Android 13 beta: My first impressions

After installing the first beta version of Android 13, Jack Wallen was very impressed with what Google did with the operating system.

Photo: quietbits/Shutterstock

The first beta version of Android 13 is now available to the general public. I installed it on my Pixel 5 to get an idea of ​​what’s coming for the next version of the platform. I knew, going into this, that Android 13 would feel like a huge disappointment after how big a difference it was from the previous iteration. It wasn’t as if Google was going to pull another article on you to push the platform further.

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Instead, I assumed Android 13 would feel like the smallest step forward for Google’s mobile operating system, and I wasn’t wrong. Much of what’s coming to the latest Android upgrade focuses primarily on the backend, where users won’t see much of a difference. The truth is that the difference between Android 12 and 13 is almost impossible to tell…unless you pay close attention.

Android 13 is a new level of smoothness

The first thing I noticed with Android 13 was that everything seemed much smoother. It probably won’t be noticeable if you haven’t been using the platform for a long time, but with Android 13 the animations are very smooth. Everything seems to flow easily on the screen like a liquid. There is no flickering, stuttering or skipping when navigating the UI at any level. For me, this is a huge step forward. I’m running Android 13 on a less powerful device (compared to my Pixel 6 Pro running Android 12), and 13 looks more polished than 12 (which was already a huge step forward from 11).

This should bode well for anyone looking to see an improvement in the Android visuals department.

Dive into the Android 13 test

Besides this initial fascination with the smoothness of the user interface, the next thing I noticed was the addition of a quick tile for the QR code reader (Figure A).

Figure A

It has been a long time, but it has finally appeared in Android 13.
It has been a long time, but it has finally appeared in Android 13.

You no longer have to go through the assistant or install a third-party app to scan a QR code.

The next thing I noticed would be a very welcome addition for privacy lovers (which should mean everyone). When you install a new app, the first time you open it, you decide if the app can send you notifications (Figure B).

Figure B

A step forward in Android 13 for those concerned about privacy.
A step forward in Android 13 for those concerned about privacy.

Although you can already control which apps have access to the notification system, being able to configure this on each app’s first launch makes this process considerably easier (and easy not to forget). Kudos to the developers for adding this important privacy feature.

There is a fun little addition that can be found in the media playback card inside the Notification Shade. While a song is playing, you will see a zigzag indicator showing how much media is playing (Figure C).

Figure C

Sometimes it's the little things in Android 13 that make you smile.
Sometimes it’s the little things in Android 13 that make you smile.

Regarding the look of Android, one of the useful updates is the ability to adjust the screen and text size at the same time. If you go to Settings | Width | Display and text size, you can easily change the font and display size (figure d).

figure d

Changing width and font size is now handled in one convenient place in Android 13.
Changing width and font size is now handled in one convenient place in Android 13.

The only thing that has been missing is your phone’s search feature that is configured in the home settings on Android 12. This option no longer appears in Android 13, and I’m not sure if this option remains or where to find it. In Android 12, you can enable/disable Shortcuts, People, Settings, and Pixel Tips in search results. Android 13? not much.

Speaking of home settings, if you open this section in Android 13, you’ll notice that “suggestions” are back (Figure E).

Figure E

Suggestions are based on the most recently used apps and the most used apps and actions in Android 13.
Suggestions are based on the most recently used apps and the most used apps and actions in Android 13.

You can enable suggestions in all apps menu and/or on the home screen.

The new clipboard editor is one of the coolest features I’ve found in Android 13. Let me set the stage: You visit a website and you want to copy/paste a URL. However, when you paste the URL, you’ll notice that it includes a long string of random characters that probably includes information you don’t want to share. With Android 13, you can actually edit the contents of the clipboard.

After copying the URL, you will see a small indicator at the bottom of the screen that includes an edit button (shape and).

shape and

Editing the contents of what you just copied to Android 13 clipboard is just a click away.
Editing the contents of what you just copied to Android 13 clipboard is just a click away.

Hit the edit button, and you can then edit the contents before actually copying the original.

Android 13 Prediction: See exciting additional features

Well, Android 13 is not going to be a huge release packed with tons of new features to wow and excite users; However, everything that is done under the hood, along with some new features that were revealed with the first beta, makes me really excited about this release. Android 12 was really the best version of the platform so far. The fact that Google is adding some serious touches to what Android has already made for one update is very exciting.

I think every Android user will be happy with what’s coming. And since this is only the first beta, you can be sure there’s more excitement ahead.

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