Google has announced that Android 13—this year’s main Android update—is officially launching today for its Pixel smartphones. The annual update will be officially released a little earlier than usual, following the releases of Android 12 in October of last year and Android 11 in September of the following year.
If you’ve been following the beta releases of Android 13, you may be aware of the list of updates that will be included with this year’s version of Android. The first developer beta of Android 13 showed us the ability to change non-Google app icons to match your homescreen wallpaper, a new permission to reduce notification spam, and a new choice to restrict which of your photographs and videos an app may access.
We stated in January that Google intended to spend this year trying to catch up with Apple’s ecosystem connections, and the official release of Android 13 provides more proof of this. The update adds support for spatial audio with head tracking, a function similar to Apple’s AirPods that makes sounds seem to be originating from a fixed location in space when you move your skull while using compatible headphones. The specific headphones that this will work with aren’t specified in today’s post, although Google has previously stated that it will be updating its Pixel Buds Pro to include spatial audio compatibility.
Second, similar to iMessage on the Mac, you can stream messages from programs like Google Messages directly to a Chromebook. Another function was described by Google in January. The update also includes a tool that allows you to copy material from an Android smartphone to be overlaid on an Android tablet and vice versa. One of Google’s advertising assets also demonstrates this starting to work with the messenger app Signal, and the company claims the feature will work with “many of your other favorite messaging apps.”
A media player that adapts its appearance based on what you’re listening to, assistance for Low Energy Bluetooth for enhanced sound quality at lower bandwidths and lower latency, enhanced multiple tasks on devices for drag and drop support for multiple tasks, and improved palm refusal while using styluses are some of the additional features of Android 13.