Android 13 is the next version of Google’s mobile operating system (internally codenamed Tiramisu for all dessert fans) and as usual brings a host of new features and upgrades to Android phones and tablets. We’ve been playing around with it for a few weeks and it’s more evolution than revolution from Android 12. Don’t expect game-changing changes.
It’s currently in beta, but Google will likely release the official version in late August or September. We’ve rounded up many of the key new features here and will continue to update this story over the next few months as new perks arrive. If you can’t wait to try it for yourself, we also have download instructions.
How to download Android 13
You need a Google Pixel phone (Pixel 4 and Pixel 4A and newer) or another eligible Android phone. Google has a list of manufacturers here that have a device that can run the beta. If your device is supported, you can sign up for the beta program using this link.
After signing up, you can download and install the latest beta version as an OTA (over-the-air) update, but be careful – beta versions can be unstable and buggy. Before registering, we strongly recommend you to back up your Android phone, otherwise you risk losing valuable data.
As the beta progresses, new updates should appear automatically, but you can always check if you have the latest version by going to settings > system > system update and knock Check for updates. Do you want to leave the beta and return to Android 12? Go to Google’s Android Beta page, scroll down to find your device and click Reject. This involves erasing all locally stored data, so make sure you back up your device. You will receive an update prompt so that you can revert to the older version.
The best new Android 13 features
We’ve jotted down our 13 most popular features and improvements in the latest version, but there are plenty more small upgrades to come. You can dig deeper on Google’s developer site. Since Android 13 isn’t final yet, there’s a chance some of these features might change before release.
Even more customization
Android 13 further builds on Google’s Material You concept to allow for deeper personalization and supports more colors in the theme options. Currently you can choose from four background colors and four base colors, but in Android 13 there are 16 colors of each. Just tap and hold on an empty part of the home screen or go to settings and choose wallpaper & style to find the new color theme options. When you turn on Themed icons, you should be seeing more of them now too. (Google encourages more developers to create them, so it’s not just Google and system app icons.)
Improved data protection
There are several improvements in Android 13 that restrict access to your apps. First, when an app asks permission to access media files, they are categorized into images, videos, or audio files. With the new photo picker, you no longer need to grant access to all your photos. You can control which photos and videos an app can access, rather than allowing it to dive into your entire photo library (a feature that’s been on iPhones since iOS 14).
Previously, enabling an app to scan for nearby Wi-Fi devices meant it was given permission to track its location. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case as there’s now a separate permissions option for nearby WiFi devices. The Privacy Dashboard (accessed via settings > privacy > Privacy Dashboard), which shows all apps that have accessed camera, microphone, location and other permissions in the last 24 hours, can now show history for the last seven days.
Improved copy and paste
When you copy something in Android 13, a small floating panel will appear at the bottom of the screen and you can tap to edit the content. You will sometimes see relevant options. For example, if you copy a URL, you’ll get an option to open it in your browser. You can also copy and paste on one nearby Android device, eliminating the need to email each other from phone to tablet. Google can also set the clipboard to automatically clear after a while (maybe an hour) to protect your privacy.
By default, when you install an app with Android, it has permission to send you notifications. Android 13 turns that on its head. From now on, apps must ask for permission before they can send you notifications.
Better tablet support
With Google finally taking tablets seriously, there are a few changes coming in Android 13 that should make living with bigger screens that little bit easier. On an Android tablet, you can expect a taskbar at the bottom with frequently used apps (you can hide them), a two-column arrangement for quick settings and notifications, and easier drag-and-drop multitasking with the option to pin app pairs in the “App Pairs” menu. Recent apps”. We’re also expecting support for Wear OS smartwatches to auto-unlock tablets, and support for audio switching, meaning your wireless earbuds will switch from phone to tablet when you start playing a movie on your Slate.