On August 15, 2022, Google released the 13th major iteration of the Android platform. This release comes just slightly earlier in the year than did Android 12 and serves to add some serious polish to the big changes that came along.
For those anxious to get your hands on this latest incarnation of the Android platform, that time has either already come, or you may have an extended wait on your hands. Either way, once Android 13 makes its way to your device, you will be glad for the upgrade.
In this TechRepublic cheat sheet, we’ll introduce what Android 13 is, when you should expect it, and what new features and improvements to expect. This cheat sheet will be updated as necessary and will serve as a guidepost to Google’s latest mobile operating system (OS).
What is Android 13?
Android 13 (code name Tiramisu) is the 2022 release of Google’s mobile operating system. This latest iteration of the platform arrived after four beta cycles and a preview release that landed in February 2022.
Android itself is the most widely used mobile operating system on the planet, with an 86.2% global market share. That global market share has held steady in the 80s since 2014, with its lowest rank being 81.1% in 2014.
When you break down the market share by country, you do find Android’s hold on consumers to wane considerably. For example, in the U.S., Android has a 48.5% share, while iOS holds 51.2%. As of May 2022, Android 11 was the most widely-used version of the platform, with 28.3%. That, of course, will most likely change once more handsets start picking up the 13th release and more devices migrate to 12.
SEE: iCloud vs. OneDrive: Which is best for Mac, iPad and iPhone users? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
One of the issues facing Android 13 is that it stands in the shadow of Android 12, which brought about one of the biggest changes to the platform since its inception. Material You introduced a brand new look and feel for Android, which gave it a much-needed refresh to bring it in line with current aesthetics.
What does that mean for Android 13? It could mean that, at least for some users, the latest release of the operating system will be a disappointment. The devil, of course, is in the details. There are plenty of new features and changes to get excited about.
Android 13 release dates
Android 13 began rolling out to Pixel devices on August 15, 2022. However, that doesn’t mean all Pixel users received the update on that day. Case in point, it’s now three days after the announced release, and my Pixel 6 Pro has yet to receive the OTA (over-the-air) update. I certainly could side-load the install, but I’ve learned, over the years, that’s not always the best route to a successful upgrade.
Nevertheless, Android 13 has officially been released and will arrive for supported Pixel devices first. Those supported Pixel phones include everything from the Pixel 4 on up. So, if you’re a Pixel 1, 2 or 3 owner, it’s time to upgrade if you want Android 13.
What features come with Android 13?
This is what you really want to know. And there’s plenty to see in this category — only, much of it might be a bit more subtle than Android fans were hoping for. Be that as it may, here’s a short list of the more exciting features to be coming along with the new release.
Three new Material You color schemes
Developers, manufacturers and users will now have access to three new “tonal spot” colors, namely Vibrant (supplemental accents), Expressive (wider range of colors that extend to the background) and Spritz (monochromatic theme). This addition will be quite subtle, and some users might not even notice it.
Improved launcher search
This addition will most likely be limited to Pixel phones only and will serve as a much-needed improvement over the previous search tool. With the revamped functionality, users will be able to issue searches:
- On-device actions
- Play Store apps
There will also be a gesture component to the search, which will react differently, based on whether you swipe up from the bottom or simply tap the search bar. Users will also be able to pin search results to the Android home screen.
The notifications also receive some extra attention by way of a new opt-in system. As of Android 13, the system will no longer allow an app to display notifications unless a user explicitly gives permission. Any time a new application is installed, when it is first opened, a permissions pop-up will appear (Figure A), requiring the user to allow or disallow notifications for that app.
Faster access to QR code scanning
In previous incarnations, scanning a QR code meant either installing a third-party app or using Google Assistant. Either way, it was never the most efficient method. Now, users will have access to a QR code Quick Settings Tile (Figure B).
Tap the tile, and the built-in QR Code Scanner will open.
With Android 13, users can now set their desired languages on a per-app basis. Say, for instance, you have associates that you frequently message who live in Germany. If that’s the case, you can set the language for the Messages app to German. The only caveat to this feature is that it must be enabled within the app, so users probably won’t see the feature immediately.
Better battery information
Android 12 did an amazing job at improving the battery life of Android devices. Case in point, the infamous Pixel 4 devices suffered mightily under the strain of an underpowered battery. With Android 11, the Pixel 4 was lucky to make it through a quarter to half of a day. Once upgraded to Android 12, the battery life greatly improved.
With Android 13, one very important addition has been made. When an app is causing excessive battery drain, which I’ve experienced several times, the system will alert you with a silent notification. Having been alerted to the situation, you can then force close the app or restart your device to resolve the issue.
Ultra-Wideband (UWB) is a new technology that makes it possible for a mobile device to act as a car key and as a locator for lost devices, and it helps improve both NFC and Bluetooth connections.
The one previous issue with UWB support is that the device must have had a built-in UWB antenna, which the Pixel 6 Pro does. With the release of Android 13, there’s a new hardware abstraction layer that adds this functionality, so all Android devices can implement UWB.
Bluetooth Low-Energy Audio
Standard Bluetooth audio streams have always been problematic, especially when it comes to multi-stream support and energy consumption. With Android 13, Bluetooth Low-Energy Audio is now fully realized.
With this, users will experience lower energy usage while still enjoying the same quality of audio, the ability to simultaneously stream to multiple headphones and speakers, and full support for Google’s new Bluetooth hearing aid protocol. This means hearing aids will enjoy more reliable connections to Android than with previous incarnations.
More customizable lock screen
When Material You hit devices, some users complained that the lock-screen clock was a bit “extra.” It was huge, especially when there were no notifications to display. Android 13 gives users a toggle to disable that massive clock. In Settings > Display > Lock Screen, you’ll find an ON/OFF toggle for the double-line clock (Figure C).
Toggle the double-line clock to Off, and say goodbye to the huge lock-screen clock.
Improved photo picker
The new release adds a special photo picker for including images in messages. Instead of the app opening to a full-blown photo picker, a more streamlined version will appear which will help preserve your privacy and only make certain the app only has access to the photos you select. This new feature has yet to make it to every service, as developers have to integrate it for it to appear.
Android 13 privacy and security
Aside from the opt-in permissions, Google has gone out of its way to make privacy and security a no-brainer. The new OS will impose more limitations on apps and give more control to users over what permissions are granted and what data can be accessed. Along those same lines, Android 13 requires apps to request permission to access various file types, such as audio, images and videos.
SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)
Another security feature found in Android 13 is that the system will automatically delete clipboard contents after a certain interval. By doing this, apps will not have access to older items in the clipboard, which has caused security issues in the past. This also means users will be less likely to accidentally share a piece of copied text with the wrong person.
Along with the opt-in app permissions, Android 13 will automatically revoke permissions from apps that haven’t been used for a long period.
Google has completely reworked how security updates are handled. With the new Google System Updates framework, the operating system is broken down into components, so updates can be sent to devices for specific “modules” instead of having to update the entire OS. This means faster rollouts of updates and faster patching.
Finally, Google has committed to rewriting some of the code base for critical components in more secure languages such as Rust and has developed the Google Play SDK Index to provide extra transparency for the most-used software development kits (SDKs).
What phones are able to get Android 13?
As usual, the new release will first be available for Pixel devices. Expect the rollout to Pixel 4, 5 and 6 devices to finish up during the third quarter of 2022, and the wider release for Samsung, OnePlus and other manufacturers is expected to begin in Q4 of 2022 and trickle into Q1 of 2023.
The Pixel 7 will be the first device released with Android 13, which should become available as soon as October. Google has never been quite accurate with its Android release dates. Even knowing that, I would expect that all Pixel devices will have Android 13 by the end of August and all other devices by the start of 2023.
How to download Android 13
Your best bet is to update Android with the OTA option. This is the safest and easiest method of upgrading. To check your phone for an update, go to Settings > System > System Update, and tap Check For Update (Figure D).
If you’d prefer to not wait, you can always sideload Android 13 with the help of the Android SDK and the adb and fastboot commands. You will need to download the proper image for your device and then gain access to recovery mode on your device.
Although it may seem tempting to sideload Android 13, I wouldn’t recommend it. I have had a couple of instances where this method failed, and I wound up with a bricked device. Ergo, your best bet is to wait for the OTA upgrade. Trust me when I say it’s worth the wait.
And even if you forget to constantly check for an available update, the Android system will eventually alert you that the update has been downloaded in the background, so all you’ll have to do is reboot your device to apply it.
Subscribe to the Google Weekly Newsletter
Learn how to get the most out of Google Docs, Google Cloud Platform, Google Apps, Chrome OS, and all the other Google products used in business environments.
Android 13 introduces a predictive back gesture for Android devices such as phones, large screens, and foldables. Android 13 adds built-in support for LE Audio, so developers should get the new capabilities for free on compatible devices.What is the special feature of Android 13? ›
Android 13 introduces a predictive back gesture for Android devices such as phones, large screens, and foldables. Android 13 adds built-in support for LE Audio, so developers should get the new capabilities for free on compatible devices.What is Android 13 Easter egg? ›
Tap on Android version until an analog clock appears. Turn the hands to 1:00 (which is also 13:00 for Android 13). Suddenly you'll see the clock turn into the Android 13 badge surrounded by circles in various sizes. Tapping on the circles (or bubbles, if you prefer) turns them into emojis.What are the requirements for Android 13? ›
Android 13 (Go edition) now requires a minimum of 2GB of RAM, up from 1GB, plus 16GB of storage, up from 8GB.Is Android 13 worth it? ›
However, Google's latest OS version has become less significant regarding visual changes. Android "Tiramisu" 13 is undoubtedly worth upgrading, as it brings critical security and performance improvements.What is the major difference between Android 12 and 13? ›
Bigger Navigation Bar
A small but noticeable change in Android 13 is that it features a slightly thicker navigation bar compared to Android 12. The new navigation bar, even though it looks a bit like iOS, is more usable and looks better than the previous generation.
The first beta version of Android 14 was released to beta testers on April 12, 2023. Beta 2 was released on May 10, 2023. Android 14 Beta 3 reached platform stability on June 7, 2023. Beta 4 was released on July 11, 2023.What is cat control in Android? ›
Tap on “Cat Controls,” then select the water bubbler, food bowl, and toy to add these options to your power control menu. These controls will let you attract cats to your device. Each cat that shows up has a different number and color, and you'll see your new friend in the notification shade.Does Android 13 have a hidden game? ›
ANDROID 13 phones have a hidden Easter egg that will give your device a makeover. With every new version of Android phones, Google likes to play a little game of their own with users by hiding a trick for you to uncover.Does Android 13 use more RAM? ›
- android 13 uses 2GB of ram to simply turn on with no background apps in use. this is more then windows 11 uses which is 1.5GB. Older androids used 1GB of ram.
Android 13, the latest Android version at the time of writing, requires at least 2GB RAM and 16GB storage.What is the minimum RAM for Android? ›
4GB is now considered the bare minimum for a new device. No matter how much RAM your device has, it's a finite resource that has to be managed. Whenever you open a new app, it needs to occupy a portion of this memory.Does Android 13 drain battery? ›
Battery drain problem is common in Android 13 devices, as many users have reported the issue. However, we have suggested some effective solutions here. We hope our solutions will help you eliminate the battery drain problem on your Android device.Does Android 13 improve battery life? ›
Removing apps from the background and foreground seems to be the main focus of Android 13 and its effectiveness can help users get a longer life out of their phone's battery.Will Android 13 slow down my phone? ›
It seems like the phone is ever-so-slightly-slower following the Android 13/One UI 5 update. Splash screens of various apps consistently appear for a few split seconds longer than before. In fact, at least one app that used to launched instantly now shows a splash screen for a fraction of a second before launching.Why should I upgrade to Android 13? ›
Permissions, Privacy, and Security
This update also brings with it several new permission and privacy improvements that make the OS much less intrusive and vastly more comfortable to use. With Android 13, apps ask for permission before they can send you notifications.
One UI 5.0 comes with a watermarking tool inside the Camera, better background app management and improved optimization, a redesigned Settings app (in places), improvements to Samsung DeX and Multi-Window, per-contact call backgrounds, better integration with Bixby OCR inside various Samsung apps, a new lock screen ...How powerful is Android 13? ›
Re: How strong was Super Android 13? His power level was like 1 million, probably close to frieza, maybe stronger than him a bit.What is Android 13 vs 13 go? ›
Now based on Android 13, Go Edition does with some features that Google includes within stock Android. As such, Android 13 (Go Edition) uses less RAM than its full-fat counterpart, needs less internal storage to run and has lower processor requirements too.