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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Android 13: Release Date, Beta, New Feature Leaks, and More

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It’s safe to say that a lot is happening in the Android world right now. While most OEMs have just started rolling out Android 12 updates to their devices, Google is beta testing its tablet-focused Android 12L and simultaneously working on Android 13 behind the scenes. The leaks regarding Android 13 have already started pouring in, and we already have a good idea about a number of new features in the next iteration of Android. So in this article, we have rounded up everything we know about Android 13 right now, including the release date, beta rollout timeline, leaked features, and more.

Android 13: Everything We Know so Far (January 2022)

Android 13 Release Date

Google is yet to share the release date of Android 13. But, going by history, we could expect the company to release Android 13 developer previews and beta builds ahead of the stable release. Google typically releases three developer previews and three beta builds before the stable version. However, the company went on to release 5 beta builds with Android 12 last year.

Android 12 Release Timeline

You could expect the first developer preview build of Android 13 to be released sometime in February 2022. Beta builds are expected to start rolling out in May 2022, alongside an official announcement at Google I/O 2022. The developer previews and beta builds will be followed by a stable release in October 2022. While developer previews contain experimental features that may not make it to the final build, beta builds are relatively usable. They come with features that are likely to make their way to the finalized version.

We will update this section once Google announces the official Android 13 update release timeline next month. So bookmark this guide and be on the lookout for regular updates.

Android 13 Eligible Devices

Now, many of you may be wondering – Will my phone get the Android 13 update? The answer to that question varies based on your current device. As always, Pixel phones will receive priority treatment when it comes to software updates. Moreover, we will be sharing a complete list of Android 13 compatible devices when OEMs share more information in the coming months, so stay tuned for that. For now, here are the Pixel phones that will get Android 13 update:

  • Google Pixel 4
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
  • Google Pixel 4a
  • Google Pixel 4a (5G)
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Google Pixel 5a (5G)
  • Google Pixel 6
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro

If you recall, Pixel 2 series reached end-of-life before the Android 12 release and wasn’t included in the list of Android 12 devices. Similarly, Google is likely to drop support for Pixel 3 and 3 XL this time around. Now, you might be wondering about the fate of Pixel 3a and 3a XL. Unfortunately, both of these devices will stop receiving updates by May 2022. As mentioned earlier, Android 13 won’t be ready by October 2022, and hence, the Pixel 3a series won’t receive Android 13. The Android 12L update will be the last for the budget-centric Pixel 3a series.

Android 13 Dessert Name

Google has a tradition of using dessert names for Android. Although Google stopped marketing the dessert name after Android 9 Pie back in 2018, it still uses dessert names internally as codenames for Android releases. For instance, Quince Tart is the codename for Android 10, Red Velvet Cake is Android 11’s codename, and Android 12 was internally known as Snow Cone.

Android 13 Dessert Name Tiramisu
Image courtesy: New Africa/ Shutterstock

Coming to Android 13, we already know that the internal codename of Android 13 is Tiramisu. It’s thanks to a commit spotted by CalyxOS security research engineer Chirayu Desai on the AOSP Gerrit. For those wondering, Tiramisu is a coffee-flavored Italian dessert. According to Wikipedia, Tiramisu is usually made of savoiardi, egg yolks, mascarpone, cocoa, and coffee.

Android 13: Top New Features (Leaked)

Since Google has not released the first developer preview of Android 13 yet, details about the upcoming release are scarce at this moment. However, we do know a few tidbits, courtesy of reports from Esper’s Mishaal Rahman, XDA’s Aamir Siddiqui, and Android Police’s Ryne Hager. As always, we have added consumer-centric features first, followed by developer-focused features towards the end.

Panlingual App-Specific Languages

Android 13: Release Date, Beta, New Feature Leaks, News, and More
Image courtesy: XDA Developers

Codenamed Panlingual, Android 13 may finally bring the ability to set languages on a per-app basis. Ideal for polyglots, the feature will make it convenient to use some apps in a specific language. For instance, one could potentially use Google Chrome in Hindi while interacting with the rest of the phone in English.

Unlike apps that currently support multiple languages, Android 13 will take a unified approach, where you will be able to configure app languages for different apps under the “Languages & Input” settings. According to XDA’s report, the feature will also be baked into the “App Info” page.

New Material You Color Styles

Material You, the wallpaper-based theming system, was one of the best Android 12 features. However, it comes with limited options for customizing the accent color. As a result, users have to rely on third-party apps like LWP+ to customize Material You accent colors. That will hopefully change with Android 13, as a new report from Android Police hints that Google is working on adding new styles for dynamic themes.

According to the report, Google may add three new color combinations alongside the color options you currently get. The four theme styles will be called Tonal (default one in Android 12), Vibrant, Expressive, and Spritz. Vibrant adds more punch to the accent color, while Expressive style has bold colors and Spritz goes for a muted aesthetic.

All these styles still utilize your wallpaper’s accents for picking the color to theme your device. However, the implementation behind the scenes is what differentiates them. Although it’s still not as efficient as the option to set your own accent color, it is a step in the right direction.

Tap to Transfer Media Playback Between Devices

Android 13 Tap to Transfer Media Playback Between Devices
Image courtesy: Android Police

According to a recent Android Police report, Android 13 may offer a media tap to transfer feature. It could potentially let users switch media between your phone and other devices, presumably smart speakers. From what it looks like, the feature could be akin to how you can seamlessly transfer media playback from an iPhone to HomePod. The report speculates that it could rely on NFC or UWB to transfer media playback.

Runtime Notifications

Starting with Android 13, Google is expected to introduce runtime permissions for notifications. In other words, the apps will have to request permission from the user before sending notifications, much like how other permissions like location and microphone access are handled on Android today. The idea is to help users make a cautious decision whether they’d like to receive notifications from an app. Will this solve Android’s spam notifications problem? To an extent, but not really.

tiramisu runtime permissions
Image courtesy: Android Police

Although the feature would help you instantly deny notifications for a rogue app you would rather not get any notifications from, it doesn’t regulate the apps that also send you important notifications. That is exactly why Google introduced notification channels with Android 8.0 Oreo back in 2017. While most apps have started sending notifications through specific categories, some of them that don’t target Android 8.0 (API level 26) continue to use the primary notification channel for both important notifications and promotions.

If an app has properly implemented notification channels, you have the option to manually block out spam notifications today. And you can continue to receive important notifications. In a nutshell, if you are tired of that one food delivery app constantly nudging you to order good food online, go through our guide to disable spam notifications on Android to stop it for good.

Faster Access to QR Code Scanning

qr code scanning Android 13
Image courtesy: Android Police

Thanks to the pandemic, we have witnessed widespread adoption of QR codes. Ranging from payment terminals to restaurant menus, QR codes are now almost everywhere. Considering the rejuvenated interest, Android 13 will let you access the QR code scanner right from your phone’s lock screen. In addition, you will also get a Quick Settings tile for easily accessing the QR code scanner.

Multi-User Contactless NFC Payments

Android 13 contactless payments

A minor change in Android 13 would make it easier to use NFC payments for multiple profiles. So far, the option to make NFC payments is only available to the primary profile. However, if you are someone who shares your phone with a family member and lives in a country that has embraced NFC payments, this Android 13 feature is likely to come as good news to you.

Redesigned Audio Output Picker

android 13 redesigned output picker
Image courtesy: Android Police

In a noticeable visual change, Google is reportedly redesigning the media output picker in Android 13. Output picker, not to be confused with the expanded volume bar, lets you switch between available output devices such as Bluetooth headphones or phone speakers. It looks similar to Android 12’s Quick Settings tiles (read: they’re thick) and accommodates the device name in the volume slider. It’s functionally the same as Android 12, but it will come in a design refresh to improve consistency throughout the interface.

Bluetooth LE Audio Support

Remember when Bluetooth SIG announced LC3 codec with Bluetooth LE Audio at CES 2020? It looks like Android 13 may completely embrace Bluetooth LE Audio. According to the AOSP Gerrit commit spotted by Mishaal Rahman, Google may add LC3 codec as an option in the settings. To recall, the LC3 codec offers better audio quality when compared to SBC codec, even at a 50% lower bit rate.

DNS over HTTPS Support

Google introduced DNS-over-TLS with Android 9 Pie, and the feature has been available as “Private DNS” since then. According to the commit spotted by XDA Developers, Google is planning to support DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) on Android 13. Most popular web browsers, including Google Chrome and Firefox, introduced DoH support over the past few years. It is also possible to turn on DNS-over-HTTPS on Windows 11. Until Android 13 arrives, you can check this guide on how to enable DNS-over-TLS on Android.

The Android Resource Economy (TARE)

According to a report from XDA Developers, Google may introduce a new feature dubbed TARE — The Android Resource Economy. Going by the report, TARE aims to help apps efficiently utilize the available battery juice in the phone.

“TARE introduces “Android Resource Credits”, something that is best described as a form of currency that is tied to the battery level of the device. Google will be “awarding” credits to apps based on how depleted the battery is, and apps can then use these credits as “payments” for the opportunity to perform tasks,” states the report.

Moreover, TARE may limit the number of tasks an app can schedule through the JobScheduler and AlarmManager policies based on the battery level. As you might have guessed by now, this is a developer-focused feature, and we will have to wait to learn more about how the feature works behind the scenes.

Android 13 is Right Around the Corner

There you have it. That’s everything we know about Android 13 at the moment. Unlike last year, Android 13 is not going to bring a radical UI change to the OS. Instead, Google is likely to focus on refining the interface alongside incremental feature additions this time around. The first Android 13 developer preview is merely a month away now, and we could expect to see these features in action then. We will be covering Android 13 in detail when it arrives, so stay tuned for more information. Until then, share your expectations from Android 13 in the comments section below.

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