Photo Credit: Google
Android 13 Developer Preview 1 is now out to let developers experience the first look of Android's next release. Google is designing Android 13 with keeping “privacy and security as well as developer productivity” at the centre stage. It is called "Tiramisu" — named after an Italian dessert. The new Android version comes just weeks after the release of Android 12L that was mainly aimed to offer better support for larger screens. Android 13 Developer Preview 1 is meant for app developers to let them start making their apps ready for the next major Android update. It is initially available for select Google Pixel devices. Developers can, though, also experience it through the Android Emulator in Android Studio.
Google announced through a blog post that the Android 13 Developer Preview 1 can be installed on the Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 5, Pixel 5a 5G, Pixel 6, and the Pixel 6 Pro. Notably, the Pixel 3 series is not compatible with the Android 13 Developer Preview as it is no longer able to receive any new Android version and security updates. Similar is the case with the Pixel 3a series. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are also not compatible with the developer preview of Android 13 as both models are reaching the stage of end-of-software support in May.
System images for all the eligible devices are available for download. Alternatively, the first developer preview of Android 13 can be installed on a computer through the Android Emulator in Android Studio. Google has also released Generic System Images (GSIs) for broader testing.
It is important to note that the Android 13 Developer Preview 1 release is specifically meant for developers and is not intended for end consumers. You are, therefore, advised to proceed with its download only on a secondary device.
Alongside announcing the latest developer preview, Google has detailed the release timeline for Android 13 to help developers keep their apps ready by the time the new operating system will be available to consumers. You can check the timeline below.
It is worth pointing out here that Google has decided to have just two developer preview releases of Android 13. This is fewer than the usual plan of bringing three developer preview releases. To give further reference, there were three developer previews of Android 12 last year. Reducing the developer release count would help Google accelerate the rollout of the new Android update for end consumers.
After the last beta release in July, Google may have a release candidate to test all the basic parameters before bringing Android 13 to users. We can, though, expect Android 13 to debut as an update at least on Google Pixel phones and will be available to device manufacturers sometime as early as August. This is one month before the usual September release.
Unlike Android 12 that brought a number of tweaks to the interface level, Android 13 seems to improve the experience introduced by the last release. The new Android release is also aimed to enhance user privacy and security as well as provide developer productivity to boost app experiences.
With privacy in focus, Android 13 introduces a system photo picker that will allow users to share specific photos and videos with apps while keeping their other media files protected. Google calls the new photo picker as a standard and optimised way for users to securely share both local and cloud-based photos.
Android already has a document picker that allows users to share specific documents with an app, without letting the app to view all media files on the device. This has been extended to photos and videos through the photo picker.
Apps will be able to use the photo picker APIs to access the shared photos and videos, without requiring any permissions to view all media files. The experience will also be broadened over time to more Android users through Google Play system updates for devices running Android 11 and higher (except the Android Go versions).
Android 13 also brings a runtime permission called NEARBY_WIFI_DEVICES for apps that manage the device's connections to nearby access points over Wi-Fi. This will enable apps to discover and connect to nearby devices over Wi-Fi, without letting them have access to user location.
Google has also introduced themed app icons that are a part of Android 13. It essentially extends the existing Material You dynamic colour functionality that is a part of Android 12 to let users customise app icons on the basis of their wallpaper and other theme preferences.
Developers are required to supply a monochromatic app icon along with their apps to let the system change the icon colours and design on the basis of the system theme. This works similar to how Google apps currently tweak their icons on the basis of the theme you select on an Android 12 device.
Google said that themed app icons are initially supported on Pixel devices, though it is working with device manufacturers to expand the experience.
The other major user-focussed change that Android 13 brings is per-app language preferences. This will natively allow users to choose a language that is different from the system language. A new platform API has been developed that apps can call to set or get the user's preferred language. A similar API will also be added in the upcoming Jetpack library to expand the new experience.
Android 13 also carries Quick Settings Placement API to let app developers prompt users to directly add custom time to the set of active Quick Settings tiles. A new system dialogue will appear on the screen from where you can add the tile, without leaving the app. This will also reduce the steps that you would normally take when going to the Quick Settings to add that particular tile.
Google has announced that it has optimised hyphenation performance in Android 13 by as much as 200 percent to deliver better rendering of text. Hyphenation helps make wrapped text easier to read and enables the interface to become more adaptive to users.
Graphic rendering on Android 13 is also aimed to be enhanced over earlier versions as it carries support for programmable RuntimeShader objects, with behaviour defined using the Android Graphics Shading Language (AGSL). Using the new addition, developers will be able to implement ripple effects, blur, and stretch overscroll on their apps.
Android 13 also brings Core Libraries aligning with the OpenJDK 11 LTS release to improve system-level experiences. The Core Library changes will also be available to devices running Android 12 and higher through Google Play system updates over time.
Google is additionally expanding Project Mainline that is aimed to help bring speedier software updates directly via Google Play. It will allow the company to push new features like photo picker and OpenJDK 11 directly to users on older versions of Android through updates to existing modules — instead of updating the entire operating system.
Android 13 also takes Android 12L advancements into consideration and continues to optimise the app experiences for large screen devices, including tablets, foldables, and Chromebooks.
Developers also get easier testing and debugging support through Android 13 where they can have toggles to force-enable or disable certain changes within the Developer options.
Some of these initial Android 13 features are available to developers through the first preview, while others are expected to come in the next few months.
In addition to the new experience, Google has this time revealed the name of its next Android version. It is something unusual, especially when we look at the historical records since the release of Android 10 in 2019 when Google did away with any public-facing names.
As reported by 9to5Google, Android 13 is called Tiramisu, and the title is visible under the Android version settings. It was suggested to be the name for the next Android version in the past but wasn't officially confirmed.
Last year, Google's Vice President of Engineering for Android, Dave Burke, revealed that Android 12 was codenamed "Snow Cone". The name was not available in the settings menu, though.