Now, for the twist: Unlike most Android betas, this inaugural Android 13 beta release still doesn’t have most of the software’s key features. It’s focused primarily on foundational elements and under-the-hood improvements, and outwardly, it’s pretty darn similar to the previews that preceded it. Honestly, it’s almost more like another developer preview than a beta — at least, in typical Android terms. (Aww…)
The initial beta version of Android 13 may appear unassuming, but don’t be fooled: If you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of interesting components in this latest version. First and foremost: Google has now released the first official beta version of Android 13 for this fall! If you have a current Pixel phone, you can download it right now and see all the new and exciting things Google has planned for our future. (Yay!)
When you step back and think about it, that’s probably no big surprise. Google’s colossal I/O developers’ conference is now a mere two weeks away, and that’s the time when Le Googlé traditionally takes the wraps off its flashiest new Android enhancements. The Android 13 development process started a skosh earlier than usual this year, so we technically reached that beta milestone sooner than usual — but for all intents and purposes, the big reveal is still ahead of us.
Here, specifically, are three big (and mostly still hidden!) reasons to be excited. Android 13 will set the stage for a better big-screen experience
After years of neglecting and basically giving up on the Android tablet form, Google’s bringing its focus back to big-screen Android computing in a big way with Android 13. All signs suggest the Android 13 release will build upon the big-screen optimizations introduced in the awkwardly named (and barely rolled out) Android 12L in-betweener “feature drop” Google worked on right after the launch of Android 12 last fall. And from traditional tablets to expanding foldable phones, Android 13’s arrival should usher in some incredibly noteworthy new options.
But wait! Don’t get too disappointed. Thanks to the way Android’s created, it’s possible to peek inside Google’s Android 13 code and get a glimpse at some still-under-wraps elements that are actively being developed. There’s no guarantee all of that stuff will make it into the final software in its exact current form, of course — and it’s also always possible Google’s got more surprises in store that we haven’t yet gotten wind of. But viewed together, these clues paint a pretty cohesive picture of what Android 13 is more than likely shaping up to be. And despite the fact that this week’s beta doesn’t give us much in the way of tangible new touches, it offers up a tantalizing preview of what’s almost certainly right around the corner.
Specifically, Android 13 will at long last start to optimize the core Android interface for larger screen experiences — erm, again. (Google briefly did this in the Android Honeycomb era of 2011, as the long-time Android nerds among us will recall, but then gave up on that notion a few short years later. Hey, what can we say? Sometimes, Google’s just gotta Google.)
That means when you’re using a tablet or a folded-out foldable phone with Android 13, you’ll see different elements on different halves of the screen and gain access to some powerful desktop-like multitasking tools — including a clearly Chrome-OS-inspired new taskbar that lets you access your favorite apps from anywhere and even drag ’em up to create an on-the-fly split-screen setup.