Google just dropped Android 13 – here are 7 features worth checking out

Better performance, a new media player, more control over app permissions, and tons of bug fixes are all part of Google's latest version of Android.

Android 13 is out. Google announced today that the latest major upgrade for its mobile operating system is rolling out to all supported Pixel phones, which range back to the Pixel 4 from 2019. If you own a Pixel 3 or earlier, you’re out of luck as Google has dropped those devices from its upgrade cycles (although some of them are still receiving security patches).

With any major Android upgrade, there’s also a slew of new features to sift through, and version 13 is no exception. Instead of rattling them all off, I figured I’d highlight the features I’m most excited about, including some that I’ve been using in the beta on my Pixel 6 Pro. If you’re wondering whether you should upgrade, I think at least some of these features will help to convince you, but I always advocate for updating your phone’s software anyway since it’s good from a security and stability standpoint.

Anywho, here are seven features in Android 13 worth checking out.

Material You customization options in Android 13.

Improved performance

Google didn’t publicize the performance improvements in Android 13 a lot when it was in beta form, but that’s not because they weren’t any good. On the contrary, running the Android 13 beta on my Pixel 6 Pro, I’ve noticed that everything feels faster and more responsive. I’m not sure what kind of optimizations Google is making here, but whatever it is, it’s working. I imagine these same improvements will carry over to every Pixel phone that gets the update.

Better Material You and a tweaked UI

Material You, the new interface for Android that debuted in Android 12 last year, is getting improved with Android 13. You can now customize the icons for third-party apps so they match your phone’s wallpaper and theme colors, which should make your personalizations feel much more cohesive.

There are also some nice UI tweaks such as the repositioning of the Settings app button in Quick Settings, a few new animations, an improved search experience on the home screen, and a new power menu.

The new media player in Android 13.

New Lock Screen media player

I separated this feature from the “tweaked UI” section above because there are a lot of people excited about it, including myself. Android 13 boasts a redesigned media player that looks a lot more playful and friendly than previous iterations, complete with a squiggly line representing a playback timeline. It lives on both the Lock Screen and notification panel, and it’s really good. It feels much easier to control and interact with than the older, more compact version.

Improved app permissions

With Android 13, Google is improving app permission prompts in two key areas: media and location. Now, you can simply share “Photos & videos” or “Music & audio” with apps instead of your entire media library, or single photos and videos while blocking everything else. Meanwhile, you can now hide your location from apps that want to access local devices thanks to a new Nearby device permission that works over Wi-Fi.

Chrome OS + Android 13 = easier messaging

If you own a Chrome OS device, your phone will get deeper integration with it thanks to Android 13. Google says you’ll soon be able to stream your messaging app chats to Chrome OS so you don’t have to interrupt your workflow when you get a message. This will work across all of your messaging apps, apparently, including apps like Signal.

Android tablets get a little love, too

Google is showing Android tablets a little love with Android 13, with the ability to copy text, images, and more on your phone and paste them on your tablet, and vice versa. Multitasking is also being improved with a new taskbar and drag-and-drop capabilities when using split-screen.

In addition, Android 13 gets better at recognizing stylus and finger tip inputs while also improving palm rejection to avoid accidental touches.

Less bugs, more security

In Android 13, Google is fixing a whopping 150 bugs while also improving the security of the system. You likely won’t notice most of them, but some improve areas like the fingerprint readers on the Pixel 6 series, the always-on display, Gboard, Bluetooth, the camera app, and Wi-Fi, so if you’ve had any issues in those areas you might wanna jump on the Android 13 bandwagon ASAP. (If you want to read about all of the bug fixes, Droid-Life published them here.)

There are lots of other features to talk about like support for Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), HDR video support in third-party apps, spatial audio support with head tracking, custom languages for individual apps, and (slightly) better notifications. Overall, while Android 13 isn’t as splashy of a release as Android 12 was, it’s by no means boring.

Android 13 hit my Pixel 6 Pro while I was writing this article.

How to install Android 13

Google is rolling out Android 13 now to all supported Pixel phones, so if you own a Pixel 4 or newer, you’ll want to check Settings > System > System update. Other devices from companies like Samsung, OnePlus, Sony, Motorola, Asus, Oppo, Xiaomi, and more will get the software update later this year and into 2023.

If you want to take matters into your own hands, you can install a factory image or flash an OTA directly to your Pixel phone using the respective links below. Please note that I nor Matridox are responsible for any damage done to your device by doing so.