Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 introduces large screen improvements for Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet users Leave a comment

Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 began to roll out yesterday to eligible Google Pixel devices enrolled in the Android Beta Program. The first beta includes a new round of bug fixes plus stability and performance improvements, as well as the September security patch and a glimpse into the upcoming December Pixel Feature Drop.

However, as a Google Pixel Fold user, there were two features introduced to this update that were of particular interest: App continuity on the front display when folding the device and the ability to change the aspect ratio on apps that don’t natively support it. Both of these solve two specific pain points that Pixel Fold users and reviewers have been quite vocal about when it came to the user experience on Google’s first generation foldable.

App continuity on front display

One common issue that Pixel Fold users haven’t been happy with is the fact that the device’s front screen locks when attempting to transition from the inner display to the front display. Fortunately, Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 introduces a setting that allows users to control this behavior.

You can change this in Settings > Display > Lock display > Continue using apps on fold, which gives you three distinct options:
  • Always: Front display turns on when you fold your device
  • Only games, videos, and more: Front display turns on for apps that stop your screen going idle
  • Never: Front display locks when you fold your device

Once I updated my Pixel Fold to the new beta, it defaulted to the middle option where my front display would lock unless I was playing a game or watching a video. However, I went ahead and changed the setting to “Always” so that my front screen would activate when I folded my device and thus I could seamlessly continue what I was doing.

Large screen user per-app overrides

Perhaps one of the most common complaints about the Pixel software experience on the Pixel Fold has been Google’s inability to persuade app developers into creating a tablet or larger screen-friendly version of their apps. This has been particularly evident with apps like Instagram, which have been historically stubborn about supporting aspect ratios other than the traditional slab phone format.

However, Android 14 QPR1 adds a new setting to some large-screen devices, like the Pixel Tablet and Pixel Fold, that lets users change the aspect ratio of apps. Users can choose from a list of apps and set the aspect ratio to different values, like 4:3, 16:9, and full screen. The device maker decides which aspect ratio values are available, but users will also now have control over this setting and can reset the value back to the app’s default if needed.
It should be noted, though, that Google does provide a way out of this to app developers that insist on, for whatever reason, not supporting larger screens. This does require some work on their part, in the form of changing a flag in the code, but it is not the default. This can tell us, with a certain amount of certainty, whether an app is purposely choosing to control the user’s chosen experience. 

In the case of Instagram, for example, I was able to override the aspect ratio to fill the entire screen. In one of my accounts, I was able to enjoy the new tablet UI that Instagram has been A/B testing with some users which moves the icons to the side, while in the other account the app was just stretched out to fill in the blank space.

Instagram’s new larger screen UI vs. Instagram’s current UI stretch to fill larger screens

Samsung ZFold users have had this override available to them for some time now, so it is quite refreshing to see Google implement this in a more native fashion. Users can now choose to have apps fill the entire screen, even if they weren’t designed to do so. This can be useful for apps that don’t have a full-screen mode, or for apps that users want to see more of.

If you would like to try out these features sooner rather than later, you can do so by enrolling your Pixel in the Android Beta Program in order to receive all the Android 14 QPR1 beta releases and thus enjoy feature drops ahead of time. However, do keep in mind that this is beta software, so bugs are expected. If you prefer to wait until things are stable, you will be happy to know that these features should be available in December as part of the regularly scheduled feature drop.

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