First Android 13 Developer Preview Goes Live With New Customisation Features and More

Android releases sounded better when they were named after a desert. Nevertheless, Android 13 is finally here in the form of the first developer preview. The developer preview is one of the first phases of testing, followed by months of beta releases before final launch.

The Android 13 developer preview 1 can only be flashed on the following phones for now. Developers can also use the preview build in Android Studio.

  • Pixel 4 and 4 XL
  • Pixel 4a and 4a (5G)
  • Pixel 5 and 5a
  • Pixel 6 and 6 Pro

What’s new in Android 13?

System Photo Picker

Android 13 Photo Picker

Google has increasingly talked about privacy and security being a core design principle in consecutive Android releases. And, to be fair, the company has worked towards that goal, making Android a more secure platform over the years. With the recent Android 13 developer preview, Google has introduced a system photo picker.

Traditionally in Android, when a document is shared with an application, it is done so specifically, without the app needing the permission to access all media files on the device. With System photo picker, this functionality is extended to pictures and videos, where the devs can use the new photo picker API to only access user shared photos specifically. This is a great functionality which will cut down on redundant permissions from applications and give the user more control.

We plan to bring the photo picker experience to more Android users through Google Play system updates, as part of a MediaProvider module update for devices (excepting Go devices) running Android 11 and higher.

– Dave Burke, VP of Engineering on Android Developers Blog

New Runtime permission

Remember how apps that manage access points or need wifi access, also need location permission? Well that might change going forward as Google has introduced a new runtime permission — NEARBY_WIFI_DEVICES, for such applications. Now applications on Android 13 will be able to call the NEARBY_WIFI_DEVICES permission with the “neverForLocation” flag if the devs don’t want to collect location data.

Quick Settings Placement API

New Quick Settings — Tiles

Quick settings can be found on the notifications shade, which you will often see in the form of tiles, like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi toggles. Applications too can offer custom tiles, and now Android 13 will make it easier for users to discover and use them. Developers can use the new tile placement API to send users a system dialogue, prompting them to directly add it to the quick settings menu, with a single click.

Themed App Icons

Themed App Icons

In the last few Android releases, Google has also stressed a lot on customization, like dark mode and system-wide theme changes. With Android 13, they are taking it further and introducing themed app icons, which will automatically change to the system-wide color theme.

Programmable shaders

Android 13 further adds support for programmable RuntimeShader objects based on the Android Graphics Shading Language (AGSL). This uses Android’s own rendering engine, giving developers the option to implement more advanced visual effects on their apps.

Android 13 Release Timeline

Android 13 Timeline
Android 13 Timeline

Right now, we are only getting the initial developmental preview of Android 13, although Google has laid out a detailed timeline until final release.

This year we’re expecting to reach Platform Stability in June 2022, and from that time you’ll have several weeks before the official release to do your final testing.

– Dave Burke, VP of Engineering on Android Developers Blog

The initial developer preview is just a baseline build, meant for dev feedback, followed by the second developer preview before moving on to the beta phase. According to the timelines, Android 13 beta 3, with the finalized set of system behaviors and APIs, will be released sometime in July.

Going by this, Pixel phones will probably receive the final Android 13 update by August, plus a few months for other manufacturers.

For the full list of changes in Android 13, refer to this link here.

Indranil Chowdhury
Indranil is a Med school student and an avid gamer. He puts his absolute faith in Lord Gaben and loves to write. Crazy about the Witcher lore, he plays soccer too. When not playing games or writing, you can find him on 9gag spreading the Pcmasterrace propaganda.