Android 13 Preview: nirvana

This preview is based on the public beta build of Android 13 on the Pixel 6 Pro.

Android 13 Tiramisu is the latest sweet version in Google’s long-running series of software updates, and while the number “13” is usually associated with misfortune, Android 13 is a far cry from that. So far, it’s being shaped as an evolutionary update rather than a revolutionary update to a mature and complete operating system found in nirvana.

Supposedly, way more coming Android 13 features can be announced at Google I/O 2022, which will take place on May 11, 2022, as it is Google’s favorite place to showcase the latest developments in the software section.

Android 13 release date

Android 13 is currently out as a beta, but only for Pixel devices. As mentioned, the next version of the OS will definitely be explored in the future Google I/O Developer Summit on May 11, but the platform will reach stability by June and officially release for Pixel phones sometime in August or September.

What is Android 13 called?

After a while when Android only had a numeric label, Android 12 Snow Cone kind of brought back those cool candy names. Android 13 continues the tradition with its internal codename “Tiramisu”, the delicious Italian dessert, and nothing will stop Android fans from calling it that way in the future.

What phones will get Android 13?

Android 13 will reach large swaths of Android devices in the future, but as usual, Pixel devices get the latest version of Android first. In the case of Android 13, the supported Google Pixel phones are Pixel 4 4 XL, 4A, 4a 5G, Pixel 5 Pixel 5a Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phone. Sorry, older pixel owners, you’ve come to the end of your hardware line.

When will my Android phone get Android 13?

Judging from our historical experience with extensive Android versions and also considering the latest version from each manufacturer, we can anticipate when the flagships of each manufacturer could get their hands on the next version of Android, with the manufacturer’s wrapping on its head, along the way.

Here’s when manufacturers brought Android 12 to some of their best phones and when they can release the appropriate Android 13 update:

What are the changes in Android 13?

So far, not many changes have been made to the Android 13 beta, and the reasons for this can stem from two logical conclusions.

The first is the fact that we are very early in the development of Android 13 and that Google is waiting for the Google I/O dev conference on May 11th to showcase everything new that will eventually lead to Android 13. Launching the beta version months ago, allows Google to quickly launch the beta with All new features shortly after the official announcement of Android 13 (or in the ballpark for two days).

The second reason could be the relative maturity of Android and the lack of any major new features. Yes, the lack of new features in the beta version may mean that there will be no major features in the latest version of Android 13 either. While this is less likely, there is still a chance.

Anyway, let’s move on to the actual changes in the current state of Android 13 beta…and it’s not many.

On the interface front, we got a redesigned wallpaper picker which now lets you preview available wallpapers right from the home screen by long pressing on an empty space on the screen.

There are also more color combinations available to customize the interface. As a reminder, Android 12 introduced smart interface themes that extract primary colors from the background and allow you to paint menu backgrounds and toggle with specific colors, but the feature was a bit lackluster and only gave you four options. Now, in Android 13, you can have up to 16 different combinations of pastel colors that apply to menus, wallpapers, themed icons, and other premium interface elements.

These tokens are one of the biggest features of the new interface. In the words of Google, “App icons in supported Android launchers are colored to inherit user-selected wallpaper coloration and other themes.”

Another novelty is easier detection of quick tiles for a custom application. When an app offers custom quick tiles that can be placed in the quick tile menu, a relevant dialog will prompt the user to enable this functionality. It is definitely a useful add-on for Android as many users are still largely unaware that they can add custom app tiles to their quick settings menus.

Multilingual users will be happy to know that Android 13 now has related APIs that allow separate apps to have a different language than their device’s main language setting. For example, an Android device can be set to Hindi, but separate apps can be set to English.

The new photo picker is also one of the most important new features in Android 13. Inspired by iOS and with the aim of improving privacy, the new photo picker allows users to choose specific photos when a specific app asks them without allowing access to their entire photo library. This is in stark contrast to the usual behavior of Android’s photo picker, which by default gives apps access to all of your photos.

When it comes to privacy and permissions, there are a lot of improvements. Android 13 will finally allow the permission to be automatically revoked by the system or user. This will “kill” the permissions previously granted to an app for one reason or another, and has the potential to dramatically improve privacy and security.

Apps targeting Android 13 will also have three new micro-media permissions to request instead of the current summary external storage access dialog. These three are “READ_MEDIA_IMAGES”, “READ_MEDIA_AUDIO” and “READ_MEDIA_VIDEO”. Speaking of permissions, there is also a new permission that targets body sensors and their background in collecting data.

Bluetooth LE audio is now part of Android 13, allowing for high-quality audio transmission without affecting battery life too much.

Does Android 13 improve performance?

There is a possibility that the latest version of Android 13 will perform better than Android 12, but for now, at this point in the beta build, it’s hard to pinpoint any noticeable gains in terms of overall performance. On the contrary, given the beta state of Android 13, it is normal to expect low performance as well as a lot of bugs.

Android 13: Verdict

At this point in time, there is not much to be excited about aside from the potential for major changes. Android 13 is shaping up to be one of those evolutionary updates that silently improve things under the hood without repainting the entire car. And frankly, you probably don’t have to at the moment – the material language you’re designing is still fresh and has a lot of potential ahead of it.

Android as a whole is in great shape at the moment, and the fact that there are no major new features coming with the next version of the popular operating system can only attest to its maturity and relative richness of features. Still, hoping that Google will once again skew things in such a way that an otherwise uninteresting Android update would generate a necessary amount of hype.

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