Android 13 Is Coming. Here’s Everything We Know

Android at Google I/O 2021
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Android at Google I/O 2021
James Martin/CNET

Android 13 is officially in the works. We’ve been waiting to see how Google will build on Android 12’s design overhaul, privacy upgrades and user-interface enhancements. And now Google has released the upcoming OS’s first preview for developers, giving us a glimpse at what Android 13 could look like.

If you’re curious about Android 13’s release date, or wondering what new features could hit your phone in the coming months (here are some of the best hidden features from Android 12), we recommend bookmarking this page. We’ll be periodically updating it with all the Android 13 buzz we can find.

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Release date

Although Google has not publicly revealed a specific release date for Android 13, the Android Developers blog provides a rough timeline for the rollout. Google will release a second developer preview in March, and then a beta will come out every month through July. The beta in July is listed as the “near-final build for final testing.”

Judging from precedent, Android 13 could debut a month after the final beta. Android 12’s fifth and final beta came out in September 2021, and Google officially released the app in October. With Android 11 (2020) and Android 10 (2019), the final betas dropped in August, and the OS hit phones in September. So we can reasonably assume that Android 13 will arrive in August this year. If not, September is a safe bet.

Keep in mind that Google sends Android updates to its Pixel phones first (and will probably ship the rumored Pixel 7 with Android 13). If you have a different Android phone, like a Samsung, Motorola or OnePlus, you’ll likely have to wait a few months after the initial release to experience Android 13.

Even more privacy features

Android 12 introduced a kill switch that allows you to prevent apps from accessing your camera and mic, and it also gave you the option to show apps your approximate location instead of your exact whereabouts.

It appears that Android 13 will bolster these privacy settings. According to Google’s Android Developers blog, Android 13 will include a photo picker. This means when an app wants access to your images and videos — like social media and photo editing apps often do — you can select specific media files to share instead of granting access to all of them. (Android already has a document picker that allows for the same thing.)

Upgraded design with more color options

The Material You redesign was the star of the show for Android 12, featuring UI color schemes that automatically adjust based on the wallpaper you select. The Android Developers blog says Android 13 will add even more color customization to Material You.

In Android 12, only Google apps work with the adjustable color palette feature. But Android 13 will expand the feature to all apps, as long as the apps’ developers agree to design alternate icons that are monochromatic.

A rumor from AndroidPolice citing a “trusted source” says Android 13 will let you choose more options for color customization. Among these are “spritz,” a desaturated version of the color scheme, and “expressive,” which incorporates hues differing from those that come by default with your wallpaper selection.

Will my phone be compatible with Android 13?

If you own a Pixel 4 or Pixel 4A, Android 13 might be the last supported software update your phone can receive. This prediction is based solely on precedent: Android 12 is probably the last update for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3A, and Android 11 was the last for the Pixel 2.

If your Pixel 3 or 3A ends up being incompatible with Android 13, you can still keep using it with an older OS. But this means you won’t have access to the latest security patches, and that could put your data at risk.

How to download Android 13

For now, don’t. As exciting as the developer preview may be, early betas can make some apps stop working on your device for good. They usually have bugs and can put a damper on your battery life. (CNET’s Jason Cipriani experienced this while testing the iOS 15 betas.) If you have a spare Android lying around, go for it — but we strongly caution against subjecting your main phone to bugs.

If you’re really feeling risky, though, you can sign up for the Android Beta Program. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Even as we look forward to everything Android 13 will bring, it’s worth exploring all the highlights from Android 12. Last year’s OS had fun hidden features, including Game Mode and One-Handed Mode. Also, be sure to check out the Android 12 Easter egg.

If you’re curious about the best phones you can buy in 2022, we’ve put together a list that includes the Google Pixel 6 Pro and last year’s Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

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