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Every new feature in Google’s new release

Screenshot of Android 14 QPR1's USB Preferences, with new Webcam option highlighted

Android 14 has been released in stable, but Google isn’t done improving and enhancing the current Android release. Along with the regular monthly security patches, the company is providing extra support for its Google Pixel phones, bringing new features with its quarterly Feature Drops. These Feature Drops and Android 14 are filled with new features, like Android 13.

This article dives into everything you need to know about the current Android release and its updates. For a more personal and opinionated take, look at our Android 14 review.

Android 14 timeline and supported devices

Google adopted a quarterly update cadence like it did with Android 12 and 13. As such, the stable Android 14 release will see three more updates, with the first released as the December Feature Drop in 2023. The second one, slated to launch in March as the March Feature Drop, is currently in testing as the Android 14 QPR2 Beta. It should be followed by one more QPR beta program, with the next one being the June Feature Drop.

Android 14 is coming to all recently released Android devices, though it may take some time to roll out to all phones and tablets. If you have a Google Pixel phone, you are at the forefront of getting updates. Chances are you’re up and running with the new release. The following Google Pixel devices are supported on Android 14, in chronological order of release:

  • Google Pixel 8 & 8 Pro
  • Pixel Fold
  • Pixel Tablet
  • Pixel 7a
  • Pixel 7 & 7 Pro
  • Pixel 6a
  • Pixel 6 & 6 Pro
  • Pixel 5a 5G
  • Pixel 5
  • Pixel 4a 5G

The Pixel 4a 5G reached end of life with Android 14. It will not receive further updates, barring some last cleanup release to make sure the device stays bug-free. The Pixel 4a without 5G doesn’t get updates beyond Android 13.

If you want to install the QPR beta on your Pixel to stay up to date with the latest and greatest that Android has to offer, join the Android beta program.

All the new features in Android 14 December Feature Drop

Before diving into what’s new in Android 14, let’s look at what the December Feature Drop brings. Many of its additions make Android 14 better. It was released in stable on December 6, 2023. While this summarizes the highlights in this version, we also have a deep dive into everything new in the latest feature drop.

The Android 14 QPR2 beta program is underway right now, so check back to learn what’s new in Android 14 QPR2.

Android 14 December Feature Drop gives you a central place for software updates

Google doesn’t make it easy to keep your Android phone updated. Apart from regular system updates that bring you a new Android version, you have monthly security patches and Google Play system updates, which are installed separately from the others. That’s where the December Feature Drop’s new Software updates panel comes in, which gives you quick access to system and Google Play system updates. You can also jump over to the Play Store via a shortcut to check if your applications are up to date.

Android 14 December Feature Drop adds weather to the Clock app

Google is adding weather forecasts to its Clock app’s widget. This is something that other manufacturers offered in the Android 2.x days, but Google never found it necessary to connect these two data points.

With the December Feature Drop, this is changing. When you add multiple time zones or places to the Clock section of the app, you can see the current weather conditions in all places, including your current location. The feature extends to the clock widget, at least in bigger versions of it.

Android 14 December Feature Drop lets you use your phone as a webcam

Apple recently added Continuity Camera to its iPhones and Macs, allowing you to seamlessly use an iPhone as a webcam for calls you take on your MacBook. Google is on board with this idea, with the Android 14 December Feature Drop allowing you to do the same. The Android version of this feature has advantages and disadvantages over Apple’s approach.

On the one hand, it only works wired, so you’ll plug your phone in for all calls. On the other hand, Google’s version is compatible with virtually all desktop operating systems, making it a more versatile solution than Apple’s walled garden.

Android 14 December Feature Drop lets you change the aspect ratio on the Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold offers a unique way around apps optimized for horizontal phones. Rather than blowing up the interface to both sides, the phone automatically letterboxes poorly optimized apps, making them appear in their preferred look. There hasn’t been a way to override this setting until now. Android 14’s December Feature Drop offers an experimental aspect ratio section in system settings under Apps. In it, you choose which apps to set to fullscreen and which to set to letterboxed.

Android 14 December Feature Drop adds a battery cycle count

Long-term battery health becomes important for phones that receive updates for more than seven years, like the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro. Google has features to keep your battery in good shape as much as possible. For example, your Pixel only fully charges shortly before your alarm rings in the morning, preventing the battery from sitting at 100% too long.

With Android 14’s December Feature Drop, Google wants to give you more control and information with a new cycle count in your battery settings. This won’t tell you in what shape your battery is, but if you have hundreds of cycles in and experience worse battery life, this indicates you may need a new battery soon.

Android 14 December Feature Drop gets a new lock screen clock style

Android 14 added a selection of lock screen clocks to help you personalize your phone. With the Android 14 December Feature Drop, you get one more clock to tune your lock screen. It’s called Metro, and it offers a multicolor look with different shapes and forms, making great use of Material You or whatever color you choose for the clock.

All the new features in Android 14

Android 14 is full of new features, and this rundown lists the additions we spotted in order of significance. You will find the most obvious and impactful changes in the beginning and more obscure and behind-the-scenes tweaks further in the back.

Android 14 adds lock screen customization

Apple offers highly customizable lock screens on iOS 16, and it was clear that Google would have to provide an answer to this at some point. With Android 14, that’s the case. The company makes it possible to switch out the default lock screen clock for various options. On top of that, you can choose a more complex interface that rearranges the other data on your lock screen, like the current weather conditions and the date.

With Android 14, switching to different quick action buttons at the bottom will be possible if you don’t care for home automatization or Google Wallet. You can decide whether to access the QR code scanner, the flashlight, Do Not Disturb or Mute, photo or video camera, or nothing if you prefer a cleaner look. To trigger the actions, long press the buttons, similar to how it’s done on iOS. You can access the customization options by long pressing the home screen, which is also something Apple added to its operating system a while ago.

Say farewell to this Android 14 clock face.

In Android 14 Beta 5, the Google phones lost one of the new options. Specifically, the clock in a handwritten style has been removed, leaving only seven distinct styles. Google hasn’t given an explanation for this move.

Android 14 has a spacey Easter egg

Every Android version has a little Easter egg hidden in system settings. This is also true for Android 14. True to the Apollo 14-inspired logo for this release, the Easter egg has you launch a rocket, flying through the vast emptiness of space with the option to explore stars, planets, and more. It’s a fun little mini-game you should try when you get your hands on Android 14.

Like in previous releases, you can access it by opening system settings and heading to About phone > Android version and repeatedly and quickly tapping the Android version entry. Then, long press the Android 14 logo for a while to launch the rocket, complete with haptic feedback.

Android 14 gets redesigned back arrow for gesture navigation

When you update to Android 14, you’ll notice that the back arrow sits in a Material You-colored bubble. Some apps like Google News and settings support predictive back animations (which you’ll activate in developer options), revealing which screen you get to next as you drag your finger across the screen.

Android 14 offers an improved system share sheet

We spotted Google’s new system share sheet with app actions in Android 14 Developer Preview 2, but it took the company some time to make this official. In Android 14, apps can add custom actions to the system share menu. This allows an application like Chrome to include custom sharing options like Send to your devices, QR code, or Copy link, omitting the need for a custom share sheet.

Android 14 also decouples the share menu from the system and turns it into an independently updated Project Mainline module. This allows the company to push new versions of the component without a full system update. In the long term, this would mean that changes to the share sheet would arrive on all Android phones running Android 14 and higher. The change might be bitterly needed as the share sheet has become one of Android’s weak spots with much room for improvement.

Android 14 offers small but delightful interface tweaks

Android 14 offers some small but delightful interface tweaks visible. There is a revamped battery saving mode toggle, some home screen pop-up changes, share sheet enhancements, a new monochromatic theme, and more.

On top of this, Android 13 introduced a clipboard overlay that shows the text you added to your system clipboard after selecting copy or cut, making it easy to tweak the text before pasting. When you copy something while your keyboard is open, this popup takes up quite a bit of space. Android 14 changes that with a new minimized clipboard overlay that shows up when you use the keyboard. It doesn’t show you which text you copied, but you can tap it to expand it and interact with the copied values as you usually would.

Android 14 improves PIN security and convenience

Android 14 includes some swanky new lock screen animations when typing your PIN. Rather than the numbers appearing, a new shape appears with each number, as spotted by Mishaal Rahman.

Many Android phones support unlocking your device instantly when you enter the correct PIN without tapping an extra enter button. Google is bringing this capability to Pixel phones. When a PIN has six digits or more, an option becomes available in system settings under Security & privacy > Device unlock > screen lock cog, making it possible to turn on Auto-confirm unlock. If you first set up a six-digit PIN, the option is ticked on by default, though you can uncheck it if you prefer not to show a thief how many digits your PIN has.

Android 14 Beta auto entry PIN

The auto-entry option will be activated by default when you set up a new PIN.

With the tweak activated, you see outlines on your PIN entry screen indicating how many digits you have to type, with the Enter button gone in the keyboard. The outlines fill up as you tap the keys. When you enter a wrong digit on the last outline, the entry field clears instantly and makes you fully repeat your PIN.

Android 14 adds more sideloading restrictions in the name of security

As spotted in inadvertently leaked source code, Google is restricting sideloading with Android 14. By default, you won’t be able to install apps that target an SDK version lower than 23, introduced in 2015 with Android 6. Google explains that malware often uses SDK versions targeting older versions of Android to avoid restrictions part of SDK version 23 and higher. This makes it harder to get malware on devices, even when bad actors convince users to sideload an app rather than getting it from the Play Store.

If you rely on an outdated app that targets an older version of Android, it is possible to override the block by installing it using ADB with the adb install –bypass-low-target-sdk-block FILENAME.apk command. These are a lot of hoops to jump through for bad actors trying to convince victims to install their malware, and Google probably counts on most users abandoning the process.

In Android 14, app developers can also limit the visibility of their apps to disability-focused accessibility services. This blocks malware that uses accessibility services from snooping on private data in your password manager or your banking app. Only accessibility apps screened by Play Protect and the Play Store can access sensitive information protected by the new measure.

Android 14 has new default profile images

You must switch between different profiles if you share your device with multiple people (which might be the case for the Pixel Tablet, for example). You can either use your images to personalize them or rely on Android 14’s new collection of default images, first spotted by Mishaal Rahman.

Android 14 gets a more delightful user switching animation

With the Pixel Tablet coming soon, Google is apparently looking to improve the multi-user experience further. After the Pixel Tablet gets its Android 14 update, it will be able to take advantage of a new and delightful user switching animation, spotted via Mishaal Rahman. The new design adds a full-screen animation of the profile image, with a circle around it indicating a loading action. It’s not a big tweak, but it will make it clearer when you switch between users.

Android 14 improves the image permission dialog

Some of the biggest security features coming to Android 14 are image permission controls. These settings are similar to how iOS works currently, forcing all apps not using Google’s permissionless API to ask for your level of control options for media. For these, you will choose what level of access you want to give them to your image library, with options ranging from all images to a select few.

Android 14 supports dragging and dropping while switching apps

Video showing how text is dragged and dropped from one app to another using multitasking gestures

iOS has long allowed you to move across the operating system while you hold a drag-and-drop item with your free hand, and the same option is coming to Android with version 14. The feature works like you would expect it to and makes it possible to hold some text or an image you want to move from one app to another while you navigate between apps.

Android 14 brings back the clock shortcut in the notification shade

Animation showing how you can tap the clock in the notification shade and the quick settings toggles on Android 14 Beta 3

Google likes to tweak the notification shade with each of its Android updates, and the same is true for Android 14. The company is turning the clock in the upper-left corner into a tappable section, allowing you to quickly jump into the Clock app without forcing you to clutter your home screen with another icon or widget. The functionality is coming and going in Android, and it was last removed in Android 12 after it was available on Pixel phones on Android 11.

Android 14 has a new silent mode icon

Android 14 Beta 3 vs. Android 14 Beta 4.

Google loves to switch up things in the status bar at the top of your phone’s screen and in the notification shade with every new Android release. The same is true for Android 14. Rather than a crossed-out bell icon, you now see a crossed-out speaker icon in the status bar when you turn on silent mode. This aligns with a previous tweak in Android 14, which made the same icon switch in the volume rocker interface.

Android 14 gets a prominent charging indicator in the status bar

Android 14 introduces a new charging animation when you plug in your phone. It retains the particle animation of old and adds a pill-shaped background behind the battery indicator, making it clear that your phone is getting juiced up. The new design should make it easier to see that you properly plugged your device in and that it’s charging. The look is similar to how the camera and microphone usage indicators work.

Android 14 gets a very low battery warning to prevent unexpected shutdowns

If you like to run down your phone until the last drop of energy has left the battery, this change might be for you. On Android 14, Pixel phones will send a notification when your battery drops to 2%, giving you one last chance to scramble for your charger and top it up before the battery is fully depleted.

ANdroid 14 low battery warning

Source: Nick

Android 14 can show your battery health

Batteries are the phone components that get the most wear, though manufacturers are combating the issue with smart charging and overheating protections. Some phones, like Apple’s iPhones, allow you to look at your battery’s health, giving you a glimpse of how much of their original capacity they still offer. This same feature is coming to Android 14, with Google offering system APIs that determine the number of charge cycles your device went through and what percent of its original capacity it still offers. You can get this data using a third-party app, but Google will likely offer this data in system settings at some point.

Android 14 should have less battery drain with optimized background operations

Standby battery life has increased on Android over the years, but there is still work to do. With Android 14, Google is making changes to reserve foreground services to the highest priority user-facing tasks, meaning that apps won’t be able to use your phone’s full power when they want to do something in the background. Additionally, Google is making it easier for developers to program more complicated rules for background tasks, like forcing an app to download big files when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi.

Google has more restrictions planned for apps that use exact alarms to fire a notification or a task at a specific time in the future. Newly installed apps targeting Android 13 or higher will need to ask users for permission to set exact alarms, though Google encourages developers to avoid exact alarms whenever possible. The restriction doesn’t apply to alarm and calendar apps.

In the background, Google is optimizing how Android’s internal broadcast system works. This is Android communicating certain events to apps, such as when a specific battery level is reached or when airplane mode is entered or exited. Most of the changes to this system are supposed to be internal to Android and shouldn’t affect how apps work. Still, developers have to know that context-registered broadcasts might be queued up before being sent to cached apps in certain circumstances. In practice, this should lead to better standby battery life as the system has to wake up less often to send these broadcasts.

There will also be new Google Play policies that will force apps to adopt these new, more restrictive APIs, with the company saying that more details on this are coming soon.

android 14 battery stats using screen-on time on a Google Pixel 6

To make a point about its promised battery life improvements, Android 14 puts your screen-on time front and center in the system setting’s battery stats, above other usage statistics. After screen-on time was hidden from the battery section in Android 12 and only re-introduced with Android 13, this switch is a boon for those who use screen-on time to gauge how good or bad the battery life is on a given charge.

Android 14’s media player has a lava lamp effect

Google also added small tweaks to the media player. Telegram channel Google News spotted a lava lamp-style animation that billows on top of the media player has returned after first making its entrance in Android 13 QPR2 Beta 1, and the play/pause button now comes with a splash animation.

Android 14 can flash the flashlight for notifications

A new accessibility option turns on your display camera to flash when a notification rolls in. It could be a handy way to bring back notification lights on devices without them, although you can’t customize the camera’s flash settings. The feature is meant for those with hearing impairments, though many prefer this type of notification over sound.

A GIF showing what an incoming message notification looks like on a Pixel 6 with flash notifications enabled.

Android 14 separates the ringtone and notifications volume settings

Pixel phones have only allowed you to set one volume level across your notifications and ringtones. Android 14 might change that and make Pixel phones behave more like Samsung devices. Many people running Android 14 are seeing separate volume sliders for ringtones and notifications, making it easier to prioritize phone calls.

Further code changes suggest that Google is looking into a dynamically scaling volume slider to make it taller or shorter depending on the screen size. This may have been added in anticipation of more complicated devices like foldables, which offer different screen sizes depending on how you hold it and which screen you use.

Android 14 supports Ultra HDR for your photos and videos

In a blog post accompanying Google I/O, the company announced that you will be able to take and view images in Ultra HDR with a backward-compatible format. This is supposed to give you crisper shadows and brighter colors at an “all-around amazing definition” while being able to view content on older devices that don’t support this HDR format.

Android 14 brings Material You-themed toggles to settings

1st image: Android 14 Beta 2. 2nd: Android 14 Beta 3. Note the outline in the bottom inactive toggle.

Material You is part of Material Design 3, which isn’t only about colors and wallpaper-generated themes. The new iteration of Google’s design language adds tweaks to other interface elements, and among them is the trusty toggle. This new toggle design has made its way to the settings app on Android 14, completing the Material You look just a little more.

Android 14 gets a new mouse cursor

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A comparison of Android 13's and Android 14's mouse cursors

As Tasker developer João Dias (via Mishaal Rahman) spotted, Android 14 has a new mouse pointer that looks more modern and distinct compared to the current Mac-like version. The new look represents a triangle more than a pointer, though the design still makes its purpose obvious. With Google’s newfound interest in tablets and rumors of a Pro version of the Pixel Tablets floating around, it makes sense that it wants to polish productivity features like this.

Android 14 is adding tons of keyboard shortcuts

With Google entering the tablet market again with its first-party Pixel Tablet, the company is working on better keyboard shortcut support. Mishaal Rahman discovered a new menu hiding in Android 14, showing a list of all the keyboard shortcuts the new operating system supports. The list is more comprehensive, with more than 30 shortcuts, compared to 13 on Android 13.

Android 14 is getting a dedicated 2.4Ghz toggle for Wi-Fi hotspots

Older devices often don’t support 5GHz Wi-Fi, and that’s a hassle when you use your phone as a hotspot. Many Android manufacturers have added a descriptive toggle or checkmark to turn on 2.4GHz on their phones’ hotspots, but Google isn’t among them. That might change in Android 14, as Mishaal Rahman spotted Google working on a new Speed & Compatibility section in settings that allows you to switch between 2.4, 5, and 6GHz.

Android 14 makes Health Connect a system app and moves previous users over

We’ve known for a while that Google wants to turn its Health Connect service into a system app for all Android releases. Health Connect offers a layer that allows fitness and health apps to securely and privately share data, making it easier to create interoperable fitness services. One big step to make the system more reliable for developers is to pre-installed it on all Android phones, and Android 14 is making a big step towards that. People who currently have Health Connect installed need a different version of the app. Google is adding a migration screen that makes it easy to migrate from one version to the other, which was spotted by Mishaal Rahman.

Android 14 splits languages and input settings into two

Android 13 (first image) vs. Android 14 (last three images).

Android 14 splits the Languages & input settings under System, creating dedicated Languages and Keyboard categories, as Mishaal Rahman first saw. Nothing is new here except the more precise separation of settings related to languages and settings related to input. You’ll only notice a difference when you use a physical keyboard with your phone, as a new settings option shows up under Keyboard that lets you remap modifier keys.

Google announced changes to Android’s per-app language options, allowing you to tweak the language individual apps display in. Developers will be able to tweak which languages are displayed in the settings menu, allowing them to show different options for different regions or run A/B tests on which languages should be supported.

Meanwhile, for languages that have a grammatical gender, Android 14 officially introduces a new Grammatical Inflection API. This makes it easier to display different grammatical genders depending on how the app user should be addressed. Rather than tweaking each string that uses a grammatical gender individually, developers will add inflected versions for every relevant term in a translation. The API takes care of the rest.

Android 14 offers regional per-app preferences for date formats and more

Mishaal Rahman initially found this page hidden behind flags in February, but with the stable launch, everyone can see them in action. These settings are found below the per-app language options in Android 14, and they will make it possible for you to set your units and number preferences. You can use it to switch individual apps between Celsius and Fahrenheit, use different calendars like Chinese, Dangi, or Hebrew, select which day of the week you consider the first, and which number system to use.

Android 14 will show you what apps use your location for

Apps access your location for various reasons and sometimes share your data with third parties. To make this practice more transparent, Google requires developers to declare in the Play Store whether they share data with others. This information will surface when you grant an app permission to access your location, with a disclaimer at the top warning you when the service in question may share your location. If an app changes its policy, you’ll get an update in a notification.

Android 14 adds better accessibility thanks to bigger fonts and new hearing devices settings

As it does with almost every Android release, Google is improving the accessibility of the system. Android 14 is making it possible to scale text up to 200% rather than the old maximum of 130%. Google is introducing a non-linear font scaling curve to prevent layout issues arising from this setting. This will prevent text that is already large enough from getting bigger than necessary.

Mishaal Rahman uncovered a new hearing devices section in the Accessibility panel within Android 14’s settings. It will make it possible to pair a new hearing device using Bluetooth and collect relevant toggles in one place, like the hearing aid compatibility option meant to improve streamed audio to these devices. Google will likely turn this option on in subsequent releases.

Android 14 lets you tweak your font size on the go

A 200% text zoom might not always be practical, especially with apps that aren’t optimized to work with big font sizes. That’s where a new quick settings toggle for the notification shade comes in on Android 14. The toggle opens a popup that lets you adjust the font size on the go without diving deep into settings. The new toggle is automatically added to your notification shade the first time you choose a zoom option for fonts.

Android 14 is getting a revamped contrast selector

Material You was developed with contrast and accessibility in mind, but the colorful interface can be too much for some. That’s where a new contrast picker comes in, which is only available in the developer options in Android 14 for now, spotted by Mishaal Rahman. You can pick between Standard, Medium, and High.

Android 14 will offer AI-generated wallpapers — eventually

At Google I/O, the company announced that on Android 14, you will be able to use AI to generate wallpapers. That’s on top of features like cinematic wallpapers (which are still missing) and emoji backgrounds.

The feature uses Google’s text-to-image diffusion model, allowing you to create background art by stating what you want to see and which style it should follow. This is probably the most prominent generative AI feature to come to Android, but it’s still missing in action in the newest Android 14 betas we’ve had our hands on.

Android 14 helps you find out when your phone was manufactured

A small but possibly welcome change in the settings app relates to the date your phone was manufactured. As spotted by Mishaal Rahman, you can see which year your phone was made under Settings > About phone > Model. This same detail is embedded in your device’s serial number, which is where the date is derived from.

Android 14 offers new gesture navigation tutorials

Gesture navigation is still new to many users, and the navigation system is getting more complicated on the upcoming Google Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet with their taskbar. The two additions to Google’s lineup likely are why the company decided to redo its gesture navigation tutorial on phones, which is now also accessible via system settings.

Nothing is astounding or groundbreaking about the new tutorials, but they are nice to look at, and it’s good to have them in system settings in case you need a refresher.

Android 14 continues testing predictive back gestures

Google activated predictive back gestures for the handful of apps that support them, like Google News and the system settings. When you activate predictive back gestures in the developer options, you see previews of which screen you’ll navigate to next. This works with views within the same app, across different apps, and from apps to the home screen.

It doesn’t look like predictive back gestures have made the pass for the stable launch. You still have to turn them on manually in developer options. This means it will likely take more time until more apps support them.

Android 14 lets you force a transparent navigation bar

Hidden within the developer options, Google added a toggle that allows anyone to force a transparent nav bar in any app. This solves one of our longest-standing issues with navigation on Android: inconsistencies between apps that haven’t had specific color tuning from developers. There’s always the chance this disappears before a final build, but hiding it from most users seems like a positive sign that it could be here to stay.

Android 14 focuses on big screens and cross-device use cases

Google continues its quest to make Android and its app ecosystem a perfect match for all screen sizes, whether on smartphones, foldables, tablets, or Chromebooks. The push for big-screen optimization started with Android 12L and was further enhanced with Android 13. Things aren’t supposed to be different with Android 14. The company is rehashing some of its progress and pointing developers to its best practices and new classes that allow them to build for different form factors.

Google says it updated its large screen app quality checklists, which give developers an easy way to gauge how well their products will perform across different devices. There are also new example layouts for different kinds of apps, which are supposed to inspire developers to create similarly adaptive layouts and apps that make the best use of available screen real estate.

One novel way this could manifest is improved support for keyboards and touchpads, which would benefit tablets with keyboard cases and laptops that run Android apps. According to findings from Android expert Mishaal Rahman, writing for XDA, Android 14 might allow you to remap modifier keys like Ctrl, Alt, and Meta (the button used for the Windows menu). You might be able to map more commands for different system-level options to keyboards, like access to the Recents screen, mute, and zoom.

Get Android 14 right now

Android 14 is available for download for everyone with a Pixel phone and is rolling out to other Android phones. If your phone isn’t updated, go to system settings > System > System update to see if it is available for download. Most other supported phones have the update, but it may take a little longer for some brands.

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