Google has released the first beta of Android 13 as an over-the-air update, which means that if you’re an early adopter who isn’t frightened of a few broken features here and there, you can now install it. You’ll need a recent Pixel phone to do so right now, with the Pixel 4 being the earliest device that it will work on. There isn’t much new in the beta, which is to be expected given that Google previously released the most of the new developer-centric features during the preview phase.
The features included things like designed app icons, per-app language support, Bluetooth LE audio, and MIDI 2.0 connectivity over USB for artists. The most significant change in Android 13 is that push notifications are now optional. Google is expanding this lineup with more specific permissions for media file access in this initial version. Apps may now request access to certain file types, allowing developers to seek access to specific media kinds such as photos, videos, and audio files. There’s also improved error reporting, particularly in the context of key generation, as well as a new audio API that enables “media apps anticipate how their audio will be routed.”
As Google VP of Engineering Dave Burke points out in today’s announcement, developers should test their apps for Android 13 compatibility now. Google now plans to release one more beta before reaching platform stability in June. All app-related system functions and APIs should be stable by then. At Google I/O, which is only a few weeks away, we’re likely to learn a lot more about Android 13.
Android development is now done on a monthly basis, so it’s no surprise that around a month after the first developer preview of Android 13 (code-named “Tiramisu” in Google’s developer documentation) was released, the second developer preview was released. These previews often have a lot of rough edges and are intended for developers, hence there is no over-the-air installation option, much as the first preview (though if you installed the first preview, you will get the second as an over-the-air update). Google has released system images for the Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6, Pixel 5a 5G, Pixel 5, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4 XL, and Pixel 4, as well as the Android Emulator.
While the initial preview provided us a taste of the Android 13 user experience, today’s release focused mostly on developer features. Users will notice that applications will now have to seek for permission to give you alerts, which is the only exception (though while Google highlights this today, this has been a known feature of Android 13 for a while). Apps must now ask you whether they may send alerts, just as with other permissions, and this is an opt-in procedure. You’ll adore this if you’ve ever loaded an app that immediately bombards you with alerts. Developers, on the other hand, will need to make sure that consumers have a lot of power and context to opt in.