The next big iteration It’s safe to say that a lot is happening in the Android world right now. While most OEMs have just started rolling out Android 12 updates to their devices, Google is not only beta testing its tablet-focused Android 12L update but also simultaneously working on Android 13 behind the scenes. The company has now released the first developer preview of Android 13, giving us an early glimpse at the features that could make their way to the stable release later this year. What’s more, it looks like we might see a stable launch much earlier this year as compared to the last.
Below, we look at what you can expect from the forthcoming major Android version release.
Android 13: Name and release date
Before Android 10, Google named its OS versions after sweet treats. Although it has switched to a number publically, it often still refers to versions as confectionery internally. Thanks to the first developer preview, we know the code name for Android 13 is “Tiramisu.” This is the first time in a long while we’ve seen Google be so upfront with the code name.
As for Android 13’s release date, Google has shared a schedule. Judging from that schedule, we expect at least two developer previews, at least four betas, and a stable launch sometime in August 2022. However, things could change significantly between now and then, so don’t make too many assumptions just yet.
Android 13: Design changes
Android 12 brought one of the operating system’s most significant UI revamps in years with Material You. The new interface enables more personable customization options, from wallpaper-based color palette controls to more intuitive animations. Android 13 does not appear to change things as radically, but Google is still going to bring new features and design tweaks.
Google shared the screenshots above when it launched the first developer preview. It appears the 2022 version of Android will allow you to theme your icons just like you theme the rest of the operating system with Android 12.
Unfortunately, there are two caveats here. The first is that this will only be available on Pixel devices, at least when it first launches. The second is that this will only work with apps in which the developer has included a monochrome icon for Material You to use.
In other words, don’t expect a totally robust and complete theming experience when Android 13 first drops. It might take a while before this is truly as automatic as Google envisions.
More Material You theming options
According to a rumor based on leaked code, Android 13 could extend the available color-theming options by offering four new palettes relating to specific shades or complementary hues.
These experiences include TONAL_SPOT, VIBRANT, EXPRESSIVE, and SPRITZ. While the first two options are strikingly similar, the latter two are a stark departure from Android 12’s current theming system. ‘Expressive’ seemingly leans on colors not directly sourced from the wallpaper, while ‘Spritz’ opts for a more grayscale, neutral selection.
This perhaps isn’t quite the granular control many users are looking for, but it’s a start. Better yet, we may see this feature debut on the upcoming stable version of Android 12L, but there’s an extremely slim chance of this happening.
Alternative lock screen clock setup
Android 13 could let users toggle between two clock styles on the lock screen. Per a screenshot published by XDA in an extensive first-look, users would be able to select a single line layout or the current double line layout.
Android 13: Functionality improvements
Android 12 introduced several new utilities, including baked-in scrolling screenshot support and one-handed mode, smarter auto-rotate settings, and an App Search feature. But what could Android 13 bring?
More intuitive QR scanner support
QR code scanning is needlessly clumsy on Android, but this could be a thing of the past. There’s a quick toggle button in the first developer preview that suggests an easily accessible QR scanner will be present. However, the button currently does nothing. It’s unclear what Google has in mind here, but it does seem to be working on ways to make this an easier experience for users.
Native Bluetooth LE Audio support
Wireless audio could get a welcome boost with Android 13. According to a pair of AOSP commits spotted by Mishaal Rahman, the next version of Android could be the first with full, baked-in support for Bluetooth LE Audio and the Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3). The codec is a pretty big deal, touting lower power usage and improved audio quality across supported devices.
Tap to transfer media controls
A surprise addition could bring smarter media sharing across multiple devices. According to leaked details from “an anonymous and trusted source,” Android Police uncovered a tap-to-transfer (TTT) system that’ll allow users to pass on media controls to other devices.
It’s unclear how the feature may work, but it would likely use short-range wireless tech, like NFC or UWB. Of course, that alone limits this feature’s compatibility with current devices. There’s no evidence in code that Google’s working on such a feature, so take this with a pinch of salt until we learn more.
Silent mode is truly silent
When you set your phone to silent, it should be truly silent. However, vibrations and haptics still happen in this mode. In Android 13, though, silent mode disables everything, giving you true silence while using your phone.
Reworked audio output selector
Android 13 could rework the audio output picker, according to an Android Police report. An unnamed source provided screenshots of the feature, which seems to be a purely aesthetic redesign to better fit the Material You scheme.
‘Panlingual’ per-app language settings
If you’re multilingual, this could be the best addition to Android 13. The first developer preview includes per-app language toggles. This would allow users to set specific languages for specific apps, separate from the system setting.
Secondary profiles for NFC payments
According to commits made back in July 2021 (h/t XDA), Android 13 could allow multiple users on a device to set up their own NFC payments service on their respective profiles.
Privacy and security are ever important for Google. With every new Android release, the company makes the operating system more secure and more private, with more user control over the things that matter most. Android 13 is no exception.
Private photo picker
When you share a document with an Android app, the document picker that pops up is pretty secure. It doesn’t allow the app to have access to all your documents, just the ones you select. The photo picker, however, hasn’t been this secure. In the new version of Android, though, that’s changing. Check it out in action below.
The Android 13 photo picker will be baked directly into Android itself, which will make selecting both local and cloud storage photos universal across applications. To make this even better news, you won’t need Android 13 to see this feature: Google will push this to all Android 11 and Android 12 phones using the Google Play Store (with the exception of Android Go-based phones).
If an app needs to locate nearby Wi-Fi devices in Android 12, it likely needs location permission. This is needlessly insecure. In Android 13, Google is introducing the new NEARBY_WIFI_DEVICES runtime permission, which gives those apps a new option that doesn’t require needless location access.
Android 13: Under the hood upgrades
Current details suggest Google will make a few tweaks to Android 13 beneath the skin. Permissions handling and battery consumption may, once again, receive specific nip-tucks.
Notification runtime permission
Android 13 could add a new runtime permission to make notifications an opt-in experience for all apps (h/t XDA). Interestingly, this would allow users to control notifications, similar to how Android 12 commands microphone and camera access. This would greatly benefit those who seek overarching sway over rowdy apps.
The Android Resource Economy
Finally, one rumor suggests better power optimization could be on the cards thanks to TARE, or The Android Resource Economy.
According once again to XDA, the feature is reportedly a more complicated, credit-based power management system that allows or disallows tasks requested by apps based on how low a device’s battery is. It sounds pretty complex and there’s simply not enough data to explain it entirely, but it could be a feature to watch out for in the coming weeks.
Those are all the Android 13 features we know about so far. Are you excited about Google’s next OS version? What are you most excited to see? Be sure to let us know in the comments.