Google has announced that the latest version of Android, Android 13, will be available for the Pixel phones starting today. Following the releases of Android 12 in October and Android 11 in September 2020, the annual update is being made available to the public a little earlier than usual.
If you’ve been following the beta releases of Android 13, you’re probably already familiar with the list of updates coming with this year’s version of Android. The first developer preview of Android 13 introduced several new features, including the ability to change the icon of any app, not just Google ones, to better match your homescreen’s wallpaper, a new permission to reduce notification spam, and a new option to control which of your photos and videos an app can access.
As we predicted in January, Android 13 is further proof that Google intends to spend this year catching up to Apple’s ecosystem integrations. The update adds head tracking support, which works with spatial audio to make it seem as though sounds are emanating from a single location even as the user moves their head, much like the way Apple’s AirPods do. While it is unclear from today’s post exactly which headphones are compatible, Google has previously stated that its Pixel Buds Pro will be updated to include support for spatial audio.
Second, like iMessage on a Mac, Chrome OS allows apps like Google Messages to stream messages directly to a Chromebook. Another of Google’s features that was announced in January. One of Google’s marketing materials shows this working with the messaging app Signal, and the company says it will work with “many of your other favorite messaging apps.” There is also a new feature in the update that allows you to copy and paste text from your Android phone to your Android tablet, or vice versa.
Other new features in Android 13 include app-by-app language settings, an adaptive media player that changes its appearance depending on the content being played, support for Bluetooth Low Energy for higher quality audio at lower bitrates and lower latency, enhanced multitasking on large-screen devices with drag-and-drop multitasking support, and improved palm rejection when using styluses.
Although Google hasn’t said which Pixel phones are getting the Android 13 update today, beta versions of the operating system have been made available for the Pixel 4 all the way up to the Pixel 6A, which was just released last month. Samsung, Oppo, OnePlus, HMD, Motorola, Realme, Sony, Xiaomi, and Asus devices will receive the Android update “later this year,” Google’s Sameer Samat writes in today’s announcement post.