Android 13 Beta 1: all the official news, hidden and undocumented

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Last night Google released the first Beta of Android 13, which in the development timeline is the third public build after two Developer Previews. As with previous builds, we have decided to collect all the news, both official and hidden or undocumented, in a single article that we will update as more details emerge. Let’s start with some pretty big news:

EVERYONE CAN TRY ANDROID 13 BETA

Well, more or less. You have to have a reasonably recent smartphone and you need to have some experience in fiddling. Specifically, Google has released the GSI (Generic System Image) of Android 13 Beta 1. The GSIs are part of the so-called Project Treble: for some years now, all smartphones with the Play Store must be able to start a GSI, which is basically a “basic” version of Android without software customizations, without major driver or hardware compatibility issues.

Basically every native smartphone Android 9 and later that has the Play Store necessarily supports Project Treble, so anyone who owns one with these characteristics and is interested has to do is download the build from the official Android Developers site, making sure to choose the build right for your processor, and install it manually. The precise procedure varies from device to device, and typically requires unlocking the bootloader and installing a custom recovery. Google indicates that there are at least three known issues to consider:

  • Phone audio: You may not hear any incoming sound during a call if you are using the pre-installed phone app.
  • Boot loop: Restarting the GSI may not work on some smartphones. You have to go into recovery and wipe user data, perform a factory reset and then reboot.
  • Partitions too small: on some smartphones, the GSIs of Android 13 which also include Google services (GMS) may be too large for the pre-existing partitions. One solution may be to delete some non-essential dynamic partitions.
  • Return of “Do not disturb”. With Developer Preview 2 the functionality was renamed to “Priority Mode”; Google has decided to retrace its steps.
  • Animation of the play bar in the audio player. Apparently it doesn’t sync with the music currently playing and it’s not dynamic.

The media player now has a squiggly progress bar. pic.twitter.com/jHeFT7m1oj

– Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) April 26, 2022

  • Material You more colorful. One of the main novelties of Android 12 is the ability to apply color combinations to many parts of the operating system interface. There are four “prepackaged” combinations and the dynamic theme option, which generates a palette based on the colors of the background image. With Beta 1, we go from four standard options to 16, and at the same time the dynamic theme algorithm, called Monet, can now use 16 different sets of parameters to generate the palettes (also calculating the dark theme / light theme variants).
  • More convenient smart home controls. They can be activated from the Lock Screen without having to unlock the device. However, at present it is an option that is disabled by default and that the user must look for in the settings menu (section dedicated to the Lock Screen, in fact); furthermore, developers must explicitly implement it in their smart home management apps.
  • More versatile clipboard. In Developer Preview 2 the first traces of a new “editor” of the copied elements had emerged. Basically it works in the same way as when you take a screenshot: a floating notification appears at the bottom left that allows you to modify the copied element, or open it (in the case of a link) and other useful actions based on the context or type.
  • Safer clipboard. All copied items are deleted after one hour of persistence on the clipboard. It’s a feature that Gboard used to offer, but is now “universal” for the entire OS.
  • IS disappeared the ability to set the language individually for each app. It had emerged with Developer Preview 2. At the moment it is not known why this step backwards.
  • Face unlock on Pixel 6 Pro. Here too, several clues had emerged over the past few weeks, and with the arrival of the new Beta, reports of the appearance of the configuration screen have multiplied. To clarify, it’s not working at the moment, but at least it’s there. In fact, some users also report its arrival on older Pixels, in particular the 5. At this point it is not clear how Google will proceed.
  • Spatial Audio on Pixel 6. That doesn’t work either, but among the various files on the system there is a library of just this name.
  • Possible unification of research. With Android 12 the so-called “on-device search” debuted – essentially from the app drawer it is possible to search for apps, smartphone contents, contacts, images and, via a link, carry out the same search on Google. With Android 13 Beta 1, we have returned to the old search interface which is limited to apps only. However, traces in the code indicate that Google is working on a more advanced feature, where there will essentially no longer be a difference between the search widget on the home screen and the one in the drawer – or anywhere else. In other words: every search will organically include results from the web and your device. This is the theory, at least.
  • Ability to change the screen resolution (image 1 below). For now it doesn’t actually appear, but the uncovered graphics suggests that there are at least two options: “High resolution”, that is FHD + 1080p, and “Highest resolution”, which should match the native resolution of the panel (of course when this is higher than FHD +) .
  • Suggested apps in the taskbar in devices with large screens (image 2). More precisely: in the drawer that is called up from the taskbar in the case of devices with large displays, such as tablets. The suggested contextual apps are a feature that we now take for granted on smartphones, and its lack, even in Android 12L, in the drawer for tablets was rather singular.
  • New icon for USB debugging (image 3), with the “T” that distinguishes Android 13.
  • Ability to keep the vibration in silent mode (image 4).
  • Possibility of disable the Screen Saver in its options.
  • More versatile screen savers. Complications can now show, via icons:
    • If there is an active alarm
    • If do not disturb mode is active
    • If the camera is active
    • If the microphone is active
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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise