Android 13 is built for user privacy with photo picker and notification permission. Improve productivity with themed app icons, per-app languages, and clipboard previews. Build for modern standards like Bluetooth LE Audio and MIDI 2.0 over USB. Deliver a better experience on tablets and large screens.
Android 13 is all about stability, privacy, and security. There aren’t huge sweeping visual changes as there were with Android 12, but permissions receive a welcome suite of changes. Google decided to take a year off from innovation, focusing on stability and privacy for this year’s mobile software update. So while Android 13 might lack a suite of new features on the level of Material You, it’s nonetheless a solid update for the best Android phones.
Table of Contents
Android 13 Review
Design and UI
- Material You: Google introduced Material You in Android 12, which marked a huge new design language akin to Material Design in 2014. A lot has changed since then, but Android 13 continues to improve Material You. Android 13 offers more color options extracted from your wallpaper. Material You on Android 12 felt a bit uninspired at some points, where I often would choose one of the preset colors to get a look I actually liked.
- System UI: While not monumental, Android 13’s system UI received a few upgrades. One you might notice immediately is the new media player in the notification shade. It’s gotten a minor facelift, including new button placement and a fresh seek bar. The media player is also always expanded, unlike the compact mode in Android 12. The album art also now takes the full center stage in the background, but only in apps that support it.
- Pixel Launcher: The app drawer search is a lot more like iOS, where you can search for apps, perform web searches, look for stuff on your device, and search the Play Store. I would have preferred Android 13 to unify the two search functionalities into one single spot. It works well on iOS and I think it could work equally well on Android.
Privacy and security
- Notifications permissions: Apps now ask for permission to send you notifications when you load them up for the first time. This is an extremely welcome change and I love to see it. While managing notifications are a lot easier and more robust on Android than on iOS, I prefer Apple’s way of making apps get your consent to send notifications. And just like on an iPhone, it’s quite satisfying in Android 13 to deny an app the ability to send you notifications at runtime.
- Photo picker and media permissions: Continuing in the line of permissions, Android 13 now requires apps to ask for access to photos, video, or audio separately instead of all together like before. Google also introduced a new photo picker, again much as the one iOS has.
- Task Manager: Android 13 has a proper task manager, which appears at the bottom of the Quick Settings when you have foreground apps running. Google has long resisted adding a task manager for Android, but 2022 is the year it finally listened — and put a stop to those risky task killer apps.
- Per-app language preferences: Android 13 now has a great boon for multilingual users: per-app language preferences. You can now set some apps in your native language and others in your secondary one. This would also be beneficial for people trying to use and adjust to a new language or who do a lot of traveling. You can access a list of supported apps by going to Settings > System > Languages & input > App Languages.
- Native QR code reader: Google introduced a native QR code reader. It sits on a Quick Setting tile, so tap it to open the scanner. It’s incredibly fast and works really well. I find it a lot easier to open the link it finds than other phones that make you reach for a tiny link under the code in the viewfinder.
- Clipboard editor: Android 13’s clipboard editor gives you a visual means of editing something you’ve just copied before you paste it, such as if you selected too much text.
- Connectivity: Android 13 has support for Wi-Fi 7, the upcoming wireless standard, as well as Bluetooth LE Audio. This is a future-proofing measure.