The first beta of Android 13 is now available for testing on your Pixel smartphone. The beta arrives after two developer previews, and while specific issues have been sorted out enough to use this version of the software as a daily driver, keep in mind that the code is still in development.
It should be noted that this is not the final version of the beta software and that at least two more updates will be released before the complete release of Android 13 later this fall. If you don’t want to install it right away, you can wait until the next update when things will be a little more tuned.
If you decide to participate in the beta, take some time to test out the new features. Some of the changes are visible, such as Android’s improved media playback window and more Material You options. Many aspects of the design have been changed for a better user experience, such as adding smart home controls to the lock screen. I combed through Android 13 to uncover all of these major and little feature changes. So far, here’s what has struck me.
Media playback that looks better
When Android shoved the media controls up in the Quick Settings, I could see where it was trying to take us, but it never fully clicked for me. Android 13 improves on what Android 12 attempted with Material You. The new media playback box is sleek and elegant, and you’ll want to capture a screenshot of it because it looks so good with the album art in the background. My only concern is that the skip buttons are so little in comparison to the Play/Pause floating action button.
The ability to change the icons and text at the same time
It isn’t easy to get Android to look the way you want it to, especially with the Pixel launcher. Android formerly separated the display size and text settings. However, with Android 13, the two settings are combined to make it easier to make the interface more legible. As you modify, a live preview appears on the screen.
On your Android 13 device, go to Settings > Display > Display Size and Text.
Quicker QR code scanner
Go ahead and scoff at me. But I’m sure you’ve been utilizing your camera’s built-in QR code scanner more than you realize. Every time I eat out, I have to scan a code on a card to get the restaurant menu. Even the Nintendo Switch requires me to scan a QR code in order to connect and take screenshots.
That’s probably why Android 13 pledged to be faster at snapping and loading the information associated with a QR code. It will also provide further information on which app the QR code requires access to before linking out. You can enable this function as a Quick Tile in Quick Settings to gain access to it.
Screensavers for the Lock Screen
Take a look at the new Android 13 screensavers! The rumour is that Google will ultimately add other functionality to the lock screen screensavers, similar to how there are quick-tap shortcuts for things like steps and battery life on Wear OS. However, as they currently stand, the screensavers are just decorative, and they will activate when you charge your smartphone.
More colour possibilities for Material You
Hidden code in the Android 13 Developer Preview hinted that Material Your colour theme picker will expand, and you can see the results in the Android 13 Beta. More wallpaper-matching accent colours are available in the Settings panel, under Wallpaper & Style.
These icons were also featured in the Android 13 Developer Preview. They go well with the rest of the Material You theme, and the new design paradigm feels a lot more professional with matching app icons. If you’ve downloaded the beta, be sure to enable it in your device’s settings panel.
App recommendations in the App Drawer
I overlooked the first row of apps that served as a shortcut to my most-used ones. This is something I’m used to seeing on other Android launchers, and I’m delighted to see it return in the Android 13 beta. You may see if they’re enabled by going to Home > Suggestions. In the next box, make sure “Suggestions in all apps list” is turned on.
New clipboard assistant
The stock Android interface’s clipboard has always been difficult to utilize. I prefer what Google is working on in Android 13, which opens a small dialogue box that allows you to do more with your clippings than ban them to the clipboard in Gboard or somewhere else.
When you copy text or images from the internet on Android 13, the system displays a tiny clipboard widget in the bottom left corner, where you may edit the text or make changes to an image before sending it somewhere else. Swipe aside to deal with what you’ve copied later in Gboard. It’s far more convenient than switching between apps.
Smart home controls on the lock screen
With all of Google’s efforts to tempt us to smarten up our homes. You’d think they’d have worked out how to properly present smart home controls without hiding them behind another screen or a pull-down window sooner.
Google’s solution is to place the device controls on the lock screen. This is great since it makes it much easier to turn on the lights or adjust the temperature without having to unlock my phone or swipe around. I particularly appreciate this method because I can use it for any guest gadget I’ve set up to assist any guests or family members sleeping over. So they don’t have to manually turn off the lights. It’s not natural to swipe around a smartphone to do all of this.
If you’re concerned about privacy or someone interfering with your IoT-enabled house. You don’t have to utilize smart home controls. If you don’t want others spying in your smart home, make sure “Control from locked device” is turned off.
Bluetooth LE and spatial audio
I was unable to experiment with spatial audio on the Android 13 beta. However, there are certain things to look forward to once the program is completely operational. According to the Esper blog, there is evidence that spatial audio with head tracking is included in the operating system bundle.
Bluetooth LE compatibility has also been introduced to Android 13, while it first appeared in the last development version. This will minimize the power consumption of all of your wireless headphones and gadgets while also improving audio quality.
Soon to come: Languages of Apps
I was unable to find a way to alter the language of an app on my own. However, we learned in the initial developer preview that Google will allow Android 13 users the opportunity to choose languages on a per-app basis. Users who frequently transition between languages and dialects will benefit from this functionality. The functionality should ultimately appear under the App Languages area. But I couldn’t find it on the Pixel 6 Pro that had been installed with the beta.