Android 13 is out today for Google Pixel smartphones

Today, Google publishes Android 13 for Google Pixel smartphones, after months of developer previews and betas. This is an update that tweaks many of the changes that Android 12 brought, while also introducing a ton of useful little features across the board that aim to improve privacy, security, and usability. Along with the update, the company also announced that Android 13 source code is now available in AOSP.

What’s new in Android 13?

Android 13 has a tonne new things, though many of them are smaller, incremental improvements. There are lots of small improvements across the board that touch on different parts of the Android system, so here are a few of our favorites!

Application Notification Requests

Android 13 application notification request

Apps can no longer just send you notifications without asking, and they will have to ask for notification permission. You can then deny access to an app if you don’t want it to send you notifications, reducing the risk of unwanted spam. Be careful which apps you deny notification permissions!

Application language preferences

For those who may be multilingual, in-app language preferences might just be the best Android 13 addition for your uses. You can choose a specific language only for some particular applications. For example, suppose your native language is German and your phone is in German. However, maybe an app’s translations into German are weird or incorrect, it might be easier to set the app’s language to another language you understand, and the translations are more likely to be correct.

Copy and paste images, text, videos and URLs and paste them on your tablet

You can now copy content, including images, text, videos, and URLs, and paste it onto your tablet. This can be used for photo creation purposes, or even just to quickly and easily transfer a URL from one device to another.

New media controls

Android 13 has a few key updates for your media controls. These media controls are still located between the quick settings menu and the notification panel, but the widget itself is much larger now. It also has a wavy progress bar now. Cool!

More granular permissions for media file access

Currently, all apps on your Android device can access files on your phone’s storage with the READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission. This permission, however, will allow apps to access all kinds of media files on the storage. For example, an audio player application will have access to your photos with this permission, which is completely unnecessary. But Google is changing that by introducing three new permissions with Android 13:

  • READ_MEDIA_IMAGES (for images and photos)
  • READ_MEDIA_VIDEO (for videos)
  • READ_MEDIA_AUDIO (for audio files)

If a particular application requests access to multiple types of media files, a single dialog box will appear to grant both permissions, like this:

Android 13 beta 1 media access request

More Material You color options

Android 13 adds several new colors and theme options to the Wallpaper and Style app on Pixel devices. You can now choose from four pages of wallpaper colors and base colors, bringing the total number of wallpaper colors and base colors to 16. In contrast, the Wallpaper app screen and style previously only offered four colors each.

Photo Selection API

The new Photo Picker API is an extension of Google’s already existing document picker. It works by leveraging the Android system to select documents on the device which are then selectively shared with the app in use, rather than the app having wider storage access to files on the device itself . This way an app can access photos or videos on your phone without having wider access to the rest of your phone. Photo Picker is also rolling out to older Android devices via a Google Play Services update.

What’s new?

What we’ve shown above isn’t all that’s new, but these are some of our favorite features so far. We have documented everything you can expect to find in Android 13 alreadyand it covers everything we found in every beta and developer preview.

Which Google Pixel phones are being upgraded to Android 13?

  • Google Pixel 4/4XL
  • Google Pixel 4a/4a 5G
  • Google Pixel 5/5a 5G
  • Google Pixel 6/6 Pro/6a

If for some reason you don’t receive the update after it starts rolling out, or if you don’t want to wait for Google to roll out the update, you can install it manually. If you have unlocked your device’s bootloader, you can manually install the OTA image or the factory image of the device, or use Google’s web-based Android Flash Tool to automate the process. In all cases, download android 13 image for your deviceand then you can install it too.

When will other phones get the Android 13 update?

Since Google’s major OEM partners have already had preliminary access to the source code, their engineers have already started the OS build process to add custom features and UI changes. Small OEMs, independent developers, and other entities without pre-release access can view the Android 13 source code today to analyze or rebase their work on the new version. Unfortunately, we can’t offer a definitive timeline for when each OEM will release an Android 13 update for their devices, but we can list some of the devices we believe will receive the update soon, depending on whether a beta the update is already available.

Here are the devices that have received an Android 13 developer preview or public beta and are therefore expected to receive the stable update soon:

  • Samsung Galaxy S22/S22 Plus/S22 Ultra
  • OnePlus 10 Pro
  • Asus Zenfone 8
  • Lenovo P12 Pro Tab
  • Nokia X20
  • OPPO Find X5/Find X5 Pro/Find N
  • Realme GT 2 Pro
  • Sharp Aquos Sense6
  • Tecno Camon 19 Pro 5G
  • Vivo X80 Series
  • Xiaomi 12/12 Pro/Pad 5
  • ZTE Axon 40 Ultra

Of course, we don’t know exactly how close each OEM is to releasing a stable update for these devices, but we do know that some are. very close.

Samsung, as always, does its own thing. The company announced its One UI 5 beta some time ago, but then randomly dropped the beta in some countries without any warning. The first beta of One UI 5 contains a ton of exciting changes that we described in our practical work.

In Google’s announcement post, the company confirms that devices from “Samsung Galaxy, Asus, HMD (Nokia phones), iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, Vivo, Xiaomi and more” will receive the update “later this year”, although it’s unclear whether this refers to a stable update or a beta.

Looking for Android 14 and Beyond

With this release, Google will now aim for Android 14 – and beyond. We don’t really know what to expect, other than that his codename seems to be “Upside-down cake“. It’s not yet clear if the company will be working on a point release a la Android 12L, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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