Today the premiere of Android 13 for Google Pixel smartphones

Today, Google is releasing Android 13 for Google Pixel smartphones, after months of development and beta testing. It’s an update that tweaks many of the changes made by Android 12 while introducing a ton of little, helpful features around the world that aim to improve privacy, security, and usability. Along with the update, the company also announced that the Android 13 source code is now available on AOSP.

What’s new in Android 13?

Android 13 has ton new stuff, though many of them are smaller incremental improvements. There are a lot of smaller improvements across the board that go to different elements of Android, so here are some of our favorites!

Requests to notify the application

Request for notification of an Android 13 application
Apps can no longer just send you notifications without asking, and will have to ask for notifications permission. You can then deny access to the app if you don’t want it to send you notifications, reducing the risk of unwanted spam. However, be careful which apps you are denying notification permissions!

Application language preferences

For those who may be multilingual, the app’s language preferences may be the best addition in Android 13 for your applications. You can choose a specific language only for certain specific applications. For example, let’s say your mother tongue is German and your phone is in German. However, maybe the app’s translations into German are weird or incorrect, it might just be easier to set the app’s language to another you understand and it might be more likely that they will have the correct translations.

Copy and paste images, text, videos and URLs then paste on the tablet

Now you can copy content including images, text, videos and URLs and paste them on the tablet. This can be used to create photos and even to transfer the URL from one device to another quickly and easily.

New multimedia controls

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

More granular access permissions to media files

Currently, all applications on an Android device can access files in the phone memory with the READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission. However, this permission will allow applications to access all types of media files in memory. For example, an audio playback app will be able to access your photos with this permission, which is quite unnecessary. But Google changes that by introducing three new permissions in Android 13:

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

If an application requests access to more than one type of media file, you will see one dialog allowing you to grant both permissions as follows:

Request to access media on Android 13 beta 1

More color options for the material!

Android 13 adds some new colors and themes to the Wallpaper and Style app on Pixel devices. You can now choose from four pages of wallpaper colors and primary colors, bringing the total number of wallpaper colors and primary colors to 16. In contrast, the Wallpaper & Style application previously only offered four colors.

Photo picker API

The new Photo Picker API is an extension of Google’s existing document selector. It works by using Android to select documents on the device, which are then selectively shared with the app you’re using, rather than an app that has wider access to files on the device itself. This way, the app can access photos or videos on your phone while not having wider access to the rest of your phone. Photo Picker is also rolling out to older Android devices with an update to Google Play Services.

What else is new

What we showed above is not new, but so far these are some of our favorite features. We’ve already documented everything to expect in Android 13, and it covers everything we’ve found in every beta and developer preview.

Which Google Pixel phones are upgraded to Android 13?

  • Google Pixel 4/4 XL
  • 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, or you don’t want to wait for Google to implement it, you can install it manually. If you’ve unlocked your device’s bootloader, you can manually install the device’s OTA image or factory image, or use Google’s online Android Flash tool to automate the process. Anyway, download the Android 13 image to your device and then you can install it as well.

When will other phones get the Android 13 update?

As Google’s major OEM partners already had access to the pre-release source code, their engineers had already started the OS development process to add custom features and UI fixes. Smaller OEMs, independent developers and others without access to the pre-release version can take a look at the Android 13 source code today to analyze or re-base their work on the new release. Unfortunately, we cannot offer a final schedule when each OEM will release an Android 13 update for their devices, but we may list some devices that we suspect will receive the update soon, depending on whether or not beta the update has now been made available.

Here are the devices that have received the Android 13 Developer Preview or Public Beta and are therefore expected to receive a stable update soon:

  • Samsung Galaxy S22 / S22 Plus / S22 Ultra
  • OnePlus 10 Pro
  • Asus Zenfone 8
  • Lenovo Tab P12 Pro
  • 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 near.

Samsung is doing its job as always. The company announced the One UI 5 beta a while back, but then randomly ditched the beta in select countries without any warning. The first beta of One UI 5 features a ton of cool changes that we covered in our hands-on lessons.

In a post announced by Google, the company confirms that the devices “Samsung Galaxy, Asus, HMD (Nokia phones), iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, Vivo, Xiaomi and others” will receive the update “yet this year ”, although it is unclear whether it is a stable update or a beta release.

Looking at Android 14 and above

In this release, Google will now bet on Android 14 – and more. We don’t know what to really expect, except that its code name seems to be “Upside Down Cake”. It is not yet clear whether the company will be working on a provisional version à la Android 12L, but we will have to wait and see.

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