Google Secretly Adds External Monitor Support to the Pixel 8

Key Takeaways

  • Google is testing external monitor support for Pixel 8 with Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 update for screen mirroring and desktop-like interface.
  • While Android devices have native support for external monitors, Google inexplicably disabled USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode on Pixel devices.
  • Pixel 8 owners can try out screen mirroring by installing Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 update, suitable for average users without major bugs or flaws.

Google appears to be testing external monitor support for the Pixel 8 smartphone. The Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 update allows you to connect a Pixel 8 to an external display for screen mirroring and a desktop-like interface.

Technically speaking, all Android devices include native support for external monitors. This is accomplished through USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode—just connect your phone or tablet to a monitor via USB-C cable (or a USB-C to HDMI adapter), and the phone’s contents will be mirrored on-screen. Android even has a desktop mode that mimics Windows, though it’s fairly rudimentary when compared to the proprietary DeX interface on Samsung devices.

However, for some unexplained reason, Google has disabled USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode on all Pixel devices. If you want to mirror your Pixel’s screen to a larger display, you have to use the Cast protocol, which is far from ideal. (You can also use DisplayLink if you’re willing to buy an expensive adapter.)

The Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 update takes things in the opposite direction. As discovered by Mishaal Rahman at Android Authority, Pixel 8 devices running the latest beta will ask to enter screen mirroring mode when plugged into an external monitor. It may also be possible to force the Pixel 8 into desktop mode, though there are several flags that currently prevent the phone from doing so.

As for why Google is testing this feature—we don’t know. The company may be testing Android desktop mode for the upcoming Pixel 9, which will launch alongside the Android 15 update. Or, Google may have realized that the Cast protocol is a lackluster option for screen mirroring. There’s also the possibility that this is a mistake, or that Google is testing new functionality for the Pixel Tablet.

In any case, screen mirroring has become a common feature on smartphones. Even the iPhone supports USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode. And Samsung’s DeX interface, which turns Galaxy phones into desktop computers, is more popular than ever. Google is late to the party and would only benefit by enabling this technology in the Pixel 9.

Pixel 8 owners who want to test screen mirroring can install the Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 update. This is not a Developer release, nor is it a test of a major Android update. Therefore, the Android 14 QRP3 Beta 2 update is suitable for average users and should work without any strange flaws or bugs.

Source: Android Authority

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