The first developer preview of Android 13 is here

Deepak Gupta February 10, 2022
Updated 2022/02/10 at 9:43 PM

Superstition schmuperstition. Google is revealing the first developer preview of Android 13 today and it is clear that the company will not avoid the “bad luck” number. After all, Apple made a lot of money with the iPhone 13s. The Android 13 preview is a glimpse of what we can expect from the next generation of Google’s mobile operating system, and developers can test their apps using the Android emulator or by displaying a system image for the latest Pixel 4 or Pixel phones. Based on today’s announcement, it looks like we can expect the next version of Android to at least offer more refined privacy controls and more of Android 12’s Material You system-wide.

One of the things this preview brings is a new system photo picker, which can allow you to share specific local or cloud-based photos more securely. It builds on the existing document picker function, allowing you to share specific files with an app without having to grant permission to all media files on your device. The updated photo picker “extends this feature with a dedicated experience for picking photos and videos,” wrote Google vice president of engineering Dave Burke in an announcement post. Developers will need to use the Photo Picker APIs to enable this feature.

An animation showing the new photo picker in Android 13.


Android 13 also adds a “nearby WiFi devices” permission, which will be required for apps looking for available WiFi devices around you. This will allow them to “discover and connect to nearby devices over Wi-Fi without needing location permission”. It should allow apps that need to find WiFi devices in the area that don’t need to know where you are to connect without requesting access to your GPS, which is better for your privacy.

Google is also expanding the Material You adaptive color palette beyond its own apps to all app icons. You can choose to have the system apply the colors generated from your wallpaper to your icons. Developers will need to upload monochrome versions of their app icons and tweak some code. This feature will roll out first on Pixels and Burke said that “we are working with our device manufacturer partners to bring them to more devices.”

The Developer Preview also offers a new block placement API that allows developers to prompt users to add their custom blocks to the Quick Settings panel in the notification tab. With this, users don’t have to hunt these app-specific shortcuts by editing the Quick Settings shadow, and they won’t have to exit the app

A chart showing the Android 13 release schedule.


Other features in this developer preview include a way for apps to more easily set a language other than the system default, improved animations and effects, and more feature updates via Google Play. The latter will allow Google to “push new features like the photo picker… directly to users on older versions of Android”. Burke also praised Android 12L and devices of various screen sizes and form factors, saying, “We will also develop some of the newest updates we made in 12L to help you take advantage of the more than 250 million large-screen Android devices currently running.”

Google also shared a release schedule that shows the first beta release is expected around April, with platform stability expected in June through July. This is in line with how previous versions of Android were released, and we will likely continue to hear about Android 13 in the coming months.

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