After several months of beta testing, Google Android 13 is publicly available to Pixel phone users. The OS arrives earlier in 2022 than Android’s typical fall release, and is an iterative update building on the foundation laid with Android 12. This includes a much more elaborate and customizable Material You, convenient multitasking tools, cross-compatibility with Google Chromebooks and tablets, per-app language customization, photo selection enhancements, and expanded privacy and security features. Android 13 isn’t a groundbreaking operating system like Android 12, but adding more polish to last year’s excellent feature set isn’t a bad thing.
How to get Android 13
At the time of this writing, Android 13 is available only for a limited number of phones: specifically Google’s Pixel line. A Google blog post explains that the update is scheduled for other Android devices, including Samsung Galaxy, Asus, Nokia phones, iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Realme, Sharp, Sony, vivo, Xiaomi, and more, sometime later in 2022. If you have a Pixel phone, check if it’s eligible for the Android 13 update by heading to Settings > System > System update. If you see Android 13 as a new version, you are ready to download and install the operating system.
The process is relatively quick and painless, as long as your phone is up to date with the latest software. Downloading and installing Android 13 took 5-10 minutes on a test Pixel 4XL, and after a quick reboot, the phone was ready to go.
Personalization and Accessibility
Stuff You redefined personalization for Android users last year. This feature allows you to customize the user interface (UI) to match your wallpaper; adopts a color scheme to match the background. Android 13 offers a larger selection of colors, giving you more control over how your home and lock screens look. This feature has been expanded to include the color scheme for non-Google apps, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, developers must choose to allow this feature, so in practice, many of the apps we commonly use on our phones have not adopted this feature. LinkedIn pulls from your color selection, for example, but Facebook, Messenger, and Twitter don’t. It clashes with the cohesive look Google envisioned.
Multilingual Android users can set their preferred language for individual apps. This showed a lot of promise during the beta, but unfortunately falls a bit flat in the official release of Android 13. Only apps that support language selection can be customized in this way, and based on our tests, this is quite limited. . Of course, Google’s own apps like Calendar, Maps, and News use this feature, so it still has some utility despite its limited applications. For example, my father uses English for most functions on his phone, but he needs directions in Spanish. Having Google’s excellent maps app working in Spanish is a game changer for him.
Android 13 includes support for braille displays by default, which is a very nice touch. This feature is intended for visually impaired people who cannot interact with or read a touch screen. Previously, visually impaired people had to download and use the BrailleBack app to get the most out of their phones. With Android 13, this can be used as soon as the update is installed.
Permissions, privacy and security
This update also brings several new permissions and privacy enhancements that make the operating system much less intrusive and much more convenient to use. With Android 13, apps ask for permission before they can send you notifications. You no longer need to worry about a cacophony of prompts every time you open your device; these notifications can be turned off right when you install the app (or later in the Privacy menu in Settings).
Another notable privacy enhancement comes in the form of a photo picker. Similar to the functionality seen in iOS, you now have the ability to select which specific images apps can access whenever you share something, instead of giving these apps permission to look at your entire library.
There’s one particularly important thing to note regarding security: the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Pixel 6a can’t be rolled back to the old Android 12 once they’re updated to Android 13. Google hasn’t specified why, though it seems That’s a potential security issue with the Pixel 6 lineup. In any case, it’s a one-way street, so only download and install Android 13 if you’re absolutely sure you want it.
Google expands device functionality and cross-talk with each version of the operating system, as the Android architecture supports many smart devices. Your Android phone can easily serve as your smart device control center. With Android 13, Google enriches multitasking functionality, which is particularly useful when many of us return to work or work from home. If you own a Chromebook, you can stream messages from your phone directly to your Chromebook. You can send and receive messages without reaching for your phone, as long as these devices are connected via Bluetooth.
Another useful feature is the cross-device copy and paste functionality. We’ve all been in situations where we want to quickly share content between our devices, whether it’s a text, a screenshot, a photo, or a URL, without having to go through the hassle of juggling multiple apps to save and send it. With Android 13, you can simply touch and hold what you want to share, search for nearby Android devices, and simply paste it to your other device.
Tablet owners benefit from improved productivity with the ability to open a second app from the taskbar and enjoy a split-screen view, making multitasking that much easier. This feature may not be as robust as iPadOS 16’s impressive Stage Manager, which lets you juggle four apps at once. We’ve come a long way from a single app taking up the screen real estate of a tablet.
Some cool features in no particular order
- Android 13 finally supports exFAT files, allowing Pixel devices to handle files larger than 4GB (an old storage limitation due to the use of the dated FAT32 format on older devices). With 4K video and HD photos now commonplace, this is a major improvement.
- You now have a quick setup for the QR code scanner. It is accessed through the notification screen (pulled down from the top of the screen). A new Scan QR Code option can be assigned to the notification shade, making it more convenient than navigating through Google Lens.
- You can summon the Assistant by swiping up from the bottom corners of your screen.
polished to a shine
Android 12 was a major update for smartphones when it was released last year, so it’s no surprise that Google is expanding Android elements rather than targeting another major revision in 2022. Android 13 feels like a collection of improvements. , but this is not a detriment. to the operating system. The new customization features are exciting. The security and privacy changes are long overdue and a welcome improvement. The multitasking additions are a boon to productivity and we hope to see more of them in the future. Android 13 offers a neat OS package that enhances your Pixel device without overwhelming it with new features and functions, but that’s all it really needed to be.