Android 13 Preview: What is new?

Following the release of Android 12L Beta 3 early this year, Google has followed it up with the release of the first developer preview of Android 13.

Keep in mind though that this is only a first look at the upcoming OS, and it is largely intended for developers. The first build that will be primed to be released to a wider audience should arrive in April, with the final release of Android 13 scheduled for July or August at the latest.

Taking a look at Google’s timeline for the release of the new Android version, a second developer preview is expected in March, followed by a beta build in April and a different one in May. This will then be followed up by two builds with “Platform Stability” in June and July.

What’s new in Android 13?

As is often the case these days, privacy and security have to take centre stage, and Android 13 is no different.

The first introduction by Android 13 is a new system picker that will be a standard and optimized way of sharing local and cloud-based images securely. What this essentially does is that it lets you share images through an app, say WhatsApp, without the app needing permission to view all media on the device. This will also extend to picking videos and photos too.

Google says that this feature will eventually make its way to “more Android users” through Google Play updates for all devices running Android 11 and higher. Android Go users, however, will be exempted from this group of users.

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The second exciting feature expected with Android 13 is that apps will be able to discover and connect to nearby devices via Wi-Fi without the need for location permission. This update mainly targets apps like Xender that required both location and Wi-Fi access in order to connect two or more devices. A new runtime permission has been introduced in Android 13 which gives these apps a new way of connecting two devices without requiring location permission from either of the devices.

Further, showing their ambitions in Material You, the new Android design language introduced last year with Android 12, Android 13 extends the dynamically adjusting engine to all app icons rather than only Google’s as it was in Android 12. It is important to note that this will not work in an app if the developer has not provided compatible icons. Google further notes that these custom icons will first be only available on Pixel devices, but they are working with different OEMs to bring them to more phones.

Other smaller changes that the first developer preview of Android 13 brings are;

  • Per-app languages –¬†Android 13 makes it possible for bilingual users to use one language for their system and another within specific apps.
  • Hyphenation –¬†Google claims to increase the performance of hyphenation in Android 13 by 200% compared to Android 12.
  • Google Play system updates – Android 13 introduces a system that can send Android updates to any phone regardless of version, manufacturer, etc.

Finally, Google has also reiterated its stand on large screen devices by asking developers to take more consideration for them when developing their apps. This together with the release of Android 12L that targeted large-screen devices shows that the tech giant has started taking tablets and other large-screen devices like foldables more seriously.

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at Twitter @KarisNaftaly