Everything we know about Google’s next-gen operating system | #linux | #linuxsecurity


It feels like Android 12 has just been released, and the new OS still hasn’t made its way onto the vast majority of phones out there. But Google’s development cycle calls for a new Android version every year, and to ensure it’s free of bugs and applications are ready for it, the company usually opens up developer previews in February or March, with more fully-featured betas following later in the year. Given the open-source nature of Android and the fact that there are so many people involved in the massive project, there are quite a few things we already know about Android 13 long before its official release date.

Codename

All Android versions used to come with delicious, sweets-based codenames; remember Android 4.4 KitKat or Android 9 Pie? While Google doesn’t use these codenames for marketing purposes anymore, its developers still use them internally. For Android 13, this name appears to be Tiramisu, following up on the not-publicly used Snow Cone for Android 12, Red Velvet Cake for Android 11, and Android 10’s Quince Tart.

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Tap-to-transfer

Remember Android Beam, which allowed you to tap two phones to send links, files, and more to each other? It was replaced with Nearby Share, which doesn’t rely on NFC technology but instead on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct. But this tap-to-transfer method is just too handy and intuitive to vanish into Nirvana, and it looks like Google wants to resurrect it. As we exclusively covered, a similar method for sharing and playing media is bound to return to Android 13. At the moment, it’s codenamed “Media TTT” (tap to transfer), but it’s unlikely that Google will market it under this name.

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So far, we’ve only got our hands on some non-functional demo process created by Google, showcasing how you need to move closer to a device to send or even play media, so it’s possible that you’d also be able to use it to connect to future smart home devices a la Apple’s Home Pod. We don’t know which technology it will be using, but NFC and UWB seem like the obvious candidates.

Opt-in notifications

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Android has historically always been better at managing and displaying notifications than iOS, but there’s one thing we appreciate in Apple’s ecosystem — applications need to explicitly ask you for permission before they’re allowed to send notifications. It looks like Android 13 is set to follow suit, as XDA has spotted a new permission prompt asking you to allow notifications for newly installed apps.

QR code scanner

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Most of us tech-savvy folks know that we can just use our phones’ camera apps and point them at most QR code to scan it, but it looks like Google wants to make this a bit more obvious for those who might not be in on this. We exclusively covered that Android 13 could get a QR code scanning quick settings tile and some kind of lockscreen functionality. We’re unsure if this will just be a shortcut to a dedicated QR code-recognizing camera mode or if this will allow you to simply point your phone at a QR code while you’re on the lockscreen. In any case, with QR codes becoming so incredibly commonplace these days, anything that will make it easier to interact with them is probably a welcome addition for those who don’t live and breathe Android like we do.


‘Panlingual’ per-app language settings for apps

This is an exciting one for me, being someone who juggles English and German on my phone. As we exclusively covered, Android 13 could introduce an option that allows you to set your preferred language on a per-app basis. This might not sound too significant if you’re someone who can confidently use any and all features of an app in English in the US, but internationally, there are tons of apps that are optimized for some other native language, with their English versions being a badly translated afterthought. If you’re someone who still prefers to use their device in English but would love for some apps to work in a different language you’re just as fluent in, Android 13 might be a game changer. For me, that would be incredibly helpful for things like banking, public transit, and car sharing.


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Our friends over at XDA managed to get their hands on early screenshots showcasing how this will work, but we’ve since got some of our own (pictured above). As you can see, a new system settings section in Languages & input should give you the option to pick your preferred language for each app installed on your phone.

Battery measures

Android 12 introduced new draconian battery saving measures that make it even harder for apps to run in the background, summarized under the so-called PhantomProcessKiller. While this helps keep rogue developers in check, it also leads to unintended consequences for apps that absolutely need to run multiple heavy processes in the background, like the Linux terminal emulator Termux. Android 13 might introduce a toggle in developer options that will allow power users to turn off this measure for edge cases just like Termux.


Google is also developing a new feature called “TARE,” short for “The Android Resource Economy.” It’s supposed to monitor how apps run in the background and which tasks they perform, awarding and taking credits from apps to limit their ability to schedule unlimited jobs for the future. Since this is still in active development, we’ll likely have to wait until Google gives us proper documentation to understand exactly how it works.

UWB support

Ultra-wideband, or UWB for short, is an exciting technology enabling a whole slew of new applications: It can turn your phone into a car key, helps you find lost gadgets that also support UWB, and augments features initially made possible by NFC and Bluetooth. The Pixel 6 Pro already has a UWB antenna on board, but it doesn’t use it to its full potential just yet. Here, Android 13 is supposed to add a generic hardware abstraction layer that will give all Android devices a shared foundation for how UWB works, making it easier for all manufacturers to implement these futuristic features.

For the Pixel 6 Pro, a few UWB features will make their way into the Android 12 January security patch, but the full system-wide abstraction layer should only come in Android 13.

Support for Bluetooth Low-Energy Audio

As spotted by Mishaal Rahman, Android 13 could be the first version of Android to introduce fully-fleshed out support for Bluetooth Low-Energy Audio. The standard is meant as a replacement for regular Bluetooth audio streaming, and it brings a whole slew of improvements to the table: lower energy consumption at the same audio quality, multi-stream support to send signals to both of your earbuds at the same time (or to multiple headphones/speakers at once), and full support for the features introduced in Google’s hearing aid protocol.

Of course, devices will need to be equipped with the appropriate hardware to provide you with Bluetooth LE Audio streaming, but this will only be a question of time as new phones, tablets, headphones, and speakers are released.

Home button Assistant toggle

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Gesture navigation may be the future of interacting with your phone, but many people still prefer the three-button navigation of old, whether for accessibility reasons or just because they’re used to it. The three-button navigation is in for the return of an old option in Android 13. According to leaked screenshots in our possession, there will be an option to disable the gesture that lets you long-press the home button for Assistant. That makes sense for the Pixel 6 series, as the new phones have switched to invoking the Assistant by long-pressing the power button, removing the option to long-press the home button for Assistant altogether.

Output picker changes

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Android 10 introduced an output picker for audio and other media, allowing you to easily choose how you’d like to listen to something — on your phone, your wireless headphones, or your Bluetooth speakers? It looks like Android 13 could give us a redesign of this interface, complete with a much prettier volume slider for each connected device. Right now, this is still under active development, so the look might still change significantly, but these are the screenshots we managed to get our hands on.

Lockscreen

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Android 12’s new Material You design and all the interface changes coming in tow have left the community divided, with some wishing for a way to tone things down just a bit. If you’re particularly annoyed by the overblown clock that shows up on your lockscreen when you don’t have notifications on Pixel phones, this Android 13 change might be for you: Google appears to be working on a toggle for disabling the huge clock, labelled as “Double-line clock.”

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Another change possibly coming to the lockscreen (or, more specifically, to the keyguard where you enter your PIN or pattern) is the addition of an account switcher. We can’t confirm whether this will come to all form factors or, say, only tablets, but it’s a much appreciated change nonetheless. It will make it much easier to switch to another user right when logging in on shared devices.



Given that Google usually releases the first developer preview of new Android versions in February or March, we likely won’t have to wait too long to see the next-gen OS in action. However, we only expect the bulk of changes to be publicly acknowledged in May, when Google usually holds its I/O developer conference. It’s almost safe to assume that we’ll have a lot more rumors, leaks, and hacks to look at before that happens, though.

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