Android’s next major update, Android 13, is finally here, with the update first arriving on Google’s Pixel line of phones starting from the Pixel 4a all the way up to the newly released Pixel 6a. The update also comes a little earlier than usual for Google, which is known to push annual releases around the September-October release cycle.
There is, however, a catch in the update. Updating to Android 13, using a factory image at least, is irreversible as an update in the bootloader included with Android 13 will prevent you from flashing your device back to Android 12.
That said, the list of features is actually something we’ve seen for quite some time now with Android 13’s developer previews. Major features include the ability to customise non-Google app icons according to your home screen wallpaper, a new permission to help reduce notification spam and a privacy option to limit what media on your device can be accessed by a specific app.
Outside of that, there’s also a feature that allows users to stream messaging apps to Chromebooks. Google advertised this feature as compatible with the the secure messaging app Signal and claims that it’ll work with “many of your other favourite messaging apps, ” including Google’s own Messages app.
There’s a redesigned media player that changes appearances based on what you’re playing, Support for Bluetooth Low Energy for better sound quality when playing lower bitrate audio and reduced latency. Tablets and large-screen Android devices get better multitasking thanks to drag and drop support and better palm-rejection with styluses.
Google is planning to spend this year catching up on Apple’s ecosystem integrations as reported by The Verge earlier in January and the Android 13 update strongly indicates that. There’s support for spatial audio with compatible headphones. Google’s post doesn’t specifically say which headphones support the feature but it has already announced that its Pixel Buds Pro will be updated for spatial audio support. Similar to Apple, there’s also a feature that allows users to copy content from an Android phone and paste it on an Android tablet and vice versa.
If you own a Pixel, the update notification should’ve already hit your phone. If it hasn’t, you can get the update by heading into the phone settings and looking for an update manually. You can also use the OTA images available here or Google’s web-based Android Flash Tool here to update your Pixel.
As far as other Android devices are concerned, Google claims that other devices, including Samsung Galaxy, Asus, HMD (Nokia phones), iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, Vivo, Xiaomi and more will receive the update later this year. No date has been specified, however.