What’s New in Android 13? Not Much

Posted on July 24, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 16 Comments

With Google issuing the final beta of Android 13 recently, I decided to finally update my Pixel 6 Pro and see what’s new. It’s not much.

I would have done this sooner, but we were on a connectivity-challenged Alaska cruise for the past week, and our trip began the same day that Google issued the beta. (The connectivity was so bad I couldn’t even backup my photos during the cruise, or watch a single online video.)

Somewhat related, I’ve been using an iPhone 13 Pro this year for reasons outlined elsewhere. And between that and my understanding of the meager changes coming in this release, installing the beta seemed less of a priority. But once we got back to Seattle and what I’ll call a more normal connectivity experience, I decided to go for it.

And I’m not sure I’d have even noticed if someone had secretly updated the phone when I wasn’t looking. There just isn’t much to report. Whether that’s good or bad is partially a matter of perspective, I guess. But Apple is delivering a major upgrade this year in iOS 16—which I wrote about here and here—and Google is not with Android 13.

I sort of knew this would be the case because I’ve written about each pre-release milestone in turn. Google issued the first Android 13 developer preview (DP1) in February, and it followed that up with DP2 in March, Beta 1 in April, Beta 2 in May at Google I/O, Beta 3 with “platform stability” in May, several Beta 3 updates, and then  Beta 4 in July. And you don’t need to waste time combing through the new features in each release, because I’ve done it for you. Again, there’s not much.

The biggest visual change, sort of, is the expansion of Google’s Material You-themed monochrome icons to third-party apps. I didn’t use this option with Android 12 because only Google’s apps supported it, leading to a weird mishmash of monochrome and full-color icons. But this expansion means little today, since so few third-party apps support it.

The result is similar to what we saw before, but that could/should change over time as app makers move to support this (admittedly polarizing but at least optional) icon style. (Why Android can’t automatically auto-monochrome non-conformant app icons is unclear given Google’s AI prowess.)

Other changes are even less dramatic. Android 13 will support Bluetooth LE Audio, which is nice, and it will have new notification permissions, a new photo picker, per-app language support, and more granular file access permissions.

“Instead of permitting access to ‘Files and media,’ there are two new categories you can control access to, ‘Photos & videos’ and ‘Music & audio,’” Google’s Trystan Upstill explained of that last feature at I/O. “For even more specificity, a new photo picker lets you select the exact photos or videos you want to grant access to, without needing to share your entire media library with an app.”

And that is about all I know about and/or have noticed. But I’ll need to actually use it out in the world, and I’ll try to do so this coming week.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “What’s New in Android 13? Not Much”

  1. maktaba

    Why are phone screenshots in your articles always low res?

    • Paul Thurrott

      I'm not sure what means. I just resize them so they don't take up the whole screen.
      • maktaba

        I mean the screenshots look blurry, especially the text under the icons, it doesn’t look sharp. The screenshot you used for this article is only 191 KB.

      • MikeCerm

        He's right. If you're looking at it on a Hi-DPI screen (like 4K, with 200% scaling), it looks super blurry. The screenshot was resized to 324 x 700, which is then resized in the browser. A better way to do it would be to upload the full-res, and then set the scaling in WordPress to display it in the correct size, like 30% of the width of the column or so. Then it would look sharp on Hi-DPI displays. But, it's not that big of a deal because it's not like can't get a sense of what the UI looks like with the low-res screenshot.

        • Luna Murasaki

          Yeah this is what I have too - huge 4K TV being used on my desk as a monitor with 200% scaling. The blur is quite prominent in this setting. Not a huge deal but maybe something to fix for stuff in the future.

      • randallcorn

        So people are taking the screenshot of the 6inch phone screen and blowing it up on their huge 4k TV and blowing it up 200% and the picture is fuzzy? Can you guys actually see your itty bitty phones? lol

  2. bluesman57

    The fingerprint reader on my Pixel 6 Pro works better after installing the 13 beta 4.

  3. skinnyjm

    Is that iOS16 wallpaper? ;-)

  4. markbyrn

    Yes, very underwhelming; feels more like 12.1 than 13.0

  5. achaji3

    Android 13 will support Bluetooth LE Audio, which is nice, and it will have new notification permissions, a new photo picker, per-app language support, and more granular file access permissions.

  6. Brazbit

    What an interesting choice displaying the temperature as a fried egg...

  7. ebraiter

    Well, at least we're not paying for the OS upgrade...

  8. OntarioPundit

    Android is still quite rough around the edges in some places. The notifications in Android 12 on my Pixel 4 are a mess. I was on Android 10 for a while before I switched to a newer phone and was surprised to see how badly Google had botched notifications in 12. I was really hoping that 13 would have fixed the notifications mess.


    Oh well. Time to seriously look at Mac again (jk all I have to do is use an iPhone for a few minutes without my favourite launcher Lawnchair to remind myself of why I prefer Android)