Android 13, Google’s latest version of its mobile operating system, is available now; well ahead of of the launch of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.
Android 12+ — While not quite the dramatic visual overhaul that Android 12 was, Android 13 is still doing its part to advance Google’s Material You design language, in this case by making custom themed, wallpaper-matched icons an option for non-Google applications too, just like they are for Google ones.
That spirit of customization is also extending to the media player, which has been Material You-ified, with a “dancing” playback bar (it’s a lil’ squiggle) and larger album or podcast art for whatever you’re listening to, even if its on the web. Android 13 will also remember custom language setting for individual apps, a more functional kind of personalization.
Apple-like — The rest of Google’s changes, while not all available at launch, make the experience of living in the company’s ecosystem more seamless and a lot more like Apple’s software suite.
Spatial audio with head tracking is coming to supported headsets, including Google’s Pixel Buds Pro, and Android 13 is officially adopting Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Audio for improved latency. Google’s privacy game is getting further upgraded, with the most meaningful change in my book probably being a new permission for whether or not apps can send you notifications.
Coming at some point in the future, you’ll be able to copy and paste between Android phones and tablets and vice versa, just like universal clipboard used by iOS, macOS, and iPadOS. Google also plans to stream messages you receive on your Android phone to your Chromebook, just like — you guessed it — the Messages app on macOS.
Finally, for long-suffering Android tablet owners, Google is offering some relief before it attempts its own tablet-boondoggle: a new taskbar for easily putting apps into side-by-side multitasking, and better palm rejection when you’re using a stylus.
Google says Android 13 should be arriving on Pixel phones first before making its way to other Android devices later this year.