At Google I/O this morning the latest in upcoming features for Android 13 have been announced, alongside a new Beta version for Pixel owners to try out.
Google unveiled their Android 13 Developer Preview earlier this year and their latest Beta build focuses again on Privacy and Security, as well as offering some personalisation options building on the Material You theming from Android 12.
The keynote this morning brought a number of complementary announcements touching on Wear OS, Chromebooks, Chromecast and Tablets as well as updates on smart home with Matter and the re-introduction of Google Wallet.
Privacy and Security
File access and Photo Picker
In Android 13, Google is giving you more control over what you share with apps. Instead of just letting your apps access all of your files and media, the files can now use categories like Photos and Video, or Music & Audio.
You can also use the new photo picker to tell apps exactly which files you will allow them access to, without sharing your entire library with them. Perfect for those meme creation apps that don’t really need access to your photos or music.
It’s pretty boring talking about app permissions, but with the latest update in Android 13 you can now authorise – or not – which apps are now allowed to notify you. Want to use an app, but don’t care about it’s pushy, intrusive notifications reminding you of its latest features? Well, now you can just not allow it permission!
Google is also helping with refining previous permissions, including removing the requirement to grant location permissions just to enable Wi-Fi scanning.
You will also find your clipboard is now more friendly to your privacy. Building on Androids ability to notify you when an app accesses the clipboard, in Android 13 the clipboard history will be automatically cleared after a short period of time, so apps are pre-emptively blocked from nabbing your info.
Combined Security and Privacy Dashboard
The introduction of a Privacy Dashboard in Android 12 was a big deal for giving you simple access to your privacy settings, but in Android 13 Google is bringing a combined Security & Privacy settings page to show you all your settings in one place.
The dashboard will be colour coded for a clearer brief on your status, outlining where you can improve your security or privacy and offering guidance and steps on how to do so.
RCS Encryption for Group Chat
Google has been pushing hard for the SMS replacement known as Rich Communication Services (RCS) for a number of years with limited success. Google is adding another layer to the service, bringing improved encryption to group message chats.
Previously your one-to-one RCS chats have been covered by end-to-end encryption, but group chats have not. Later this year, Google will begin trialing end-to-end encryption for group chats in an open Beta. Hopefully this will spur on adoption of RCS
The introduction of the Material You theming from Android 12, gave a fresh new look to Android letting you achieve a more consistent aesthetic for your device. With Android 13, Google is extending this to third party apps, letting you select ‘Themed Icons’ for supported apps to begin matching your device’s Material You colour scheme.
Per App Language Support
As a multicultural country, Australia has a wealth of multilingual people and Google is enabling them to use their language of choice in their apps, even if that means different languages in different apps.
This means you can talk to your bank app in one language, but keep in touch in messaging apps in another. You’ll be able to specify which language to use in which app from the settings page.
For music lovers, the media controls, now incorporating album artwork into the controls for a fresh new look on your lock screen.
Android 13 Beta
Of course all these new features sound great, so when can you try them out? Well, Google is currently offering the Android 13 Beta for select Pixel phones from the Pixel 4 and above, which you can access with an Over The Air (OTA) update by joining the Beta program.
If you’re not keen to play around with Beta software, the full release of Android 13 is due around August/September according to the timeline.