Just days before the end of April, Google has met its original release window with the arrival of Android 13 Beta 1. This switches the track from Developer Preview to Beta, which means that it’s a little less likely to have issues and that it’s easier to install than before.
Unlike last year’s complete overhaul, Android 13 seems primarily focused on boosting privacy and security. Today’s blog post specifically highlights developer productivity and continued support for tablets and foldables among the company’s priorities. Much of this release is made up of features Google announced earlier this year, including the notification permissions and per-app language support that first debuted with DP2 in March. However, the company has several new features worth checking out — especially if you’re a developer.
Fitting with Google’s focus on privacy, Android 13 now uses granular permissions for any app requiring media file access. Rather than requesting access to all media file types, any app accessing your photos, videos, or audio files will have to ask the user for access to all three of those respective types. It might not be the most exciting addition to Android, but making it easier to ensure that some random ringtone app from the Play Store isn’t able to view your photos is a big boost to privacy.
Thankfully, Google has bundled these prompts for users, which should prevent them from feeling overwhelmed when you first launch a new app. These changes should pair well with that new iOS-like photo picker first announced with Android 13 DP1.
A couple of new audio routing APIs are included in Beta 1, capable of generating a list of devices that can currently play a specific media file and showing whether a user can play the audio stream back directly. These options could tie in with the tap-to-transfer feature we exclusively reported on back in January, which would allow users to move playback between devices. We still don’t know a lot about this tool, including whether these APIs actually tie into it, but it’s something we’ll be keeping an eye on as we test future beta releases.
Finally, error reporting in Keystore and KeyMint is now more detailed and accurate. A new exception class hierarchy displays the cause of the error, whether it’s a system/key issue, and whether attempting to re-run the action again will properly work. This change should allow developers to better identify problems with the app’s key generation, and whether a new key is needed to continue.
With today’s release, we’re one step closer to the official launch of Android 13, still planned for sometime after July. If you have a compatible Pixel (Pixel 4 or later), jumping in should be as easy as opting your phone in at the Android Beta Program site. Unfortunately, Google’s continued Android 12 QPR beta program has made this a bit more complicated than in years past.
If you aren’t currently active in a beta program, select an eligible device and choose Android 13 from the list of available betas. If you were previously enrolled in the Android 12 beta — and, as such, you’re currently receiving QPR beta releases — you’ll need to opt out before rejoining for Beta 1. Google warns that this might require wiping your device.
You can still manually install sideloadable images for Android 13 the old-fashioned way — it’s faster if you’re impatient. Those already on Android 13 preview releases should see an OTA to Beta 1 landing soon.
Here’s everything new in Android 13 Beta 1
- Google now allows anyone with a Treble-compliant phone to try out Android 13, no waiting required, all through the use of Generic System Images.
- In Android 13 DP2, Google renamed Do Not Disturb to “Priority mode,” the latest change in a long history of surface-level tweaks to a mainstay feature. It seems like Google realized this would only confuse users, as the “Priority mode” branding is nowhere to be seen in Beta 1. If you weren’t part of the developer preview program, you wouldn’t notice any changes.
- The media player present in both the notification tray and on your lock screen has a squiggly new playback bar, which moves and grooves alongside whatever you’re actively listening to at that moment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sync with your music.
- Those new Material You themes we first shared back in January are finally live. These new variants give you sixteen different dynamic options to choose from, up from just four in Android 12.
- The app drawer on big screen devices now shows app suggestions, a major improvement over the initial changes first introduced with Android 12L. It could point to some upcoming hardware from Google itself.
- Android’s smart home lock screen controls will finally work without requiring the device to be unlocked first. Unfortunately, app developers will have to enable support for this, so we can’t try it just yet.
- The new clipboard editor first spotted in DP2 is now live for everyone. Not only does it offer a complete design overhaul, but it makes it simple to edit copied text without having to re-copy anything.
- There’s some new evidence pointing to that rumored detachable Nest Hub, with strings of code mentioning a “dock manager service” and updated documentation that seems to showcase some sort of dock.
- Android 13 broke on-device search from the app drawer, but it might be for the best — we think there’s something even cooler coming down the line.
- Per-app language settings, which first arrived on Android 13 DP2, are missing from this beta release without any explanation.
- The Pixel 6 might be picking up some spatial audio capabilities with Android 13.
Android 13’s squiggly media player dances to the music with you
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