Android 12 only just made its debut on a small selection of the world’s best smartphones, but we’re already looking ahead to Android 13. The next big iteration of Google’s mobile operating system has already seen two developer previews launch. 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 confectionary internally. Thanks to the first developer preview, we know the codename for Android 13 is “Tiramisu.” This is the first time in a long while we’ve seen Google be so upfront with the codename.
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. This was later corroborated within Android 13 DP2, although the feature is not active yet.
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.
Now Playing widget updated
The media player that appears in your notification area will have a new look. Album art will now take up the entire background of the widget and the controls have been moved around a bit. It is not clear if this will be a change exclusive to Pixels, though.
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 AppSearch 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 was a quick toggle button introduced in the first developer preview, but it didn’t work. It started working in the second developer preview. The function is simple, but at least you won’t need a separate app for it anymore!
Native Bluetooth LE Audio support
Wireless audio will get a boost in the next version of Android. It will have 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.
‘Do not Disturb’ is now ‘Priority Mode’
This isn’t a wildly new feature, but Google is rebranding Do not Disturb as Priority Mode. It’s possible this could have to do with the changes referred to in the next section about the silent mode.
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.
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.
Reworked audio output selector
Android 13 reworks the audio output picker. It’s mostly an aesthetic redesign to better fit the Material You scheme, but it will make switching to a new output system much easier.
‘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 updates
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.
In the latest stable versions of Android, you need to give apps permission to access certain features, such as your location, the camera, and the microphone. When Android 13 lands, you’ll need to do the same thing for notifications.
This will finally end the problem of a newly downloaded app overloading you with alerts and you needing to dig down into system settings to stop them. Instead, you can just deny an app the ability to send you notifications right when you install it.
Integrated Fast Pair
Fast Pair is a terrific feature. It allows you to quickly pair your phone to accessories, such as Bluetooth headphones. Instead of needing to manually add them, your phone will simply alert you that something is around and ask you if you want to pair with it.
In Android 13, Fast Pair is built right into the OS, which should make it easier to use.
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.
The Android Resource Economy
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.
- It will now be easier to format Japanese text so it is more readable and polished.
- Non-latin scripts (Tamil, Burmese, Telugu, Tibetan, etc.) will now look better with adaptive line height. This will prevent the bottom sections of these characters from getting cut off.
- People who use phonetic lettering (such as those who speak Japanese and Chinese) will now have an easier time conducting searches and having texts auto-complete. This is because of a new text conversion API incorporated into Android 13.
- Fonts and emoji will have rendering support from COLRv1. This will help them render quickly and to look great at virtually any size.
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.