What you need to know
- Google has launched the first Beta for Android 13.
- The beta includes many new features found within the Android 13 Developer Preview and new granular permissions.
- The beta is available starting today on eligible Pixel smartphones.
After just two developer preview releases, Google has launched the first Android 13 beta. This is the first of four planned beta releases before the final stable version launches later this year.
As expected, the beta grants early access to features that are likely to arrive in the stable Android 13 release. This includes notification permissions, per-app language options, an improved photo picker, support for themed icons, and more.
With the first beta, Google is furthering its efforts on user privacy by introducing more granular permissions for media. This means users will have to grant media apps permission to specific media types instead of giving blanket approval for storage access. However, an app requesting permission for both images and video will display a single dialog for both.
Beta 1 likewise includes some developer-focused additions, such as improved Keystore and KeyMint error reporting. There are also new routing APIs that allow the OS to check audio files and make sure the device (phone speakers, Bluetooth earbuds, Nest speaker, etc.) can play it without any changes. This will help media app developers determine the best format for their audio.
Unlike previous years, Google has opted for a shorter developer preview time, launching the beta a month sooner this year and ahead of Google I/O. It makes sense that Google would spend less time in the early preview phase as Android 13 is expected to be a follow-up to Android 12L, which is set for release later this year on many of the best foldable phones and tablets.
Google says it will provide more insight into new Android 13 features at this year's Google I/O, as expected, but until then, we'll play around with the first beta to see what else we can uncover ahead of the second update in May.
Given the slightly shorter developer preview period and the fact that it will reach Platform Stability sooner, it's possible we could see Android 13 launch earlier than Android 12 did last year to give more OEMs time to update their devices before the end of 2022 (but we won't hold our breath).
For now, those interested in trying out the beta can download and install it on their eligible Pixel smartphones after enrolling in the beta program. Of course, the software isn't final, so we recommend not installing it on your primary smartphone.
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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.