The day has finally come for Android phones to get their big annual update. Google released the stable Android 13 update today and if you have a Pixel 4 or higher model in your hand, the update notification will appear soon. I already have it on my Pixel 6a and the installation is underway.
Google says phones from the likes of Samsung, OnePlus, Nokia, Oppo, Realme and Xiaomi will receive the update later this year. You can expect these brands to make an official announcement about the update roadmap for their respective phones in the coming days.
Aside from rolling out the stable Android 13 build for Pixel phones, Google has also pushed it to the AOSP channel, meaning the code is now available for manufacturers and developers to tinker and work on custom ROMs.
Android 13 isn’t quite as big an aesthetic overhaul as Android 12 was, with an emphasis on smaller refinements that really make sense. For starters, you can now set the application UI language on a per-app basis. In bedtime mode you can now play with dimming wallpapers and dark theme effects.
As for security, with the revamped media permission system you can now grant access to only the selected media files for an app. An app can no longer gain general access to your entire gallery if you do not deem it necessary.
And if you’re concerned that sensitive data copied to your clipboard might leave you vulnerable, Android 13 regularly performs an automatic removal for all clipboard stuff. In addition, apps can no longer seek location access to find nearby Wi-Fi devices.
Another tweak that will make users’ lives easier is a refined notification system. Now an app needs explicit permission before it can display a notification. Android 13 also adds an API that allows users to control the brightness levels of the LED flash on their phone.
For multitasking, especially on the big screen of tablets, Android 13 will enable multi-window mode for all apps by default. Additionally, an app drawer has been added to the taskbar, complete with drag and drop support to open an app in split screen mode and copy and paste content.
As for the audio, Android 13 embraces the Bluetooth LE Audio standard that offers benefits such as a high-quality audio experience while consuming less power, thanks to the new LC3 audio codec. Bluetooth LE Audio enables hearing aid support, introduces Spatial Audio with head tracking and enables audio broadcasting to multiple devices.
Android 13 also makes some changes to the Camera2 API, including standardizing HDR video capture and preview for media stabilization. Finally, there are a whole host of fixes for existing issues and performance improvements.