Just days before the end of April, Google has met its original release window with the arrival of Android 13 Beta 1. This switches the track from Developer Preview to Beta, which means that it’s a little less likely to have issues and that it’s easier to install than before.
Unlike last year’s complete overhaul, Android 13 seems primarily focused on boosting privacy and security. Today’s blog post specifically highlights developer productivity and continued support for tablets and foldables among the company’s priorities. Much of this release is made up of features Google announced earlier this year, including the notification permissions and per-app language support that first debuted with DP2 in March. However, the company has several new features worth checking out — especially if you’re a developer.
Fitting with Google’s focus on privacy, Android 13 now uses granular permissions for any app requiring media file access. Rather than requesting access to all media file types, any app accessing your photos, videos, or audio files will have to ask the user for access to all three of those respective types. It might not be the most exciting addition to Android, but making it easier to ensure that some random ringtone app from the Play Store isn’t able to view your photos is a big boost to privacy.
Thankfully, Google has bundled these prompts for users, which should prevent them from feeling overwhelmed when you first launch a new app. These changes should pair well with that new iOS-like photo picker first announced with Android 13 DP1.
A couple of new audio routing APIs are included in Beta 1, capable of generating a list of devices that can currently play a specific media file and showing whether a user can play the audio stream back directly. These options could tie in with the tap-to-transfer feature we exclusively reported on back in January, which would allow users to move playback between devices. We still don’t know a lot about this tool, including whether these APIs actually tie into it, but it’s something we’ll be keeping an eye on as we test future beta releases.
Finally, error reporting in Keystore and KeyMint is now more detailed and accurate. A new exception class hierarchy displays the cause of the error, whether it’s a system/key issue, and whether attempting to re-run the action again will properly work. This change should allow developers to better identify problems with the app’s key generation, and whether a new key is needed to continue.
With today’s release, we’re one step closer to the official launch of Android 13, still planned for sometime after July. If you have a compatible Pixel (Pixel 4 or later), jumping in should be as easy as opting your phone in at the Android Beta Program site. Unfortunately, Google’s continued Android 12 QPR beta program has made this a bit more complicated than in years past.
If you aren’t currently active in a beta program, select an eligible device and choose Android 13 from the list of available betas. If you were previously enrolled in the Android 12 beta — and, as such, you’re currently receiving QPR beta releases — you’ll need to opt out before rejoining for Beta 1. Google warns that this might require wiping your device.
You can still manually install sideloadable images for Android 13 the old-fashioned way — it’s faster if you’re impatient. Those already on Android 13 preview releases should see an OTA to Beta 1 landing soon.
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