Google inspired a ton of confidence with its first Android 13 Developer Preview, which introduced a bevy of new features and security improvements. But the second Android 13 Developer Preview is even more exciting, because it finally fixes the biggest problem with notifications.
Bear in mind that these Developer Previews are incredibly buggy and unstable. You can test Android 13 if you have a relatively new Pixel phone, but I suggest waiting for the first Beta release, which should arrive in April.
Notifications Get Less Annoying
Just as the leaks and rumors suggested, Android 13 introduces a new runtime permission called “POST_NOTIFICATIONS.” That’s a convoluted way of saying that apps in Android 13 must ask for your permission to send notifications.
This new “POST_NOTIFICATION” system will also apply to previous Android releases, according to Google. Frankly, this feature is about a decade too late, but it’s nice to know that we can finally kill annoying notifications before they start bugging us.
Interestingly, Google is also introducing “downgradable permissions” for developers. If an app no longer requires certain notification permissions, its developer can remove that permission with a simple update.
Improved Text and Vectorized Emoji
Language and emoji are two of Android 13’s big focuses. This latest Developer Preview introduces several changes to how non-Latin characters appear in Android, plus vector image support for emojis, which should enable unlimited upscaling on large-screen devices.
As explained by Google, line breaks in Japanese text can be a bit clunky on Android. That’s because the default system breaks lines by characters rather than phrases. With Android 13, developers can use a new wrapper that breaks Japanese text by coherent phrases for a more “natural” sentence structure.
Additionally, Google has developed unique line heights for non-Latin languages, such as Tibetan, Tamil, Telugu, and Burmese. These languages previously used a standard line height, which often led to clipping at the top or bottom of characters.
And to improve emoji quality on large-screen devices, Android 13 adds rendering support for COLRv1. This is a new font format that quickly renders vectorized text or images at any size.
High-speed vector rendering is a pretty useful feature, especially in a fragmented ecosystem like Android. Unlike regular bitmap images, which are just a bunch of pixels, vectors are a mathematical series of shapes—they can be resized infinitely without losing any quality or getting blurry.
Bluetooth LE and MIDI 2.0
As expected, Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) will be a defining feature of Android 13. The new operating system supports Bluetooth LE Audio out the box, enabling high-fidelity audio streaming with significantly less power usage.
Bluetooth LE isn’t exactly new, and there’s a chance that it’s already supported on your phone. But default LE Audio support in Android 13 ensures that phones support the feature out the box without any programming from the manufacturer.
And for you musicians out there, Android 13 adds support for the MIDI 2.0 standard. This new iteration of MIDI boosts the resolution of inputs—basically, it increases the sensitivity and detail of MIDI hardware. Plus, it offers increased support for non-Western intonations and tunings.
When Does Android 13 Launch?
You can test the Android 13 Developer Preview today by manually flashing the OS to your Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6, Pixel 5a 5G, Pixel 5, Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 4a, Pixel 4 XL, or Pixel 4.
That said, I strongly suggest waiting for an Android 13 Beta release (or the official Android 13 release). These early Previews really only exist to give developers a head start with Android 13.
We’ll get the first Android 13 Beta release this April, according to Google’s Android 13 timeline. The operating system should reach stability by June. It will then launch in July or August—bear in mind that some phones will receive this update several months after its launch.