Despite Android 12L having yet to exit its beta stage, Google has already moved on and introduced the first developer preview of Android 13. The new beta gives us a preview of what Google will be working to bring Android users later this year, and the first developer build hints at a few new features.
One of the most prominent is a new system-wide photo picker which will give apps access to only the photos and videos of your choosing. This means you won’t be bothered by security prompts from apps every time you want to access your photos. Interestingly, Google says this feature will be coming to all users running Android 11 or above in the future, but it’s unclear if that timing will align with the general public release of Android 13.
What’ll remain exclusive to the newer version of the OS are colorful icons. Google says Android 13 will update Material You to allow any app’s icon to adopt the color scheme you choose, so long as the developer provides a monochromatic version of the icon in the app package. Right now, only Google’s app icons are able to take on the theme you set in Android 12.
Google is also including plenty of under-the-hood changes that will better your overall experience with Android. There’s a new runtime permission for Wi-Fi devices to discover and connect to them without having to turn on location services, new system dialogs for quickly adding third-party Quick Settings tiles, faster hyphenation for rending text, per-app language preferences, and better optimization for tablets and foldables. Google is also committing to more system updates through Google Play thanks to Project Mainline.
With Android 13, Google is anticipating to ship it earlier than it has past Android releases. According to its timeline, developer previews will be around until some time in April when the public beta will be released. It’ll reach stability by July, with an official public release some time afterward. Typically, Google waits until the fall to release major Android upgrades, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this time around.
If you want to try Android 13 for yourself, here’s a pro tip: don’t. It’s way too early to get an idea of what Android 13 will be like when it ships, and it’ll likely lead to random bugs in your everyday usage that no one wants. That being said, if you like living on the edge, you can follow Google’s instructions here. It’s currently only available for Pixel users.