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Home >> Android 13 – The latest features and updates Google’s OS

Android 13 – The latest features and updates Google’s OS

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The most exciting thing about a major Android update is being able to follow a predictable pattern of releases to get a taste of all the new features. Google’s Android 12 update marked the biggest visual redesign of the operating system since Android 5 Lollipop. The new design philosophy along with an exhaustive list of new features makes Android 12 look and feel radically different from previous iterations.

Android 13 remains largely similar to the previous version in terms of overall aesthetics, but there’s a ton of new stuff under the hood. It has been in beta for a very long time, with each new version adding smaller features and improvements to various elements of the Android system. Android 13 has officially gone gold and is now available for all supported Pixel devices and some other non-Pixel phones. If you want all the Android 13 information in one place, then you have come to the right page. Here’s everything you need to know about Android 13!

What are Androids 1 to 13 called?

For those of you who are curious, these have been the dessert name (internal or public) of all the

Android versions so far:

ANDROID

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Android 1.5 Cupcake

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Android 1.6 Donut

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Android 2.0 Eclair

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Android 2.2 Froyo

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Android 2.3 Gingerbread

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Android 3.0 Honeycomb

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Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

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Android 4.4 KitKat

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Android 5.0 Lollipop

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Android 6.0 Marshmallow

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Android 7.0: Nougat

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Android 8.0 Oreo

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Android 9 Pie

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Android 10 Quince Tart

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Android 11 Red Velvet Cake

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Android 12 Snow Cone

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Android 13 Tiramisu

What is Android 13?

The first developer preview for Android 13 arrived in early February, giving us an early look at Google’s next major release. Since then, the company has dropped either a developer preview or beta every month, with the final release arriving in August. With this update, Android 13 is rolling out to the latest Pixel phones, with models older than the Pixel 4 and 4a being left out, and even those aren’t guaranteed to get any updates after the October 2022 security patch.

Android 13 was expected to launch earlier than other recent Android releases after the first developer preview came out in February, and in the end, things turned out that way. For a while, it looked like Google might delay Android 13 until September, but with the August 15 release already, this is indeed one of the earliest Android launches in recent memory.

All the Android 13 features you need to know about!

More Material You color schemes and ‘cinematic’ wallpapers come on the latest version of Android

Android 13 gives us a selection of new palettes for extracting colors from the wallpaper. In addition to the existing so-called “tonal spot” colors, Google gives users and Android manufacturers access to three other methods:

  • Vibrant: Differs ever so slightly in supplementary accents.
  • Expressive: Offers a wider range of colors that apparently extend to colors not seen in the background.
  • Spritz: A desaturated, nearly monochromatic theme.

We have the details and samples on this in our exclusive coverage, and you can get your hands on these themes in the form of 16 new color extraction options in your wallpaper picker on your Pixel running Android 13.

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Android 12 vs. Android 13. Note the scrollable wallpaper colors section with four more pages full of color options.

Android 13 notifications are now opt-in

Android has historically been better at managing and displaying notifications than iOS. Still, there’s one thing we appreciate in Apple’s ecosystem. Applications need to explicitly ask you for permission before they’re allowed to send notifications.

Android 13 finally follows suit and will not allow apps to send you notifications when you install them unless you give them permission explicitly. Note that if you upgrade from Android 12, this only affects newly installed apps, so it doesn’t break existing functionality.

Like most other permissions, the notification prompt will pop up when an app first runs and requests the POST_NOTIFICATIONS permission. Your options will be binary, with you being able to either allow or deny notifications altogether. You can’t select specific notification channels, but maybe that’s something coming in a future Android release.

Android 13 supports per-app language options

As we exclusively covered even before the launch of the developer preview, Android 13 introduced an option that allows you to set your preferred language on a per-app basis. That might not sound too significant if you’re someone who can confidently use all features of an app in English, living in the U.S. This isn’t how things are for many people, though, with billions of us living bilingual or even multilingual lives. Android phones force a much more monolingual life on people, though, with the language selected for the system usually also applied to all apps.

First two images: Per-app language settings on Android 13 DP2. Last two: Missing per-app language settings on A13 Beta 1 and stable.

The per-app language feature first went live in the Android 13 betas but has since been watered down for the stable release. Instead of forcing other supported languages on any app on your phone, developers need to add a bit of code to specify that their app supports per-app languages.

Assistant gestures make their return with Android 13

Gesture navigation may be the future of interacting with your phone. Still, many people prefer the three-button navigation of old, whether for accessibility reasons or just because they’re used to it. Those who do can now optionally enjoy using Assistant via a long-press on the Home button again.

A new toggle in the navigation settings allows you to select your preference, so you don’t need to press and hold the Power button anymore. Similarly, Google is bringing back the swipe-up-from-the-corner gesture for Assistant when you use gesture navigation. This can also be set up from the same place in System Settings.

Auto-theming icons

OS made significant strides in terms of how you could theme the look of the interface with wallpapers and colors. Now, Android 13 builds on that with auto-theming icons, which means that app icons on the home screen will change their color automatically to match the wallpaper.
To use this feature, go to Settings, tap Wallpaper and style, then make sure the Themed icons toggle switch is set to on.

Quicker access to the QR code scanner

QR codes grew in popularity as a way of accessing and presenting information without having to touch anything.

Android has been reading QR codes for a long time, but Android 13 makes its QR code reader a little easier to access. Open Quick Settings with a two-finger swipe from the top of the screen, then tap the pen icon (lower right) to make changes, and you’ll see there’s a Scan QR code option that you can drag into the Quick Settings panel.

We exclusively covered that Android 13 could get quick settings tile for a QR code scanner, including some kind of lock screen functionality, and that has turned out to be true. In Android 13 DP1, we got our first glimpse at the QR scanner quick settings toggle in the notification shade, though it was grayed out and inaccessible. This has changed over the betas and is now live as a quick toggle in Android 13. It even works on the lock screen when you pull down your notification shade. Since it’s tailor-made to scan QR codes, it’s faster than relying on Google Lens or the camera app.

Integrated Fast Pair

Fast Pair is a great feature. This allows you to quickly pair your phone with accessories such as Bluetooth headsets. Instead of adding them manually, your phone will simply notify you that something is nearby and ask you if you want to pair with it. In Android 13, Fast Pair is built right into the OS, which should make it easier to use.

UWB support

Ultra-Wideband (UWB) is a new technology that makes it possible for a mobile device to act as a car key and as a locator for lost devices, and it helps improve both NFC and Bluetooth connections.

The one previous issue with UWB support is that the device must have had a built-in UWB antenna, which the Pixel 6 Pro does. With the release of Android 13, there’s a new hardware abstraction layer that adds this functionality, so all Android devices can implement UWB.

Bluetooth Low-Energy Audio

Android 13 is the first version of Android to introduce fully-fleshed-out support for Bluetooth Low-Energy Audio. Users will experience lower energy usage while still enjoying the same quality of audio, the ability to simultaneously stream to multiple headphones and speakers, and full support for Google’s new Bluetooth hearing aid protocol. This means hearing aids will enjoy more reliable connections to Android than with previous incarnations.

Android 13 offers Bluetooth LE (low energy) Audio and Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3) support. In a nutshell, that means reduced power consumption and better audio quality for wireless headphones, earbuds, and other devices that support it.

Clipboard auto-clear feature

Another interesting feature that didn’t make it to the official announcement post is the new clipboard auto-clear. Android 13 brings a new clipboard auto-clear feature to delete the primary clip from the global clipboard after a set amount of time, much like Gboard. What’s more interesting is that this new feature in Android 13 also gives you an option to change the duration after which the clip is cleared.

Additional minor changes in Android 13

There are a handful of small changes in the new OS version that are worth rounding up.

  • Flashlight: The quick tap shortcut initially added to Pixels in Android 12 is getting support for turning the flashlight on and off.
  • Privacy: Last year’s update brought about some significant privacy improvements, and Android 13 is keeping the momentum rolling with 7-day views in the Privacy dashboard.
  • Haptics: Silent mode disabled nearly all haptic feedback in DP2. A controversial change and one that has been undone in Beta 1. There are also a handful of new vibration settings, though, right now, they don’t seem to do much.
  • Big screen changes: Android 13 Beta 1 has also introduced the familiar row of intelligent app suggestions for the drawer on big screen devices, along with a new app drawer shortcut.
  • Smart home controls: It brings back the option to control your smart home devices without unlocking your screen first.
  • Display and font settings: Google has pushed its display and font size options together under one menu, and the screen saver picker has an all-new look.
  • Screen recording: Android’s touch indicators when recording have returned after they went missing in 12L.
  • Split-screen: A split-screen feature from 12L lets you pull up two apps at once in multiple windows from notifications.
  • Hidden features: There’s a whole slew of hidden features, including an automatic dark mode and a new placement for the app drawer’s search box, helping round out a substantial release.
  • exFAT support: It’s literally years in the making, but if you’ve been dying for exFAT support on Android, this latest upgrade will finally make it a reality.
  • Navigation bar: While Google isn’t changing its gestures system, it did add some thickness to the bar along the bottom of the display. It looks a lot like iOS.

Which mobiles will get Android 13?

Many mobile devices are already confirmed to get Android 13, while others are likely to receive the update but are not yet confirmed. It’s likely that premium mobiles will get first dibs and mid-range to budget models will follow.

Google’s Pixel 4 and upwards have already got the latest release. Other brands will include Samsung, Nokia, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Vivo, Poco, Motorola, TCL, iQOO and Asus. You can find out more about which handsets will get the update in this Android 13 phones list.

If you’ve got a Pixel phone, check to see if it’s eligible for Android 13 by going into Settings > System > System Update. If it shows Android 13 as a new version, you can download and install it in around 5 minutes.

Android 13 Conclusions

Android 13 has some important features and some interesting changes to say the least, but ultimately it’s a very minor update. Anyway, I appreciate Android 13. I especially like the new runtime notification permissions, though I wonder how it will shape up in the long run. The photo picker is also great, but since it’s not mandatory yet, I’m not sure how many developers will adopt it.

It’s good that Google is taking a year off from major OS changes since Android 12 was such a big deal. I suspected that Android 13 would be a bit of a disappointment, given that Android 12 had a few things that Google needed to address, especially the bugs and shortcomings with Material You.

So it might not be the most exciting update you’ll ever see, but I strongly recommend you update to Android 13 as soon as it becomes available for your phone. (For example, OxygenOS 13 is out and Samsung has a OneUI 5 beta to try out.) In fact, if you’re on a Pixel or end up buying one of Google’s upcoming Pixel 7 phones you’ve probably already made the jump. how little drama an update of this magnitude would cause.

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