Lock your seatbelt and be ready for the new ride because the next version of Android has launched and is ready to explore your smartphone. Yes, a stable version of Android 13 is available for Pixel phones, and if you have a Pixel4 or newer model you can update it right now.
If you’re using a Pixel device or having a device running on Stock Android 12 you know after the big material U update there are several issues. So this time Google launched the stable version of Android 13 rather quickly after some successful beta testing.
On August 15th Google officially unveiled Android 13 and immediately OTA (over the air) update is available for Pixel phones. Already many users have updated their devices and reported a good and smooth experience so far.
Android Stable update came to both Pixel phones and Android Open Source Project (AOSP), so we expect other manufacturer adopted the update rather quickly this time. Probably month by month brands adopted this version along with their custom skins.
Android 13 mainly focuses on there sections like design and theming, Privacy, and accessibility. Google has added small tweaks and customizations that make your phone use more personal.
Out of many features and improvements here, I explain the most important ones, so let’s get started…
More Personalization in Metetial U:
Material U is a big change in Android 12 and there is a lot of scope for improvements, so this time Google pushes little finishing touches to it. So now they’re down to tweaking a lot of the things that they’d initially changed for Android 12 and I think a lot of these changes are good.
Wallpaper and theme Style:
In the customization section now you have more options to choose from you can pick 16 new multicolor and 16 basic color themes for your wallpaper. The dual-tone colors look good along with some new fresh wallpapers and there’s a lot more granularity between them.
Just tap and hold on an empty spot on the home screen or go to settings and choose Wallpaper & style to find the new color theme options. The themed icon is the latest inclusion where you can change the icon of your UI to material U design although it’s in beta and available for Pixel phones.
With the themed icon you can customize non-Google apps to match your phone’s wallpaper theme and colors, making your home screen more cohesive and unique to your style. But this will only work with apps in which the developer has included a monochrome icon for Material You to use.
Music player theming:
Now we have a totally new music player that looks modern with new buttons and fonts. In the lock screen and notification center, the music player appears bigger and it changes color based on the media that you’re listening to.
So if it’s music or a podcast, it’s got the album art going and you can notice a squiggly line moving like a wave when there’s actually something playing. The line stops immediately when you pause or stop playing, it’s a little thing but very refreshing.
When you pull down the notification shade and on your lock screen the Album art appears with every track change and it looks great. The buttons are also changed with a bigger play/pause button and an output selector. Now you can directly choose the sound output within the player.
Overall the new player looks sweet 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. You can quickly switch to, or add more sources like headphones or speakers or your car.
Notifications and Lock screen changes:
The lock screen has some visual changes and most of them tiny stuff but if you can notice them they are actually more subtle than Android 12. The icons are a little wider so more space for adding more options.
The lock screen animation changes when you unlock the phone you can notice the change, the lock screen clock is slightly changed and now in settings, Google has introduced a toggle for disabling the huge clock, labeled as “Double-line clock.”
More one-tap options are added to the lock screen and the most important two are One-handed mode and scan QR code. These are very convenient changes that save lots of time.
One tap QR code scanner is handy. To add the QR scanner menu first Pull down the notification shade in Android 13 and tap Edit (the pencil icon) to modify your Quick Settings tiles. You can drag the QR Code Scanner onto your panel.
There are slight repositioning in buttons in the notification shade, now the user profile, setting, and Power options are moved to the bottom, and it’s more reachable in my opinion.
A new option is also added where you can quickly tap and see the apps running for a long time, chose to close them to save battery or leave it up to you.
The user profile option appears a little different where you can choose system user and guest user. Now the box appears less wide and looks perfectly feet in landscape mode when you rotate the screen. And the gesture bar at the bottom is now slightly larger and thicker.
Overall there is a tiny piece of changes in notification and lock screen but again, it adds up to the quality of life improvements for sure.
Smart home Controls in Lock screen:
Now you don’t have to unlock your phone to access smart-home controls from the lock screen. You can simply Go to Settings> Display> Lockscreen > Control from the locked device.
Now you can easily manage your smart devices like smart lights, cameras, and others via the Home icon at the bottom left of the lock screen.
Accessibility and Clipboard changes:
A number of new features were added in the accessibility section and here Google eyeing future development where they reduce the gap between their phones and tablet. Google tablet is coming so they integrate some feature that works seamlessly within two devices.
Clipboard sharing and editing features:
There are a bunch of really solid improvements to the clipboard for copying and pasting within Android. So, the first thing you’re gonna notice when you go to copy something, a new box pops up in the lower left corner, whether it’s text or an address or URL or whatever you copy.
When you copy text, the phone will now give you a preview with the option to tap on that box and then edit the text in the clipboard. Whatever you modify here will be saved in your clipboard so that you can paste it later.
And then if you copy an image, it’ll automatically take you straight into Markup so you can write on it or crop it or save it, whatever you wanna do. Your phone will recognize sensitive information if it’s stored in your clipboard and automatically clear it after some time.
From a security point of view, it’s great because at some time you need to copy sensitive information like card numbers, email, and passwords, and is removed after one hour so the privacy remains intact.
Google is also now working on an official, built-into Android universal copy and paste between phones and tablets. For example, you can also copy on one Android device and choose to paste on another nearby device (if you’re logged into the same Gmail account), so no more having to email yourself from phone to tablet.
New Gesture navigation:
Gesture navigation is improving over the last few years and adopted very well so Google added new features for more controls. Still, many people prefer the three-button navigation, whether for accessibility reasons or just because they’re used to it.
For those who are using the button but wants to know about gesture Google added an option called gesture assistance, hold the home button for 10 seconds and gesture navigation assistance will arrive if you enable it.
Google said they were going to employ machine learning to improve navigation. they are preparing a tweak to the back gesture that will make it obvious that you are about to exit the app or doing the same activity randomly in the same order.
The new feature is called Predictive Back gesture and if you want to know what it looks like, you need to activate predictive back gestures in the developer options. Even then, a few apps work with this as it requires tweaks from app developers. Right now Google News is supporting it.
Apparently, the navigation slider and animation are slightly different compared to Android 12 and if you tap and hold then release an app you can see how the app dissolves in the background.
A quick tap to start Flashlight:
Now in quick tap, a new feature added where you can toggle torchlight by tapping at the back of your Pixel device but still not available for all Pixel phones. But in Pixel 6 and 6pro its works well.
To power on this feature you have to Go to system > Gestures > Quick Tap > Toggle flashlight On to use this.
Privacy and Security improvements:
Privacy and security have been given special attention in Android 13 because Android users have special concerns about security. Here, however, you can pre-select which applications will get access to your device, and some restrictions have been imposed on notifications.
This is nice inclusion where you can preselect some specific pictures these can be accessed by a particular app and the rest files are protected. Photo picker lets you choose a few photos to give it access to instead of your entire library.
Photo picker is working for both cloud and local device storage and the good news is its works across all versions of Android starting from Android 11. Google will push this to all Android 11 and Android 12 phones using the Google Play Store.
Opt-in notifications for all:
Notification permission behavior is changed from now on all applications after the installation has to go through this check. Like other storage, media, call, messaging, camera, and other permissions now the user has to allow an app to show notifications.
This solves one major issue after installing a new app it has overlay other notifications and you have to dig down into system settings to stop them. Instead, now you can just deny an app the ability to send you notifications right when you install it.
There’s also now an active app indicator at the bottom of the notification slider. Maybe that’s less security and more of being able to see what’s running and closing out anything that killing your battery.
App-specific language support:
This is great in my opinion where you have the freedom to choose another language to use a specific app. If you are bilingual or want to use one specific app in your native language you can do that.
This is not a big deal if you use everything on your phone in the default language but may be useful for those who use the local language more. So now in Android 13, you have two options when choosing a system and app language.
App-specific language is useful when you have a family group chat on WhatsApp, or a very specific use case where you just use one app in a different language. Now Android will natively support that exact switch without you having to work around it.
Although right now very few App support that but as the update covers more devices developers starting to port other apps for using this feature. Go to settings> system > languages & input> and then app languages to choose the preferable option.
Nearby WiFi permission:
This function is already present in Android 12 where an app requires location permission in order to search nearby wifi devices and this compromises privacy.
Now in Android 13, Google has introduced a Nearby WiFi device runtime permission where applications don’t need to access device location in order to connect to nearby devices.
The Privacy dashboard (accessed via settings > Privacy > Privacy dashboard), which displays all the apps that have accessed the camera, microphone, location, and other permissions over the past 24 hours, now can show history from the last seven days.
Other small but important updates:
Apart from the above changes Google also introduced several minor changes in version 13, let’s take look…
Spatial Audio Support:
Although this is under development soon you will enjoy spatial audio when using Google buds. On supported headphones it enables head tracking, Spatial Audio shifts the source of the sound to adapt to how you turn your head, giving you a more immersive listening experience on your Android phone or tablet.
Bluetooth LE (low energy):
Now Bluetooth enables headphones to consume less energy and give you low latency and better quality audio output.
Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Audio, is a new Bluetooth audio standard that results in lower latency than classic audio. This allows you to hear audio that’s in better sync with the sound’s source, reducing delay.
New High battery usage alert:
sometimes a bunch of apps draws lots of power in the background causing you a real headache, so now the system warns you about those apps. You can easily find and close these apps in the battery section.
Instead of doing it manually fast pair can search for nearby devices automatically and allows you to quickly pair nearby accessories, such as Bluetooth headphones. Saves lots of time and is very easy to use.
Encryption in Messaging app:
Now you can share high-quality text, images, and GIFs in messages over the Wifi connection. Google is using the RCS(Rich Communication Services) and working with other companies to scale it largely.
Already 500 million active users using the RCS and additionally you get end-to-end encryption when sending anything over wifi in group chats.
Multiple Tablet-specific improvements:
Google tablet is coming in next year and already they created specific features that work seamlessly according to different screen sizes. This gives you a similar experience and doesn’t break your workflow.
A new taskbar is added to the bottom of the notification shade where you can view frequently use apps. The two-column arrangement for quick settings and notifications, and easier drag-and-drop multitasking with the option to pin app pairs in the Recent Apps menu.
Watch OS supports the auto-unlock and audio switching feature meaning you can switch between Tablet and phone easily using the wireless earbuds or smartwatch.
Soon, you’ll be able to copy content — like a URL, picture, text, or video — from your Android phone and paste it onto your tablet and vice versa. Android 13 also lets tablets register your touches via finger and stylus separately.
So whether you’re writing or drawing on your tablet, you’ll experience fewer accidental stray marks that come from simply resting your hand on the screen.
Screen recording: The touch indicators when recording have returned after they went missing in version 12L.
Split-screen: A split-screen feature from 12L lets you pull up two apps at once in multiple windows from notifications.
Bedtime feature in digital wellbeing:
Google always focuses on wellness and your well-being has been an important theme for Android. Disturbances in sleep time can cause harm to our system that’s why Android 13 allows you to further customize Bedtime mode with wallpaper dimming and a dark theme.
These screen options help your eyes adjust to the dark when you’re about to go to bed – and get back to sleep if you wake up and check your phone in the middle of the night.
How did you get the Update?
Pixel owners already received the update by OTA (over the air), if you have Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a(5G), Pixel 5 & 5a, Pixel 6/6a & 6pro then you are eligible to install the latest software.
To start installing just go to Settings> System Update> You can see the Update after a few seconds, if not check for updates> Download and Install
Note: make sure you have a stable internet connection and enough storage then proceed >tap the green Button in the bottom right> download begins and takes 25 to 35 minutes depending on size and network connection. After the reboot, you’ll be running Android 13.
How things are moving in the Android ecosystem:
First of all this time, it’s not a big overhaul like the Android 12 update but a bunch of new feature and improvements brings a quality of life improvements. So whatever we get in the previous version is an extension of those with more polished and practical improvements.
There are definite improvements in the UI that looks more polished, lots of new controls are added to menus, tighten the security of Android for third-party apps, more control in the clipboard with new add-ons, and lastly minimize the gap between phone and Tablet by creating a similar framework for both.
Android is the most popular and widely used operating system in the World. This mobile operating system was developed by Open Handset Alliance led by Google. Right now over 3 billion smartphones are running Android but the biggest concern is still the update scenario is not that great.
For such a huge user base the latest software adoption rate is very low compared to iOS. There are a couple of sources estimating iOS 15 was running on 90% of compatible iPhones within a year of its rolling out. So across the board, most people who had bought an iPhone in the last four years knew that they’re gonna get this software.
Similarly in the Android ecosystem, the distribution chart looks a little confusing. This shows that about 13.5% are on Android 12, a much larger 27% are on a two gen old version of Android 11, and then another 22% are on Android 10 and the fragmentation just continues like this.
Android 13 definitely comes with ease of live improvements and fixes almost all major issues we face in Android 12 but right now very few phones like Pixel are getting the stable update and we don’t know when the rest of the devices getting this.
It’s always a major concern for Android to maintain such a large ecosystem with the current standards. Google already working on that and bringing faster updates for other brands. Although the process is still very slow and this is the general theme here.