What you need to know
- Google has released the stable version of Android 13 to the Pixel phones.
- The latest Android version is also available on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).
- Android 13 will land on more devices from third-party OEMs later this year.
Google has been grooming Android 13 for prime time since releasing the first public beta in April, and today the stable version is finally available to the general public.
Android 13 is now making its way to Pixel devices starting today, in conjunction with its official release to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Later this year, it’ll launch on many of the best Android phones outside of the Pixel family, including those from Samsung, Asus, HMD Global, iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, Vivo, Xiaomi and more.
The latest version of Android is a modest upgrade from Android 12. This means there aren't any major new features, but there are a few tweaks here and there. The most notable improvement is the expansion of Material You's app color theming to third-party apps, app-level language settings, better privacy controls, and improved multitasking features.
Android 13's expanded color scheme matches the wallpaper you choose across all third-party apps. Previously, the app color-theming only supported Google apps, making Material You appear to be a half-baked style improvement. The latest update now makes your "home screen more cohesive and unique to your style," as Google puts it.
Another major change in Android 13 is the ability to set languages on individual apps. This means that you can now easily change languages within an app without affecting the system level — handy if you speak two different languages.
There's also a private photo picker that lets you select which photos to share with your apps, so you won't have to expose your entire media library. Android 13 also protects your clipboard from unauthorized access. Furthermore, you can prevent apps from sending unwanted notifications by configuring this preference immediately after download.
If you have supported headphones that support head tracking, Android 13 provides an "immersive listening experience on your Android phone or tablet" with Spatial Audio.
You can also stream your messaging apps to your Chromebook, so you can respond to a chat sent to your phone without interrupting your workflow. This feature supports many of the best messaging apps, such as Google Messages.
Soon, you'll be able to copy text and media from your Android phone and paste it to another device in a snap. But that's not the only multitasking feature available on Android 13: your tablet's taskbar has been updated, and you can now drag and drop any app in your library into split-screen mode.
Elsewhere, you get Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) audio support, which promises high fidelity audio without compromising battery life. The OS also introduces an updated media player tailored to your current music playback, more bedtime mode customizations, and better distinction between your palm and stylus pen register on tablets.
While this year's release isn't big on marquee features, Google has made a few nifty tweaks to Material You as well as improved privacy and security features.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.