Google has taken its first public step toward Android 13, with the release of a Developer Preview and now with the first beta. That triggers an update cycle for the mobile OS that generally results in a fall release for the next version of Android. And Android 13 is on track to take that journey.
Specifically, the second Android 13 public beta is now out, following Google's yearly I/O conference. Our vision of the feature set is coming together, though we imagine it's far from complete.
Here's what we know about Android 13 so far.
Android 13 news (updated May 12)
- Android 12 Beta 2 is out right now for you to try. And it may be making unlocking Pixel 6 handsets faster.
- Check out our Google I/O 2022 live blog for all the stuff Google announced. Android 13 wasn't a major player, though.
- The first Android 13 beta has landed. And the standout features so far are the ability to edit copied text before you paste it, and signs of spatial audio and Bluetooth LE compatability.
- According to a new report, Android 13 could support dual eSIMs, which means that the physical SIM card could be on the way out.
Android 13 release date speculation
The release of Android 13 Developer Preview 1 brings a rough timeframe for Google's schedule of updates and beta releases. If you remember Android 12's release schedule, this will look very familiar.
Even before we saw that timeline, we figured the final Android 13 release would happen in the fall, around the launch of the Pixel 7. But Google will likely detail the release timeline at its yearly Google I/O 2022 conference, which starts today (May 11).
It's worth noting Google's Android 13 roadmap seems to peg the first beta of the software for April. Google delivered on that, with Android 13 Beta 1 landing on April 26. We still expect a big Android 13 showcase at Google I/O.
Unfortunately, Android 13 seemed like an afterthought at the I/O keynote, but the second beta is available right now.
Android 13 features
We don't know too much about Android 13's whole feature set just yet — what's included in Android 13 Developer Preview 1, Developer Preview 2, and Beta 1. But some rumored features from Android Police give us a big taste of what we might be able to expect this year.
Spatial audio/virtual surround sound: Whatever you want to call it, Google seems to be working on the ability to give your audio devices a more 3D effect when paired with your Android phone.
Bluetooth LE support: The latest standard of Bluetooth needs less power, offers multi-device pairing and reduces stuttering. That's why it's great to see the necessary audio codec present in Android 13.
Copied text editing: In the same way you can tap the preview of a screenshot to make changes before saving it, Android 13 gives you a preview of any text you've copied, and allows you to edit it before adding it to your clipboard, hopefully saving you from a few mistakes. If the phone detects you've copied a hyperlink, a button to instantly open it in Chrome also pops up.
Photo Picker: Added in the first developer preview for Android 13, the new Photo Picker adopts a feature already available in iOS 15. You'll be able to choose whether to share specific photos with an app rather than your whole gallery. The feature adds an extra element of privacy, only letting apps see the specific data you wish to share with them.
Nearby Wi-Fi device permission: Another addition in the Android 13 developer preview, Nearby Device permission now includes a Wi-Fi element. Specifically, a NEARBY_WIFI_DEVICES permission allows apps to access your phone's knowledge of Wi-Fi access points, potentially limiting what you share with outside apps.
Themed third-party icons: As you may remember, Android 12 allowed icons to shade themselves according to the wallpaper, even if the feature was limited to Google's apps. Based on the developer preview, Android 13 extends that capability to third-party apps.
Dual eSIM support: According to a report, Google may offer a way of letting multiple carriers connect to a single eSIM in Android 13. This dual eSIM support in Android 13 would obviate the need for a physical SIM card, though that would be up to carriers and phone makers.
New QR code scanner: Screenshots obtained by Android Police show two new QR code scanner options. The first is allowing you to access your phone's scanner from the lock screen, meaning you can scan restaurant menus without unlocking your device. This would certainly be welcome.
Media playback handoff: Android might be getting its own media handoff feature to rival the iPhone and HomePods. If you don't know, you can hand off media to a HomePod mini by tapping your iPhone to it. If Android Police's source is correct, Android 13 could see "Media TTT," or Media Tap-to-Transfer. This would allow you to tap your phone to some device, like a Nest speaker, to transfer the media playback to it. How this would work remains unclear at this time.
Granular media access permissions: Android 13 Beta 1 introduced new granular media access permissions. Apps will now have to request access to your images, videos, and audio files separately. Before, apps got access to all of your media with a single permission.
Redesigned media output picker: Android Police thinks Google won't stop with a photo picker, making changes to any media output picker. This is where you choose what speaker plays your media, whether it's your phone's loudspeakers, your Bluetooth earbuds, etc. The screenshots obtained by show that the volume bar looks like it's getting a rounded, full-size option to match the new main volume bar in Android 12.
Adjustable flashlight: A new report from Esper has found commands in the developer beta that suggest Google will let you adjust the brightness of your flashlight, rather than simply having it on or off. This feature has been present on iOS and some Android brands for some time, so it'll be useful to have this feature built-in by default.
App archiving: This may not be Android 13-specific, but Google has officially announced a new feature that will allow apps to be saved in a smaller, archived format on users' phones, reducing their storage footprint until they're needed. It sounds particularly useful for users with limited onboard storage.
Notification permissions: Android 13 Developer Preview 2 is introducing notification permissions, basically copying iOS exactly. This means that you can outright deny apps from sending you notifications when you first launch them, as long as developers build in the functionality.
Bluetooth LE audio: Android 13 will add support for Bluetooth LE audio, meaning you can get higher-quality audio with less energy expenditure.
MIDI 2.0 support: Android 13 will also add support for MIDI 2.0 devices.
Anticipatory audio routing: Android 13 features new audio device and audio profile APIs to better handle audio production and device selection. This will help users pick the best audio format for their track, which will be great for musicians.
Better error reporting in KeyMint and Keystore: Android 13 features new error reporting in the KeyMint and Keystore cryptographic key systems. Developers who rely on these systems will be able to see errors when their apps fail to generate keys properly. More importantly, developers will be able to use the errors to pinpoint the problem and retry key generation.
Auto clipboard history deletion: This is self-explanatory, but Android 13 will be able to auto-delete your clipboard history.
Android 13: What we want to see
Android 12 wasn't a perfect transition into the Material You world, much like Android 5.0 Lollipop wasn't a smooth path to Material Design. Google employs hundreds of people who work on this stuff, but they're all ultimately human. Mistakes and errors are bound to happen.
For Android 13, I'd like to see the following things, and I'm sure I'll think of more.
Fewer bugs: It's no secret that Android 12 has had a rocky launch with bugs aplenty. While I personally haven't had too many issues, I know that many others have had the opposite experience. The shift to Material You presented several problems, like when Lollipop came out in 2014. Issues were bound to happen, but I want to see Android 13 stabilize things.
Bring back the Wi-Fi Quick Settings tile: For Android 12, Google merged the Quick Settings mobile data and the Wi-Fi controls into one called "Internet." This makes toggling Wi-Fi, or switching networks, a hassle. I want to see this change reversed to the way it was in Android 11.
Universal scrolling screenshots: Android 12 introduced scrolling screenshots, but only for some apps. Developers had to implement a "View-based UI" element into their apps, the lack of which meaning no scrolling screenshots. I want to see Android 13 add scrolling screenshots for all apps and situations, much like we've seen on some other Android phones for years.
Smart home controls in power menu: In Android 11, you could access your smart home controls from the power menu. In Android 12, they're buried behind a Quick Settings tile. It's just one more step to do something basic like turning off my lights. I'd like Google to bring back the controls to the power menu.