Today, Google is releasing Android 13 for Google Pixel smartphones, following months of developer previews and beta releases. It’s an update that polishes a lot of the changes that Android 12 brought to the table, while also introducing a ton of small, helpful features across the board that aims to improve privacy, security, and usability. Alongside the update, the company has also announced that Android 13’s source code is now available in AOSP.
What’s new in Android 13?
Android 13 has a ton of new stuff, though a lot of them are smaller, incremental improvements. There are a lot of smaller improvements across the board that pertain to different elements of the Android system, so here are some of our favorites!
App notification requests
Apps can no longer just send you notifications without asking, and they’ll need to request the notification permission. You can then deny access to an app if you don’t want it to give you notifications, reducing the chance of unwanted spam. Be careful what apps you deny notification permissions to though!
App language preferences
For those who may be multilingual, app language preferences might just be the best addition in Android 13 for your uses. You can choose a specific language just for some particular apps. For example, let’s say your native language is German, and your phone is in German. However, maybe an application’s translations into German are weird or are incorrect, it might just be easier to set the language of the app to another language that you understand, and may be more likely to have correct translations.
Copy and paste images, text, videos, and URLs and paste on your tablet
You can now copy content including images, text, video, and URLs, and paste it onto your tablet. This can be used for photo creation purposes, or even just transferring a URL quickly and easily 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 a lot bigger now. It also has a squiggly progress bar now. Cool!
More granular permissions for media file access
Currently, all the applications on your Android device can access the files on your phone’s storage with the READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission. This permission, however, will allow the apps to access all kinds of media files on the storage. For instance, an audio-playing app will have access to your photos with this permission, which is quite unnecessary. But Google is changing this 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 more than one media file type, then you’ll see a single dialog for granting both permissions like this:
More Material You color options
Android 13 adds several new colors and theming options to the Wallpaper & style app on Pixel devices. You can now choose from four pages of wallpaper colors and basic colors, taking the total number of both wallpaper colors and basic colors to 16. In contrast, the Wallpaper & style app previously only offered four colors each.
Photo Picker 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 that are then selectively shared with the app in use, rather than the app having wider storage access to the files on the device itself. This way, an app can access photos or videos on your phone while also not having wider access to the rest of your phone. Photo Picker is also rolling out to older Android devices through a Google Play services update.
What else is new?
What we’ve shown above isn’t all that’s new, but they’re some of our favorite features so far. We’ve documented everything you can expect to find in Android 13 already, and it covers everything that we found in each beta and developer preview.
Which Google Pixel phones are getting 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 whatever reason, you don’t receive the update once it starts rolling out, or you don’t want to wait for Google’s rollout of the update, then you can manually install it. If you’ve unlocked the bootloader of your device, you can manually install the device OTA image or factory image, or use Google’s web-based Android Flash Tool to automate the process. In any case, download the Android 13 image for your device, and then you can install it too.
When will other phones get the Android 13 update?
Since Google’s major OEM partners have already had pre-release access to the source code, their engineers have already begun the process of forking the OS to add custom features and UI tweaks. Smaller OEMs, independent developers, and other entities without pre-release access can today take a look at the Android 13 source code to analyze or rebase their work on top of the new release. Unfortunately, we can’t offer a definitive timeline for when every OEM will release an Android 13 update for their devices, but we can list some of the devices we suspect will get the update soon based on whether or not a beta update has already been made available.
Here are the devices that have received an Android 13 developer preview or public beta release and thus are expected to get the 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 know some are very close.
Samsung, as always, is doing its own thing. The company announced its One UI 5 beta a while back, but then randomly dropped the beta in select countries without any warning. The first One UI 5 beta has a ton of cool changes that we outlined in our hands-on.
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 be receiving the update “later this year”, though it’s unclear if that refers to a stable update or a beta release.
Looking to Android 14 and beyond
With this release, Google will now set sights on Android 14 — and beyond. We don’t know what to expect really, aside from the fact that its codename appears to be “Upside Down Cake“. It’s not clear yet if the company will be working on an interim release à la Android 12L, but we’ll have to wait and see.