Google ended April with a bang, putting out the first beta for Android 13. This is usually a momentous occasion saved for Google I/O, the annual developer conference, but the company behind Android decided to get things started early this year.
Android 13 Beta 1 is officially available for all supported Pixels and it's even easier to sign up than the Developer Previews. But the beta is still far from stable, so we advise caution before you wade in.
We'll find out more about Android 13 later today (May 11) of course, when Google I/O gets underway at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT / 6 p.m. BST. Our Google I/O 2022 live blog is already up and running, so bookmark that page for all the latest news and announcements.
Android 13 supports the Pixel 4 and up, including the Pixel A-series models and there are some new goodies to note, so without further ado, here's what's new in Android 13 Beta 1.
Granular media access permissions
Thus far, developer previews of Android 13 have been mostly about adjustments to permissions, with Google dead set on making the operating system more secure and private. The biggest change among these is the new, granular media access permissions.
Before, when an app requested permission to access your media files, it got to see all of them stored on your phone. Not any longer — Android 13 introduces three new granular permission types in the form of images, video, and audio.
Basically, an app has to request access to each one of those categories separately. You will have ultimate choice over what apps can access your media files.
Anticipatory audio routing
In Android 13 Developer Preview 2, we got support for MIDI 2.0 peripheral devices. Now, Google has added a new anticipatory audio routing API into Beta 1, opening a lot of potential for musicians.
What does that mean? Basically, Android 13 will be able to tell apps what audio formats the OS can play and render on device. The API also allows Android to retrieve a list of devices it can use to play the audio. This will make for seamless audio production, both user-facing and in the system itself.
Cryptographic key generation fixes
For apps that use the KeyMint and Keystore systems — which generate and store cryptographic keys — Android 13 introduces a new error reporting system. These errors help developers identify what's gone wrong and — more importantly — allow the apps to retry generating new keys.
Other miscellaneous features
That's not all that Android 13 Beta 1 has to offer, but we'll probably continue to find more things in the coming days. For example, Google didn't talk much about the new Material You icons and the new Quick Settings API that helps you discover what apps have Quick Tile capabilities.
We're still digging into the beta on our Pixels, but it looks like Google has made it easier to control your smart home without unlocking your phone. That's a blessing. There's also signs of new audio abilities like spatial audio and Bluetooth LE. Otherwise, the other changes seem pretty minor, so keep checking back on our Android 13 page to stay up to date.
And stay tuned for Google I/O, which gets underway May 11. We'd expect Android 13 to get some significant stage time during the opening keynote, when we'll see these features — and additional enhancements — in action.
How to install Android 13 Beta 1
The good news is that installing Android 13 Beta 1 is super simple. Here's what you need to do.
1. Head over to the Android beta page, then click View your eligible devices to see a list of your Pixels that you can enroll.
2. Select the device you wish to enroll, then click Opt in.
3. If prompted, select the Android 13 Beta Program option, then click Review terms.
4. On the terms page, click the checkbox I agree to the terms of the beta program, then click Confirm and enroll.
5. Your device is now enrolled! Click Ok to finish.
As noted above, this software is still in beta format, so we'd advise against installing Android 13 on a device you rely on for everyday use at this point. That may change during the summer-long beta process, as each Android 13 build becomes more stable.
Android 13 Beta 1 outlook
Christmas came early this year for Android fans. Google I/O 2022 starts today, and we would guess that Google has a lot more Android stuff to talk about at the conference. The first beta seems pretty tame in comparison to the first Android 12 beta introduced last May.
We can't expect huge changes every year, but keep it locked here to Tom's Guide to stay up to date on Android 13.