We tried beta 2 of Android 13: what’s new?

After unveiling a first preview of Android 13 – fairly meager in terms of new features – reserved for developers last February and then launching the first public beta of the next version of its mobile operating system at the end of April, Google is following its launch plan, leveraging Google I/ O, its annual developer conference to showcase the second Android 13 beta.

Is this second beta, which includes new features inspired by iOS and iPadOS, more promising than the previous one? We installed it on a Pixel phone and got to play around with the new stuff a bit. Here’s what we took away.

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More control over privacy

In recent years, Google has made many efforts to improve the protection of users’ personal data, in particular by establishing a system for granting installed applications access to data stored on smartphones.
With this second beta of Android 13, the Mountain View company wants to go a little further. From now on, the operating system no longer asks for access to files and multimedia content, but distinguishes between photos and videos and music and audio.
For any application that needs access to your photos and videos, it’s even possible to manually select the photos and videos you authorize access to without having to authorize full access to your photo library, as is the case with iOS is.

Among the other innovations related to security, we note that all applications must now ask your permission before sending you notifications.
Also, the content you copy to Android 13’s clipboard will be automatically deleted after a few minutes to prevent apps from accessing old copied items.

Google has also announced that a settings page dedicated to unified security and confidentiality will appear later this year. It records all the settings you choose and uses color indicators to alert you if certain settings could pose a risk to your security.

Graphic and functional innovations

Last year, Google introduced Material You with Android 12. These new graphics codes, designed to make your phone adapt its colors to your use, will continue to evolve in Android 13, thanks in particular to the introduction of new color variants. So, if you choose a set of colors, several variants of them will be applied to all interface elements of the operating system.

Android 13 will also go one step further. In particular, on Pixel smartphones, thematic icons can be activated in the settings so that the icons of the applications installed on your device adopt the main color theme you have chosen. Be careful though, if this color theme extends beyond Google apps, developers will need to support this feature during their development.

A new multimedia widget

On the multimedia side, the miniature player widget that can be found on the locked screen or in the notification center also changes. The user interface automatically adapts to the colors of the media being played and shows, for example, the cover of the album you are listening to.

Android 13 will be multilingual

In addition to the new interface graphics, Android 13 will also change certain functional aspects. So if you are lucky enough to be a polyglot, Android 13 will allow you to configure the language of your applications individually from each other and from the language used in the operating system.
Perfect if you use a specific and more or less exotic application to chat with friends in a language other than French.

A universal search engine on Pixels

Pixel phone owners can search for anything from one place. In Android 13, Pixel Launcher’s search bar can query to find items locally on the device, but also to search online on Google.

Shades of gray before bed

Android 13 Beta 2 also introduces a new feature in Digital Wellbeing settings. If you’re used to configuring bedtime mode, you can now enable a “grayscale” mode that will be activated automatically when bedtime mode is triggered.

Android 13’s interface will then abandon all shimmering colors for a black and white interface (or rather shades of gray), enough to encourage you to put your smartphone on your bedside table to fall into your Morpheus arms .

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