It’s official: Android 13 is live, made clear by this blog post. If you’re on a Pixel 4 or higher, you can grab the software update. So what’s the full release entail? Well, Android 13 is essentially a refined version of last year’s Android release.
Material You has been whipped into shape with more colors available throughout the interface and more icons that match. The media playback controls in the Quick Settings have also been modernized, and dare I say, the iOS 16 beta matches this. If you have a Pixel Stand 2, your Pixel smartphone with the latest software will unlock Android 13’s new screensavers, too.
As we learned through the betas, Android 13 is more privacy-minded—at least in Google’s way. The new photo picker API in Android 13 works like on the iPhone with iOS 15 and up. You’ll have to grant access to a photo album before an app can access any files, leaving it up to the user to choose whether it’s all or nothing. And like on iOS, you can shut off app notifications before they even start. Android 13 requires you to approve before an app can ping you.
This new version of the software also promises to usher in the new era of large screens in Android land. Android 13 is optimized for small and large screens and brings from Android 12L a taskbar that makes the mobile OS feel like a desktop. Tablets and phones also have more interoperability with features like smooth handoff, which simplifies copying and pasting between devices. And if you use a stylus pen, Android 13 is less likely to register your palm as a separate touch, making things much easier for budding artists and excessive notetakers.
It’ll be interesting to see how Android 13 manifests on the other versions of the operating system sported by different manufacturers. Samsung’s One UI 5, built on top of the next version of Android, is still in beta, and so is OnePlus’s OxygenOS 13. Google says to expect the software update on your Samsung, Motorola, OnePlus, and other OEM-made devices later this year.