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Android 15 beta 2 launches with exciting new features beyond Gemini AI

Published May 15th, 2024 1:00PM EDT
Android 15 will be all about AI features this year.
Image: Google Inc.

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Google delivered its big I/O 2024 keynote on Tuesday, with everyone focusing on Gemini AI. However, a shocking surprise was the lack of Android 15 demos during the show.

The company did reveal three big AI features coming to Android 15: Circle to Search improvements to handle things like school homework, Gemini assistant’s context-aware functionality, and upgrades to the on-device capabilities of Gemini Nano. But that was it.

Android is no longer the main attraction of I/O, as Google’s attention has shifted to artificial intelligence. However, Android is still one of the main ways to access Gemini AI. That’s why Google is rethinking Android by placing AI at its core.

Google did say that Android 15 beta 2 would launch on Wednesday, and it turns out that Google had some big Android 15 announcements to coincide with the release.

Android 15 beta 2 is now available to Pixel devices and a slew of other Android phones and tablets. In addition, Google announced a few exciting new features for its latest mobile operating system.

Android 15 beta 2 compatibility list

If you own a recent Pixel smartphone, foldable, or tablet, you can install the Android 15 beta right away. That should go without saying. Google’s devices are the first to get Android updates, including Android beta access.

But, as in previous years, other Android vendors will let you install the latest Android beta, and the list of Google partners has grown significantly. Google announced that Honor, Iqoo, Lenovo, Nothing, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Tecno, vivo, and Xiaomi devices are eligible for the Android 15 beta test.

You’ll have to check with your vendor to see which specific models can run the Android 15 beta. Chances are the newer the handset, the easier it’ll be to install the beta. A list of supported devices will also appear at this link.

The Gemini Assistant will be aware of what you're doing on your Android phone and provide help if prompted.
The Gemini Assistant will be aware of what you’re doing on your Android phone and provide help if prompted.

New Android 15 features

As always with beta software, you should expect bugs and other issues. That’s the risk of running prerelease software, and it’s up to you to choose if you’re okay with that. If you’d rather wait for the final Android 15 release, you should know it’s coming sometime in August or September. Google expects the betas to be more stable in June and July if you don’t want to wait that long.

Whether you install Android 15 beta 2 right now or later, you should still be aware of a few exciting features Google added to the new release. These are in addition to the Circle to Search, Gemini Assistant, and Gemini Nano improvements coming to Android 15.

Private space

The private space folder in Android 15.
The private space folder in Android 15. Image source: Google

Private space is easily one of the most interesting additions to Android 15. As the name implies, Android 15 will let you create a private space that’s hidden from other people who might use your Android phone. You’ll protect this private space with another layer of authentication beyond the screen lock password and fingerprint combination. It can even be a different password than the screen lock.

You can place any app you want in the private space. Medical apps and online banking apps could easily make it into this space. But you can hide all sorts of apps, including apps that handle photos and documents. Considering the images Google used to showcase the feature, it looks like you’ll be also able to have separate copies of core Google apps, like Chrome, Photos, Drive, and even the Play Store.

Google says that Android 15 will isolate data and notifications for the private space from the rest of the phone.

Theft Detection Lock

Android 15's new anti-theft AI-powered features.
Android 15’s new anti-theft AI-powered features. Image source: Google

Speaking of thieves, Android 15 will leverage the phone’s AI to determine whether someone stole your handset. Maybe they dashed after snatching it from your hands and then got on a bike or car. Android 15 will interpret it as a theft motion and lock down the phone.

Android 15 will also lock devices if they go offline.

Real-time protection against fraud apps

One of Google’s Gemini Nano on-device features in Android 15 is real-time protection against potential scammers who call you. The AI can listen to your calls and tell you if it thinks someone is trying to social engineer private data out of you.

Beyond that, Android 15 will also get real-time protection against fraud apps you might mistakenly install. Google Play Protect will use on-device AI to detect fraud or phishing attempts. Google says the whole process happens on-device without collecting any user data. When Android 15 detects a malicious app, it’ll send information to Google and warn the user. Google will disable the app if it can confirm the suspected malicious activity.

Add items to Google Wallet with a photo

You can add items to Google Wallet by taking a photo.
You can add items to Google Wallet by taking a photo. Image source: Google

Here’s another Android 15 feature that users can experiment with while testing the beta as long as they’re based in the US. You can take photos of passes that contain just text to create a digital version of them.

Google Wallet will support “event tickets, library cards, auto insurance cards, gym membership cards, and more.” To use them, you just need to take a photo of them.

Google Maps gets AR content

Google also announced that augmented reality (AR) experiences are coming to Google Maps. That’s beyond using Live View in Google Maps to navigate to your destination in AR. The new AR Experiences are possible if locations in Google Maps support them. They’ll be available initially in Singapore and Paris.

The AR Experiences will be available when visiting a place in person or exploring it remotely via Street View.

Other features

Android 15 beta 2 will also offer access to plenty of other features. They might not be available immediately, but Google is already working on them. For example, RCS messaging is coming to Japanese Android users this year.

Cars with Google built-in will support more apps, including Max, Peacock, Angry Birds, and others. Starting with Rivian, cars with Android Automotive OS will get Google Cast (Chromecast built-in).

AI support is coming to Google TV to help you surface new content. Gemini will power AI-generated descriptions on the home screen based on the actors and genres you might favor.

WearOS 5 will bring over battery life optimizations. Google says outdoor marathon running will consume up to 20% less power. As someone who just ran a marathon using the Apple Watch, I know how important battery life is for this type of training.

Geminin Nano will process more AI data on-device in Android 15.
Geminin Nano will process more AI data on-device in Android 15.

Speaking of battery life, Google is working on making the entire Android 15 experience more energy-efficient while making it faster. That means better battery life and speedier app loading times. You might not notice these improvements in Android 15 beta 2, but things should improve by the final release this summer.

Google’s Fast Pair functionality in Android 15 will help you track the battery life of accessories and locate missing ones, in addition to connecting to all sorts of existing and new accessories, including unreleased trackers.

To read more about Google’s Android 15 update, check this link. App developers will want to see this link for more details about the beta 2 release.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.