What is New in Android 15 Beta 2

Perhaps it’s because most of the pressure for this year’s system updates seems to have come to Gemini’s side, Android 15 Beta 2 has been a lot more efficient than before in pushing new features online and fixing existing issues – in the early morning hours of May 16th, Google’s I/O 2024 keynote featured far less drama. The second beta of the pitiful Android 15 was pushed out to models including the Pixel 8a.

We focus on the most notable update in this Beta 2 – Private Space.

Google started testing this feature in the Android 14 QPR2 Beta in November last year, and after half a year of polishing, it’s finally delivered in Android 15 Beta 2, which is pretty mature (and really fast).

After upgrading to Beta 2, we can find the setting portal of Private Space in “System Settings > Security and Privacy”, which requires independent encryption method, and can be set through PIN code, fingerprint and other encryption means supported by the device.

According to the setting instructions, the main function of the private space is to lock and hide the dedicated applications, and when it is turned on, the system will generate a set of operating environment independent of the main space, similar to the work profile or user configuration. Private Space has a separate set of Google services, including the basic Play Store, Chrome, Albums, Camera, Contacts, and other apps-which means you’ll need to sign in to a different Google account the first time you set up Private Space. The heavy reliance on Google’s services and account system naturally raises questions about whether this feature will be widely recognized and followed within the Android ecosystem.

Compared to the various app dual-open and parallel space solutions already on the market, Private Space feels more like a Google version of Samsung’s Safe Folder. Considering the relationship between Samsung Knox and Safe Folders, perhaps this feature has something to do with the fact that Samsung will finally support A/B partitioning in 2024. Once Private Space is turned on, you’ll find a folder-like area at the bottom of the Android 15’s app drawer, where both pre-built and user-installed apps in Private Space are presented.

In terms of stealth, Private Space can be completely hidden from the app drawer when it’s turned off. At this time, we can only unlock it by searching for the keyword “Private Space”; when it is on, the system settings, sharing menu and other interfaces will be differentiated by the labels of “Personal” and “Private”, which allows us to make different settings and operations for different usage environments.

So even though it’s not as thorough as some domestic systems, such as providing a separate desktop layout, supporting the lock screen through different fingerprints to unlock directly into the private space and so on, Google’s set of private space can still meet most of our expectations of the function in practice, and in some details of the design is also perfect enough. For example, when you are in the private space open state, we can quickly move it to the private space by long-pressing the main space app icon; or open the same app in the main space and private space at the same time, to realize the “dual-open apps”; the icon of the app in the private space will have a private space indication, and there will be an icon reminder in the status bar when it’s running, and at the same time, although the files in the main space and private space are isolated from each other, for example, screenshots in the private space can only be viewed in the private space, but not the main space. Meanwhile, although the files in the main space and private space are separated from each other, for example, the screenshots in the private space can only be seen in the albums in the private space, but when using the system sharing menu, you can select different space objects to realize cross-space file sharing.

By the way, Kernel SU, a popular rooting solution, has also announced that it supports installing Kernel SU only in the private space after Android 15 Beta 2 is launched, so if the isolation between the main space and the private space is thorough enough, is it possible to realize the needs of no-rooting in the main space (convenient for authentication by banking apps), rooting and playing in the private space, etc., with the help of this solution? The solution will be able to fulfill the needs of root-free main space (to facilitate authentication of banking apps) and rooted play in private space.

In a nutshell, Android 15 Beta 2’s “Private Space” is a secure folder, a sandbox, and naturally a tool for dual-opening applications. As a newly launched feature, it is already very perfect in terms of functional design, operation mechanism, and interaction design, with the only drawback being a strong dependency on Google services and a second Google account. Expect manufacturers to improve on this basis.

Android 15 Beta 2 is ‘future-proof’ in terms of other new features.

For example, support for 16KB memory pages.

If you think of memory as a library, memory paging is a way to categorize books. A book that is too thin has little content, and it’s not reasonable to have to read the top, middle, and bottom of the page to finish a short story; a book that is too thick has a lot of content, but what you want to know may only be the key information of a certain section of the book.

So a reasonable paging size is closely related to the efficiency of memory usage. Apple, for example, uses 4KB of physical memory and 16KB of virtual memory for iPhones based on the A7 and A8 processors, and 16KB of physical and virtual memory for iPhones based on the A9 and later processors.

On the Android side, although some big manufacturers insist that 8GB is enough, 12GB or even larger memory has already entered the mainstream consumer market, and it’s not new that Android 15 has chosen to introduce support for 16KB memory pages at this time, which to a certain extent also avoids the frequent cases of software dragging behind the hardware, manufacturers having to build their own wheels, and Android adding support for 16KB memory pages a year later. A year later, Android was found to have added support for 16KB memory pages and then had to start all over again.

On the graphics performance front, there is finally a clearer timeline for the standardization push of ANGLE on the Android platform.

Simply put, ANGLE is a system module that acts as a converter or translator between graphics programming languages such as OpenGL/ES and Vulkan. Unlike earlier years, when Android ran directly, or translated apps and games developed in OpenGL/ES with the help of translation layers provided by chip makers such as Qualcomm, the ANGLE module is open source and free of charge, allowing Android devices to directly reap the benefits of the more advanced Vulkan. The ANGLE module is open-source and free, allowing Android devices to take advantage of the benefits of the more advanced Vulkan.

As the Vulkan API has been widely used in the gaming industry in recent years, Android has finally had the courage to popularize the ANGLE module as the platform’s default module in the ecosystem.

Finally, dav1d codec support, which is good for mid-range and low-end devices, is also built into Android 15. Simply put, dav1d is able to provide 3x the video playback performance of AV1 soft codecs on devices that don’t support AV1 hardware codecs, allowing devices that wouldn’t otherwise be able to save streaming and bandwidth by using AV1 codecs to have a better streaming experience.

What’s more, Google has also announced plans to adopt dav1d as the default AV1 codec for Android, which will be available on more Android 11 devices with the help of the Google Play system update.