We saw in the first Android 13 developer preview the ability to match non-Google app icons to your home screen wallpaper, new permissions to reduce notification spam, and new options to limit the photos and videos your apps allow. In January, we wrote that Google had plans to spend this year catching up with Apple’s ecosystem consolidation, and the official Android 13 release provides more proof of that.
Android 13, Android’s major update of the year, was officially released today for Google’s Pixel phones, the search giant announced today. Following the release of Android 12 in October last year and Android 11 in September 2020, the annual update will be officially released a little earlier than usual. If you’ve been following the Android 13 beta, the list of updates coming with this year’s version of Android will be familiar.
The update also includes head-tracking spatial audio, which appears to come from a fixed point in space when you wear compatible headphones and move your head, similar to the feature Apple added to AirPods. Support is included. Today’s post doesn’t say exactly which headphones this will work with, but Google previously announced an update to the Pixel Buds Pro to offer spatial audio support.
Other Android 13 features include the ability to set the language for each app, a redesigned media player that adjusts its appearance to what you’re listening to, better sound quality at lower bitrates and less latency. Includes support for Bluetooth Low Energy to reduce, and improvements to massive multitasking. -Screen devices with drag-and-drop support for multitasking and improved palm rejection when using the pen.
Then there’s the ability to stream messages from apps like Google Messages directly to your Chromebook, much like iMessage on your Mac. This is another feature Google detailed in his January. In addition to its own messaging app, one of his ads for Google also shows a collaboration with messaging app Signal, and the company says the feature will work with “many other favorite messaging apps.” This update also includes the ability to copy and paste content from your Android phone to your Android tablet and vice versa.
On this support page, Google has categorized the Pixels (devices in the Pixel 4, 5, and 6 families) that are currently getting the Android 13 update, along with a long list of fixes they contain. The developer site, which allows images to be downloaded before updates are automatically pushed to devices, points out that upgrading to Android 13 with at least a factory image is a two-way street. Flashback on Android 12 is not possible.