A rundown of what’s new and improved in Android 15 — so far

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Google’s next big mobile software update is now in public beta.

Hand holding Android phone against illustrated background

Illustration by Samar Haddad / The Verge

The annual refreshes of Android and iOS are always worth looking out for, and in the wake of Google I/O 2024, we now have the second beta release of Android 15, so it’s a good opportunity to round up everything coming to the OS this year.

If you want to get involved in the beta testing — bearing in mind that these betas will have bugs and issues — head here to see if your device is eligible. Google Pixel owners can sign up, and a select number of phones from third-party manufacturers are included in the program, too, including handsets from OnePlus and Nothing (though not Samsung as yet).

Bear in mind that features will be added (and quite possibly removed) in the months to come as we head toward the full launch of Android 15, which will be around October if Google follows the Android 14 schedule. But for now, here’s what’s new and improved in Android 15 so far.

Better multitasking

Android 15 will improve the multitasking experience on tablets and large-screen displays by enabling you to pin the taskbar permanently on the screen for a more desktop-like experience. What’s more, split-screen app combinations — like Gmail and YouTube — can be saved to bring back later. These app pairs can be pinned to the taskbar, too.

Private space

Mobile page headed “Choose a new lock for private space?” and with two lock icons at bottom.

Mobile page headed “Choose a new lock for private space?” and with two lock icons at bottom.

Your private space can use the same lock as your handset.
Screenshot: Google
Mobile screen titled Private space with instructions and four blue dots and a lock icon.

Mobile screen titled Private space with instructions and four blue dots and a lock icon.

You can use a different Google account with your private space.
Screenshot: Google

Android 15 is adding a new secure location on your phone — a private space — so you can lock away your most sensitive apps and the data inside them. If you use a Samsung phone, there’s already something similar called Secure Folder, but now it’s going to be baked into Android for all users.

It works by creating a new section in the app drawer that will need extra verification (like a passcode or fingerprint) to access. You can install any apps you like here, including separate instances of the Camera, Google Photos, and Google Chrome, for photos, videos, and web browsing that you really don’t want anyone else to see.

Predictive back

This oddly named feature means you see a quick preview of what you’re going back to when you use the universal back gesture (a swipe in from the side of the screen). So, for example, you might see a website you just left or the homescreen — the idea being that users know what they’re going back to before they complete the gesture.

Partial screen recording

New in Android 15 is the ability to record just part of the screen rather than all of it; this is handy if you’re putting together a tutorial, troubleshooting a problem, or recording your screen for any other reason. It’s available in Android’s own screen recorder tool, and developers can add it to their own apps as well.

Redesigned volume sliders

Pop-up on mobile screen with Start recording? on top and a drop-down menu headed A single app.

Pop-up on mobile screen with Start recording? on top and a drop-down menu headed A single app.

Screen recordings can now just capture a single app.
Screenshot: Google
Pop-up menu headed This phone with sliders for Media, Call, Ring, Notifications, and Alarm.

Pop-up menu headed This phone with sliders for Media, Call, Ring, Notifications, and Alarm.

The volume sliders panel gets a redesign.
Screenshot: Google

Perhaps not the most important change but one you’ll see a lot: the panel that appears when you tap the three dots on the bottom of the volume slider now takes up more room on-screen, making it easier to adjust volumes for media, alarms, and calls. You’re also able to access connected Bluetooth devices from the same screen.

Satellite messaging

It looks as though Android phones might finally get satellite messaging, just like the iPhone. We say “might” because while Android 15 will officially “extend platform support for satellite connectivity” in terms of software features, this connectivity is also going to have to be built into the hardware and presumably involve a satellite network partner.

Widget previews

Part of a mobile screen showing a list of available widgets on the left and an example of a widget in the center.

Part of a mobile screen showing a list of available widgets on the left and an example of a widget in the center.

Richer widget previews are on the way.
Screenshot: Google

Widgets are nothing new in Android, of course, but usually when you’re adding new ones to the homescreen, you just see generic examples of what the widgets look like. In Android 15, developers can add rich previews to widgets — so, for example, when you add a contact widget, you’ll be able to preview how it looks using one of your actual contacts.

Set custom vibrations

Something for those of you who always have your phones muted: Android apps have previously been able to set their own custom vibrations, but in Android 15, you’re going to be able to set these yourself for specific notification channels. So you can have one buzz for an email and two buzzes for a text, for example.

One-time password protection

You may have accounts you log in to that are sent to one-time passwords (OTPs) to prove you are who you say you are. In Android 15, notifications with these OTPs won’t show up on-screen, minimizing the risk of anyone stealing your passwords by looking over your shoulder or somehow recording your screen.

Anti-theft protection

two screenshots, one headed Create a new Tribank account with a passkey offer and the other headed Theft Protection.

two screenshots, one headed Create a new Tribank account with a passkey offer and the other headed Theft Protection.

New security features hide one-time passwords and deter thieves.
Screenshots: Google

Google is adding a bunch of features to Android to deter thieves. Theft Detection Lock, for example, will use AI to detect if your phone is snatched at speed and then automatically turn on the lock screen. This auto-lock will also kick in if your phone is off the grid for an extended period of time or if too many failed authentication attempts are made.

You’ll also be able to more easily lock your device remotely. All of these features are heading to devices running Android 10 or later at some point this year, but one is exclusive to Android 15: your device can’t be reset (a common tactic used by thieves) without access to your Google account credentials, which means only you will be able to do it.

More convenient passkeys

Android 15 is also bringing with it some useful tweaks to passkey support on your phone — that’s where you use a phone unlock method (like a fingerprint scan) rather than a password to get into your Google account. In the new OS, the account selection screen and confirmation screen are combined into one, so that’s one less screen to get through. Google is also adding a new restore feature to make it easier to transfer your credentials over to a new phone.

And more…

Android updates always include a bunch of tweaks and minor improvements that don’t necessarily grab a lot of attention but are still welcome nevertheless. With Android 15, they include more efficient video processing, better handling of apps running in the foreground (a boost for battery life), security protections to stop malicious apps hijacking tasks run by trustworthy apps, and the ability for Health Connect to pull in more data from more apps over a longer time period.

And even more…

Then there are the features that haven’t been announced but that diligent code diggers have found. As these updates are disabled and hidden away and yet to be mentioned by Google, we can’t promise they’ll make the final release of Android 15. But if you’re interested, they include a Samsung DeX-like desktop mode, a status page for the health of your phone’s storage, and an extra-dim mode that makes it easier to read a phone screen in very dark environments. 

It’s possible that Google will decide against including some of these features in the full release of Android 15, but we’re likely to get a few more updates and announcements before then — we’re by no means on the final version of the software yet.

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