Downloading another shot after the feature reemerged in a recent Play Store update.

If you’re not familiar with it, parallel downloading would give Android users the ability to install multiple apps at the same time. The tech first appeared about four years ago when a Reddit user noticed they were able to download Chrome, Google Photos, and YouTube onto their mobile device simultaneously. Since then, it seemingly faded into obscurity until it was discovered by industry expert Assemble Debug after diving into the files of Google Play version 40.0.13. 

Parallel Downloading on Google Play Store

(Image credit: Assemble Debug/TheSpAndroid)

Current limitations

He was surprised to see that it was fully functioning. Screenshots on TheSpAndroid blog reveal Assemble Debug could download Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Acrobat without issue. At a glance, the process works similarly to single-app installations. The time it’ll take to get a piece of software on your phone depends on its file size.

As he investigated further, Assemble Debug found the feature was held back by a few limitations. First, parallel downloading does not work for updates. If you want to download patches for multiple apps, you’ll have to do it individually. Nothing is changing on that front. 

Second, Google is restricting the amount of simultaneous installations to just two apps. Assemble Debug points out that the restriction is controlled by an internal flag. He deactivated the flag and was able to increase the download limit to “five apps at once.” 

It's possible Google may alter the maximum amount of installs at any time, but they’re keeping things small for now. There could be an increase in a future testing period.

Joining the early test

For those interested, it is possible to activate parallel downloading on your device by grabbing the latest Play Store patch; however, the process is tricky. TheSpAndroid states you’ll need a rooted Android smartphone. Rooting isn’t super difficult to do, but it does take a while to accomplish and you run the risk of totally bricking the hardware. If you want to learn how to do this, we have a guide with step-by-step instructions on how to root your Android phone.

Once that’s all done, you’ll have to enable a certain flag via the GMS Flags app which you can find over on GitHub. Details on how to do this can be found in TheSpAndroid’s report.

It’s unknown when this feature will officially launch. Considering the company is experimenting with Parallel Downloads again after so long, it could be hinting at an imminent release. Hopefully, this is the case. Being able to install apps in bulk is a nice quality-of-life upgrade. It can help new phone owners save a lot of time when setting up their devices.

Speaking of which, check out TechRadar's list of the best Android phones for 2024 if you're looking to upgrade.

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Microsoft is axing support for Android apps, leaving users to search for other solutions

Another week, another Microsoft feature bites the dust – support for Android apps and games in Windows is getting the chop. Starting next year, users will need a third-party alternative solution to run Android apps in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

This is because the official Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) app, an official Microsoft app that enables Windows 11 to run Android applications natively, will no longer be supported and Windows users won’t be able to access the Amazon Appstore directly on Windows. Support for WSA is slated to end this time next year on March 5, 2025. 

This news appeared in a notice added to the technical documentation for Windows Subsystem for Android. In this notice, Microsoft states that users can expect to access any Android apps they have installed this way (and from the Amazon Appstore) up until the date support is fully deprecated.

According to Android Authority, after March 5, 2025, users will not be able to access any Android apps that rely on WSA. It also seems reasonable to assume that after this date, users won’t be able to install the WSA app, or install any new Android apps from the Amazon store. 

Man using download manager on laptop

(Image credit: Unsplash)

The impending reality for Android app fans

If you want to use an app that’s not on track to be deprecated or are looking for a replacement when March 5, 2025 rolls around, you can turn to unofficial third-party apps that will enable you to run Android apps on Windows.

If it’s just games for Android that you’re interested in, there is an official solution on offer from Google, Google Play Games, which makes hundreds of Android games able to be played on PCs running Windows 10 and Windows 11. Google Play Games is still in beta, but you can download it from the official website.

The death of WSA is very disappointing news from Microsoft and takes away options for how users can use their PCs, possibly a move made in the name of capping the visibility of competitors within Microsoft’s flagship operating system. This is purely in Microsoft’s interest and comes at the detriment of users’ choice, and will force users who want to run Android apps to find workarounds. One of the main appeals of Windows against competitors like ChromeOS and macOS is the flexibility and customizability of the operating system, and moves like this only serve to kneecap that selling point.

I assume Microsoft hopes this might drive these users to the Microsoft Store and consider getting Microsoft-issued apps instead, but the offerings of the Microsoft Store are something lacking. I hope that Microsoft has substantial plans to improve the Microsoft Store if it’s going to take away what was largely seen as a stable (and more or less straightforward) platform that expanded the apps available to users by a sizeable amount. 


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Say cheese! You’ll soon be able to turn your Android phone into a wireless PC webcam in Windows 11

If you’re a Windows 11 user on a PC, you’ll soon be able to use your Android smartphone (or tablet) as a webcam. This feature is currently being made available to Windows Insiders, Microsoft’s official community for professionals and Windows enthusiasts who would like early access to new Windows versions and features to test and offer feedback ahead of a wider rollout. 

In an official Windows Insider Blog post, Microsoft explains that it’s begun a gradual rollout of the feature that enables users who have a suitable Android device, such as a tablet or phone, to act as a webcam while using any application that involves video webcam functions on their PCs. If you’d like to try this new feature or get access to whatever else Microsoft has up its sleeve that it would like users to test, it’s free to sign up for the Windows Insider Program – you just have to make sure you have a suitable PC that can run Windows 10 or Windows 11. 

Once you install the latest preview build, you’ll also have to ensure that the mobile device you want to use as a webcam is running Android 9.0 or later. You also have to install the Link to Windows app on your mobile device. 

This is really good news for users who don’t have a dedicated webcam or are unhappy with the quality of the built-in webcam of their laptop. Many modern smartphones come with cameras that can offer better quality than a lot of webcams – and this feature allows them to be used wirelessly, which makes them far more convenient as well. On top of being able to function as your webcam, you can also switch between the front and back cameras of your phone, pause your webcam stream, and activate your mobile device’s available camera effects.

Group of cheerful friends teenagers spending fun time together outdoors, looking at phone

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Dean Drobot)

How to set up your Android phone as your webcam

Once you’ve made sure you have all the necessary specifications, updates, and apps, you’ll need to set the feature up on the device you’d like to stream to. You can do this by navigating to the following settings in Windows 11:

Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mobile devices

Select “Manage devices” and turn on the setting that allows the Android mobile device that you’d like to use as a webcam to be accessed by your PC. This will then prompt your PC to receive a Cross Device Experience Host update via the Microsoft Store which you should allow, as this is necessary to facilitate the feature. 

It will likely prove to be very useful, offering users more versatility and options for appearing in video calls. With many of us now working from home, either full-time or as part of a hybrid working week, picking the best webcam for your needs is now more important than ever. This upcoming feature could make that search even easier if all you need is a modern Android smartphone.


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WhatsApp for Android is making it much easier to find older messages

WhatsApp users on Android just got access to a feature that iPhone owners have been making use of for a while now: the ability to search through conversations by date, which makes it much easier to dig out old chats.

The new feature was announced by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his WhatsApp channel (via TechCrunch), and is apparently rolling out to Android devices now – so if you don't have it already, you should see it soon.

To use it, head into any of your chats, then tap the three dots (top right) and Search. You should then see a calendar icon in the top-right corner, which you can tap on to jump to messages sent and received on a particular day. You can also tap on the name of the conversation at the top to find the Search option.

This is all very similar to how the 'search by date' function works on other platforms, but Android has been lagging behind in this respect – even WhatsApp for the web offers the option to search through chats by date.

Regular updates

WhatsApp date search

How the ‘search by date’ feature looks on Android (Image credit: Future)

This is of course a handy and welcome addition for WhatsApp users on Android, as it could save a serious amount of scrolling – assuming of course, that you can remember the date when you got the message or media file you're looking for.

To give the WhatsApp team credit, it's an app that gets new features on a regular basis, though not always at the same time on Android and iOS. The app actually looks different depending on which mobile OS you're using – Android puts the navigation tabs at the top, for example, but they're underneath the chat list on iOS.

Despite these disparities, the app continues to grow in popularity as a cross-platform, secure, and reliable messaging platform. It's estimated to have around 2 billion active users worldwide, which is a fair chunk of the global population.

In recent months we've seen WhatsApp roll out upgrades for photo and video sharing, as well as test an expansion of the Chat Lock feature, making it easier to protect certain conversations across multiple devices.

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