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Android 13 announced with better app themes and privacy, now available for testing

Android 13 announced with better app themes and privacy, now available for testing

Google's new Android 13 developer preview is meant for developers and testers, and it is available for Pixel 4, Pixel 5, and Pixel 6 devices.

Story highlights
  • Google has launched the first developer preview of Android 13.
  • Android 13 comes with better themes and customisability for app icons.
  • Google hopes to release the Android 13's official version later this year.

Android 12 is still in its early phases of adoption, but Google, like every year, is thinking ahead. Surprising Android app developers, Google has launched the first developer preview of Android 13, the next version of Android. This is merely a first look at the new operating system, which means there are not a lot of features revealed right now. But Google made sure it highlighted the interesting ones in Android 13.

Google's Android 13 has an upgraded theming option, better privacy features, better language controls, and granular permissions for apps. There are a lot of under-the-hood updates, as well. The biggest focus is on the interface, though. Android 12 was mainly about the Material You theme across the operating system, but with Android 13, Google is expanding customisability to the next level. The dynamic app icons are now available for all apps rather than those from Google. The theme icons is a feature that lets app icons adopt a colour related to the wallpaper, but also has support for monochromatic app icons.

Privacy is another focus area for Google, and with Android 13, it is taking a page out of Apple's playbook. In Android 13, users will be able to set what level of permission they want to give to an app in terms of access to the gallery app, among other things. A new photo picker will let the user give the app access to either the entire gallery or just a few selected photos that you can pick during this process. Apple's iOS 15 has this feature where you can define the permission for a particular app. But Google does not want to limit this feature to just Android 13 but it eventually wants to bring it to all phones running Android 11 and higher versions.

Google also highlighted some under-the-hood changes coming with Android 13. The Wi-Fi permission, for instance, has received a refresh and it now allows apps to discover and connect to Wi-Fi points without needing to determine the phone's location. The new Android version's better language preferences will let users set a language on a per-app basis, so while one app would use English, for example, the other one could be in Hindi. Google is also committed to changing how OS updates are delivered right now. It said it is continuing to invest in Project Mainline, which focuses on the delivery of updates via Google Play, not through OS updates.

The Android 13 developer preview is meant for developers and testers, so I would advise regular Android users not to install it. It is available for Pixel 4, Pixel 5, and Pixel 6 devices. Google plans to release more developer previews over the months of February and March, while betas may arrive sometime around April. The stable release of Android 13 may happen around June or July, but the official release will take place later in the year.