Android 12 was only released in October 2021 and Google has already released the first developer preview of Android 13 with better privacy and security, efforts to improve developer productivity, and more work on better support for larger screens like tablets or Chromebooks building on the work done on Android 12L.
Android 13 privacy and security features
Google announces two new features related to privacy and security:
- Photo picker and APIs – Android 13 adds a system photo picker to share both local and cloud-based photos securely. Apps can use the photo picker APIs to access shared photos and videos without needing permission to view all media files on the device. So if an app just needs to access photos or videos, there’s no need to request full storage access. The photo picker will also be brought to through Google Play system updates on devices running Android 11 and higher, Android Go not included.
- Nearby device permission for Wi-Fi – Android 13 introduces the NEARBY_WIFI_DEVICES runtime permission for apps that manage a device’s connections to nearby access points over Wi-Fi with the “neverForLocation” flags. So the app does not get location data if it only needs to connect to WiFi.
Developer productivity improvements
Google also implemented new APIs in Android 13 and provides resources to make developers’ life easier and more productive.
- Quick Settings Placement API – The app can now prompt the user to directly add custom tiles to the set of active Quick Settings tiles.
- Themed app icons – Android 13 can support “Material You dynamic color” for all app icons, not only in Google apps in order to let users opt into icons that inherit the tint of their wallpaper and other theme preferences. Developers will just need to supply a monochromatic app icon and tweak the adaptive icon XML.
- Per-app language preferences – Apps that let users choose a language that differs from the system language, to meet the needs of multilingual users, can now do so through a new platform API. A similar API is also planned in an upcoming Jetpack library.
- Faster hyphenation – Hyphenation does not seem like a complex thing to do, but Android 13 has been optimized to boost hyphenation performance by as much as 200%. Developers can try the faster hyphenation, by using the fullFast or normalFast frequencies in setHyphenationFrequency().
- Programmable shaders – Android 13 adds support for programmable RuntimeShader objects to enable developers to implement ripple effects, blur, and stretch overscroll in their app(s).
- OpenJDK 11 updates – The Core Libraries have been refreshed in Android 13 in order to align with the OpenJDK 11 LTS release.
Google has continued its work to provide a more consistent experience across devices and form factors:
- Android system updates with Google Play – More system updates can now be pushed through Google Play. For instance, the photo picker and OpenJDK 11 updated to Android 13 can also be pushed directly to users on older versions of Android through updates to existing modules. Google is also working on Bluetooth and Ultra-wideband modules updates through Google Play.
- Optimization for tablets, foldables, and Chromebooks – Google offers recommendations to developers so their apps work better on tablets, larger screens, and foldable.
- Easier testing and debugging of changes – Opt-in changes are toggleable to force-enable or disable the changes individually from Developer options or adb.
- Platform stability milestone – The APIs in the developer preview is not frozen yet. Google expects to announce the final SDK/NDK APIs, internal APIs and app-facing system behaviors in June 2022, after one more developer preview and two Beta releases.
Try Android 13 in emulator or Pixel phones
The easiest way to try Android 13 is in the emulator part of Android Studio, and that’s the only way so far for tablets and foldables. But if you own Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6, Pixel 5a 5G, Pixel 5, Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 4a, Pixel 4 XL, or Pixel 4 you could also flash the developer preview system image for your device.
More information about the Android 13 developer preview can be found on the developer website.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.