Android 14 embraces Meta’s early adoption and enhances the user experience

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After the initial Developer Preview of Android 15 was made available, there won’t be much longer until there’s another major Android update that adds new features and under-the-hood enhancements for billions of people globally. You are important participants in this growth as Android developers; by remaining abreast of the target SDK upgrade cycle, you provide the optimal experience for your consumers.

The strategy used by Meta, the company behind Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, with Android 14 offers a guide for developers looking to succeed as well as for users wanting to be satisfied. Intending to gain insights that other developers may use in their tests, we chatted with the Meta team to learn more about how they increased their velocity toward target SDK adoption by 4x.

The voyage of Meta on A14: A model for quicker adoption

After the release of Android 11, a few of Meta’s applications encountered difficulties utilizing both new and pre-existing capabilities, such as scoped storage integration and Chat Heads. A decentralized app approach and the sluggish uptake of developer tools made fixing these problems more difficult. Because of this experience, Meta developed an internal program called Android OS Readiness Program, which prioritizes rigorous testing early in the Android release window and speeds up the target SDK acceptance for their apps.

Last year was the program’s formal debut. Meta was able to adopt new Android 14 features, such as Foreground Service types, with ease. They also sent timely feedback and bug reports to the Android team, which helped to improve the OS. Meta accomplished this by compiling apps against each Android 14 beta and performing extensive automated and smoke tests to proactively identify potential issues.

Additionally, Meta expedited the adoption of its target SDK for Android 14 updating Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger within one to two months of the AOSP release, as opposed to seven to nine months for Android 12 a velocity increase of more than four times. This accomplishment was made possible by Meta’s recently established readiness program, which aimed to update all apps to the most recent Android versions while preserving compatibility.

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For instance, Meta was able to reduce rollout times from three weeks to less than three hours by automating and streamlining their SDK release process. This improved collaboration amongst app teams by giving them instant access to the most recent SDKs and facilitating quick testing of new OS features. Because of its centralized strategy, Threads was able to swiftly implement support for Android 14, even though its rapidly expanding new app only had a small staff behind it.

Reaping the Benefits: Users’ Experience

Users gain a great deal from Meta’s early target SDK adoption approach as well. How to do it is as follows:

  • Enhanced compatibility and dependability: Users upgrading to the most recent version of Android will have a seamless first day of usage thanks to the early adoption of Android previews and betas, which avoided surprises close to the OS launch. For instance, Meta’s thorough testing with permission flows with partial media permissions maximized the app’s media-sharing capabilities while guaranteeing that “users felt informed about the change and in control over their privacy settings.”

  • Deep experimentation with new release features: Meta’s early acceptance of Android releases allowed them to work closely with the teams responsible for design, content strategy, and privacy, which allowed them to carefully incorporate the new Android features that are released with each version. The ability to roll out the Ultra HDR image experience on Instagram within three months of the platform’s release in an “Android first” manner is a great example of how this improved collaboration on other features. Users were delighted to see brighter, richer colors with a higher dynamic range in their Instagram posts and stories.metas-adoption-of-ultra-hdr-in-android-14-brings-brighter-colors-and-dynamic-range-65e881215b04b

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Accept the newest iterations of Android

The following are some strong arguments in favor of Android developers using the Android betas with a similarly forward-thinking approach, as demonstrated by Meta’s journey:

  • Check your applications beforehand: To provide a smooth transition for customers updating to the newest Android version, anticipate changes in the Android OS and make sure your apps are ready for the most recent target SDK as soon as they become available.

  • Use the newest technologies to enhance user experience: Examine your apps carefully against each beta to find and fix any possible problems. Use the compatibility framework tool in your testing process to help find possible app issues in the new OS version, and check the Android Studio Upgrade Assistant to indicate key-breaking changes in each target SDK version.

  • Work together with Google: Use the Google issue tracker to report bugs and offer insightful comments that will directly enhance the Android environment.

Starting with the recently released Android 15 Developer Preview 1, we urge you to fully utilize the Android Developer Previews and Betas program.

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