Android 13: the best features to expect

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Android 12 was a big step forward for the platform. With Material You, numerous security additions, and overall performance improvements, it would be hard for Google to walk out of the gate with the 13th iteration with something major that could eclipse what happened with 12. In fact, I predict the next version will be a little disappointing, given that the previous version reset the expectation bar.

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That doesn’t mean Android 13 will be a half-hearted effort to improve the operating system. And while Android 13 has yet to reach beta status, a pretty good picture is emerging as to what the next version will look like.

There should be four betas before the stable launch, in August this year (2022). That, of course, isn’t set in stone, so don’t be surprised if Google changes that date for the official release.

Version aside, what kind of features should we expect to see in Android 13? Let’s dive in and find out.

The subtle evolution of Material You

According to the developer previews I reviewed, Material You will get some tweaks. The first will come through Auto Theme Icons. Now, before you get too excited, this feature will likely only be available for Pixel devices first. Eventually, however, the improved version of Auto-Themed Icons should make its way to other devices. What are Auto Theme Icons? The feature was released with Android 12 but was not as successful. Part of the problem was that many developers didn’t take advantage of this feature. With Android 13, users will be able to theme icons the same way you theme the rest of the operating system. It’s going to be a subtle change, but one that should bring a more complete look to the whole thing.

Other theme options that could come with Android 13 include four new palettes tied to specific shades and tints. These palettes are named Expressive, Spritz, Tonal Spot, and Vibrant, and should really bring out the look of your device.

I guess we’ll see some more subtle polish added to Material You, all of which will come together to make the look feel more cohesive and cohesive. But, again, don’t expect any major changes in the Material You realm. Given how new the UI is, it will be some time before there are major changes.

Improved functionality in Android 13

The real successes of Android 13 will likely come from improved features. Here are some of the possible improvements we will experience.

Improved QR code scanning

Currently, scanning the QR code is far from intuitive. You need to open Google Lens, point it at the QR code, then tap to interact. And the problem with some of the third-party QR code scanners is that some of them contain malicious code. With Android 13, a quick tile has been reported for a much improved QR code scanning experience. This means that when you need to scan a QR code, just pull down the notification shade and tap the quick tile to scan the code.

Improvements for Bluetooth audio

Android 13 will support Bluetooth LE Audio as well as the low complexity communication codec. These two new features will combine to allow Android to handle audio streaming via Bluetooth Low Energy, which will significantly reduce power consumption, compared to traditional BR/EDR audio systems.

The enhancements found in Bluetooth LE go far beyond simple low power consumption and will help enhance the experience of truly wireless headphones with isochronous channels, multi-streaming audio, and personal and location-based audio sharing.

Pan-Language Language Settings

For those who are multilingual, Google gives you special treatment. With the next release, you will be able to set a specific language to use for specific apps. For example, if the majority of customers you email speak English, you can set that language for the email app and the rest of the apps to your native language.

Quick pairing

Another big feature upgrade will come from Fast Pair, which lets you quickly pair a device to accessories. You will no longer have to go through the process of opening Settings, going to Connected Devices, and then tapping Pair New Device. When Android detects a new device, it automatically alerts you and asks if you want to pair it.

UWB support

Ultra-Wideband is a brand new technology that will allow your device to perform different functions like a car key and will help you easily locate devices that also include UWB support. Pixel 6 devices included the UWB antenna but did not support the feature in 12. Android 13 will bring this next evolution of mobile devices to life.

Improved security and performance in Android 13

With each version of Android, new security improvements are to be discovered. Here are some of the security highlights we might see in Android 13.

Photo picker

With Android 13, a new photo picker will be included which not only makes it easier to select photos from local and cloud sources, but will also make it more secure. Unlike the old photo picker, the new version will only allow access to the files you have selected.

Wi-Fi nearby

In current versions of Android, if an app needs to locate nearby Wi-Fi devices, it requires location permission, which for many is a security concern. Fortunately, in Android 13, Google is bringing a new runtime permission, called NEARBY_WIFI_DEVICES, which will give these apps the ability to locate Wi-Fi devices without needing location permission.

Notification permissions

Android 13 takes a nod to iOS and will make apps have to ask for permission before they can send notifications. The permissions prompt will appear when first running an app.

TARE

TARE stands for The Android Resource Economy and is a service that monitors how apps run in the background and what tasks they perform. TARE will be responsible for granting and revoking credits from applications to limit their ability to schedule work in the future.

Besides TARE, Android 13 will also have a built-in system to alert you when an app goes rogue and over-drains your battery.

And there you have some of the coolest new features coming to Android 13. Of course, a lot of that was based on the developer preview, so anything can change, and nothing is guaranteed just yet.

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