At the Virtual I/O 2022 Developers Conference, Google demonstrated notable improvements to the company’s many technology vines, from map imaging to new and upcoming devices and, of course, operating system (OS) enhancements.
The big news on this front is that Android 13 is now in public beta. It gives users and developers a new suite of extensions introduced in Android 12 last year and new tools to experiment and tweak their quality of life.
With everyone’s privacy in mind, one of the most exciting changes is the inclusion of encrypted 1-to-1 message conversations. A feature similar to Apple’s photo picker on iOS, the photo picker lets you choose which apps can access which photos instead of giving each app an entire album. However, much more has been announced beyond privacy corrections, including convenient wallet features, expanded Material You features, emergency SOS extensions, and a nice new per-app language setting.
Early adopters and developers must register New Android 13 OS testing(Opens in a new window) On all eligible devices, including Pixel and various third-party manufacturers such as Asus, Lenovo, OnePlus, Sharp, Vivo and ZTE. Android 13 is beta software. Bugs, errors, and missing features may appear, so be aware of them before diving into the details. So far, our favorite features in Google’s latest OS are:
1. More Resources
Material You is a unique way to personalize your user interface (UI) based on your wallpaper, which affects Android’s color palette. Simply put, Android adopts a color scheme that matches the wallpaper. New pre-made color variants introduced in Android 13 give you more expressive options. This feature is also being expanded to include third-party app icons that were previously limited to system apps only.
Google has also extended Material You to cover media controls. As you listen to music, the player window draws color from the album artwork for everything you want to disturb, and the progress bar changes to an audio wave that moves along with the music.
2. Language Personalization by App
For advanced and multilingual Android users, you can now set your preferred language on a per-app basis. This is a fantastic addition even for overseas Android users who aren’t confident in navigating their phone in a single language. After all, some people speak different languages depending on the situation. For example, my father speaks English, but he writes in Spanish. Now he can find and use messaging apps in his preferred language and still enjoy silly meme videos in English. Likewise, if you prefer to use your device in English, but you are studying or want some apps in another language you speak fluently, Android 13 now has a product.
3. RCS Messaging Improvements
As mentioned earlier, Google is working with carriers to upgrade Short Message Service (SMS) to Rich Communication Services (RCS) to provide even better privacy features, including end-to-end encryption for one-to-one conversations. Group chats in messages will also be encrypted later this year. RCS goes beyond simple privacy protection to support high-quality photo sharing and large file sharing as well.
4. Android Photo Picker
Android 13 adopts a photo selection option similar to iOS. This new feature lets you select the photos and videos an app can access instead of giving that app access to your entire photo library.
5. Google Wallet Update
Google Wallet extends beyond a simple service-oriented payment method. Wallet includes a new generic card tab where you can store everything not covered in previous pass types, such as membership cards and reservations. With Google Wallet’s already powerful filing system for payment cards, gift cards, transit passes, and antivirus cards, Android 13 makes this an excellent digital alternative to physical cards.
Another major improvement is the inclusion of digital IDs. Google has been working with US state and foreign governments to support digital IDs for Google Wallet, and the feature is expected to launch later this year.
Most importantly, Google Wallet stores everything on your phone and does not share data with Google services.
6. Expansion of emergency SOS
Telephone and technology are very important in emergency situations. We hope you are not in a situation where you need to ask for help. But when this happens, your phone is your lifeline. To that end, Google is launching Emergency SOS with Android 12, allowing you to contact trusted people and share emergency information without unlocking your phone. This feature is being extended in Android 13 to work with Wear OS watches.
Google is also extending its early earthquake warnings to high-risk areas around the world. With this tool, Android can crowdsource your phone’s earthquake warning signs, allowing Google to analyze the data and send alerts to those around you. Combining this with Android’s emergency location services feature to allow first responders to locate you when you call for help, you can rest a lot safer at night knowing you’re connected to an active network to keep you safe. .
For a quick breakdown of all beta changes and improvements in Android 13, see: A handy blog from Google(Opens in a new window). And check all Google News, including previews and reviews, with PCMag.