With the arrival of the second preview of Android 13 for developers, we get a better idea of what will be in the next major version for Google’s mobile OS. This is the software that will ship to the best Android phones next year.
After Android 12, which was visually a huge deal for the entire platform, and Android 12L, which redesigned Android for wider screens, Android 13 may seem like a relatively discreet update. After all, Google spent most of last year fixing bugs in Android 12 and bringing the final touch to 12 liters.
However, Google’s vision for Android in 2023 has more than a few minor changes, as I’ve discovered using the latest build of Android 13 on my Google Pixel 6 over the past few weeks.
Less spam in notifications
The biggest addition to the features in the current preview for Android 13 developers is the new notification permission. Currently, Android apps don’t need explicit permission to send you notifications. Any app can run notifications as much as you like – although Android also makes it easier to mute alerts from noisy apps. After upgrading to Android 13, existing apps will prompt you with a question asking if you want to receive notifications, and new apps will do the same when you use them for the first time.
There are many apps – even with relatively reputable ones – that play quickly and freely with notifications. And while Android’s notification channels have long allowed users to filter out alerts they don’t want to see, explicit permission to send notifications is a welcome improvement – a great way to avoid the increasingly noisy apps that deliver notifications to the insignificant. things. Notifications now require the user to make clear choices, just like any other potentially annoying feature.
Using Android 13 with the new notification permission also allowed me to go through a kind of mini-audit of apps that are allowed to send notifications. While I’m fine with notifications from most social apps – at least I can make them come quietly if I don’t want to be bothered – other apps like games and streaming services will always clutter my dashboard notifications of things I don’t want.
Here, of course, there is also a digital angle of well-being, with the new resolution almost guaranteed to reduce the number of distractions emanating from your phone during the day.
Best multilingual support
In addition to the Latin alphabet, improved visualization for many languages using character sets. In Japanese, for example, text will be transferred between lines more naturally rather than by characters. (There really is no English equivalent here, but the way things work now several it looks like the words are split between the lines.)
In other languages, such as Tamil and Burmese, where the line height sometimes breaks off part of the characters, Android 13 introduces an improved line spacing to make the characters appear correctly.
And in languages like Japanese and Chinese, where you enter phonetically rather than directly enter characters, Android 13 improves autocomplete while searching, so you don’t have to wait to enter characters. It seems that this new API is not used anywhere in any of the pre-installed applications, but after its release it will save a lot of time.
If you ever type in a language that uses a character set such as the Latin alphabet, you will take it as a proper opportunity for applications to type when you enter characters in the search box. Thanks to this latest change, Android will speed up the search for these languages with rooting for English and other European languages. (For the English analogy here, imagine that your search in the program offers sentences only after the completion of a word or sentence.)
Due to this change, the language setting for each program, which was announced at the first preview for developers, now actually works, and applications allow you to select one of the languages of your system or any of the very long list of supported languages. Not every app supports this feature – Twitter, in particular, is blocked for your system’s language – but an amazing number of popular apps allow you to apply a certain language choice.
If you speak two languages and usually juggle two or more languages, this can potentially be a significant improvement in your quality of life. Even if you’re learning, switching one or more apps to your second language can help you improve your fluency.
Clearer sound, clearer emojis
Bluetooth LE Audio is also new in the latest Android 13 Preview. This is the latest standard of wireless sound, which combined with the right headphones can save energy when you listen to music, videos, podcasts or anything else. Just as the LE Bluetooth wearable gadgets are more battery efficient, ushering in the era of smart watches, the LE Audio should do the same for audio playback.
Senior Android Central editor Jerry Hildenbrand explains more in his writing of Bluetooth LE.
“Bluetooth works with two different radios. Classic Bluetooth radio uses more power to do things like transmit higher bitrate streams and expand the range of connected devices, while low-power radio has traditionally been used for slower connections in things like the IoT LE Audio aims to change something, improvements have been made that will allow low-power radios to transmit sound with better sound over long distances, so the battery in the headphones and the battery in your phone will work longer.
The Bluetooth SIG claims that this will allow manufacturers to use Low-Energy for the same uses as the current Bluetooth specification requires a classic radio, and consumers will notice the benefits. It also says that it means that you can create completely new ways to use Bluetooth equipment, so look out for new interesting ideas from companies that make speakers and headphones.
You may need new headphones (and possibly a new phone) as well as an Android 13 update to take advantage of Bluetooth LE Audio. Regardless, the support built into Android 13 is the beginning of the best mobile sound for the entire ecosystem.
Another standard adopted by Android 13 is COLRv1, the standard of color vector fonts. This means that emojis need to scale to larger sizes cleaner, with no blurring that you’ll get if you take a bitmap image and enlarge it. If you’ve ever created a story on Instagram or a video on TikTok, you know that most emoticons now exist in the form of fixed-resolution images – so they become blurred or pixelated when you enlarge them to a larger size.
Emodies are a huge part of how we communicate and express ourselves on our phones, so more beautiful emojis are something we can stand up for.
Lots of minor UI changes
This build has a bunch of minor changes to the Pixel user interface. Most obvious is the new media card design, which is larger and uses the album cover as a background. Over the last few versions of Android, Google has handled how this particular slice of UI works, and Android manufacturers have also had their say on media cards. But in Vanilla Android 13 Google has chosen something that looks pretty good, combining the aesthetics of Material You with a decent level of functionality, giving an important role to the visual representation of everything you listen to.
There’s also a new way to switch to notification apps from Android 13 – just long tap on an alert and drag it to the top or bottom of the screen. This feature is not yet fully refined, and in my experience, just download the messaging program full screen, even after choosing to split screen view. But it can be another handy way to reply to messages without interrupting what you’re doing in the background.
And there’s another minor change that will undoubtedly spoil years of muscular memory for longtime Android users – the settings and power buttons have moved to the bottom of the notification bar, perhaps to distinguish them more from the rest of the quick settings area.
And interestingly, in Android 13 on the big screens there is an application box button – which resurrects a bit of the old iconography of Android, which we have not seen for a long time, and is a natural addition to the new interface of the tablet from Android 12L.
As with everything in the preview for developers, all this may change in the period from now to the final stable version of Android 13. It is likely that the final release still remains in about five months and it is a long time in software development.
The current build will be the latest preview for Android 13 developers – the next build in April is set to launch a beta version of Android 13 ahead of the Google I / O conference in May. As Google nears the in-house development phase, I / O is where we’d expect to hear more about any other Major features that have not yet been identified.