While Android 12 is still only just making its way onto supported phones that don’t have ‘Pixel’ in their name, there are already hints relating to what we can expect from the next major release of Google’s mobile OS – Android 13.
Expected to launch in Autumn 2022, existing reports point to Android 13 building on newly-established Android 12 features (like Material You), while also introducing new additions that cover everything from privacy and security, to gaming and battery performance.
What is Android 13’s codename?
While Android’s development team shelved the practice of revealing each major release’s codename to the public once reaching Android 10, internally, it continued and fans are always curious to learn what each new release is colloquially called at Google.
If you’re unaware, each iteration of Android (since version 1.5, at least) has come with a codename inspired by a sweet treat, with each subsequent release adopting a new name, running in alphabetical order.
Android 1.5 was labelled ‘Cupcake’, while 1.6 was ‘Donut, 2.0 ‘Eclair’, 2.2 ‘Froyo’, 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’, 3.0 ‘Honeycomb’, 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’, 4.1 ‘Jellybean’, 4.4 ‘KitKat’, 5.0 ‘Lollipop’, 6.0 ‘Marshmallow’, 7.0 ‘Nougat’, 8.0 ‘Oreo’ and Android 9.0 ‘Pie’.
While Android 10’s official codename was listed as simply ‘Android10’, its unofficial codename is cited as being ‘Quince Tart’, while Android 11’s is ‘Red Velvet Cake’ and Android 12’s is thought to be ‘Snow Cone’.
For the letter ‘T’, Android 13 looks to be taking a trip to Italy, with the supposed codename being ‘Tiramisu’. Delicious.
When can I get Android 13?
The Android developer site (and social channels) are yet to make any formal announcements around the release of Android 13, but tracking previous years’ releases provides a framework to, at least, roughly follow.
Each generation of Android undergoes numerous stages in its development before finally making its way to the masses, starting with developer previews, before more complete public betas arrive, after which a general release takes place; usually spearheaded by Google’s own Pixel phones and those manufacturers who subscribe to the each update’s Android Developer Preview Program.
Here’s when previous Android releases (and their respective betas) arrived:
Android 9 Pie
First public beta: 8 May 2018
Full version release: 6 August 2018
First public beta: 7 May 2019
Full version release: 3 September 2019
First public beta: 10 June 2020
Full version release: 8 September 2020
First public beta: 18 May 2021
Full version release: 4 October 2021
Android 11’s and 12’s first developer previews actually made their debuts in February 2020 and 2021, respectively, with the first public beta for each recent Android release consistently being made available in May, each year.
With this in mind, expect the first Android 13 developer preview to land as early as February 2022, the first public beta to be served up in May and the first stable build of ‘Tiramisu’ to hit devices in the Autumn, most likely in September.
Which phones will get Android 13?
The safest way to ensure you’re going to receive an invite to the next release of Android is to own a recent Google Pixel phone, with every Pixel launched since 2019’s Pixel 4 line already promised an upgrade to Android 13.
Here’s the list of Pixels already set to receive Android 13:
Beyond Google’s own Pixel phones, the Android 13 whitelist becomes a little trickier to map out. After years of severe fragmentation, big brands (like Samsung, OnePlus and Vivo) have started making more concrete promises; matching Google’s three-year OS update commitment. Other companies, meanwhile, still seem to decide how many new generations of Android their smartphones and tablets will receive in a lifetime on a device-by-device basis.
The best way to find out is to check with each manufacturer directly but for those looking for a cheat sheet, our ‘Best Brands for Android Updates’ feature should also shed some light on those phone makers that’ll be bringing Android 13 to their existing lineups.
What’s new in Android 13?
The biggest shift brought about by Android 12 – to Pixel users at least – was the introduction of Material You: a new design language for the Android user experience. Beyond that, the update showcased a heap of new privacy and security controls, not to mention convenient (and overdue) extras, like scrollable screenshots and even a one-handed mode.
So far, with no official Android 13 information out in the open, it’s been the job of diligent developers and enthusiasts to dig around and unearth potential features and improvements destined to grace 2022’s big Android release, with the bulk of known and expected features consolidated by the likes of Android Police and the team at XDA Developers.
Lock screen clock placement
The lock screen clock, as it appears on near-stock and AOSP builds of Google’s mobile OS sits front and centre on-screen, occupying most of the display. While some skinned versions of Android allow for lock screen customisation to some degree, seldom is there the option to shift the clock around.
Android 13 will supposedly support such a feature natively, letting you alter the style and placement of the clock, branded the ‘double-line clock’. There are even signs that this particular update might arrive even sooner, as part of Android 12L.
Switch account from lock screen
Sticking with the lock screen, while Android already supports multiple users and there are multiple ways to change users on-device, Android 13 may introduce a new option that lets different users switch profiles, directly from the lock screen.
NFC payments for secondary users
One key feature that secondary users aren’t able to access when sharing a single device is the ability to make NFC payments, something that only the primary user has access to. Android 13 looks as though it’ll add contactless payment support for multiple users on one device.
Android Beam was meant to be the platform’s answer to AirDrop on iOS, with the added convenience of being able to initiate a connection with a simple NFC ‘handshake’ by placing two devices back to back.
Frustratingly, it never quite took off in the same way and has since been replaced by Nearby Share, which offers similar convenient sharing but through a mix of Bluetooth and WiFi Direct instead.
Trusted sources have now informed AndroidPolice of a potential forthcoming feature codenamed ‘Media TTT’ (along with a set of relevant screenshots) that looks to be using close proximity-based connectivity technology (potentially NFC) as a means of ‘throwing’ media to other devices and outputs.
Little else is known about the feature but it’s assumed that, if it does appear in Android 13, it’ll manifest as ‘Tap-to-transfer’ and support more convenient file and media sharing on the platform.
UWB support to get wider
Android 12 added native support for UWB (ultra-wideband) connectivity, a feature only really leveraged by the Pixel 6 Pro – the only Pixel to currently support the feature (UWB-capable devices from other manufacturers, like Samsung and Honor, rely on their own UWB software support to function).
An UWB ‘generic hardware abstraction layer’ is apparently in the works for Android 13, offering a common toolset for manufacturers to work with when implementing the technology on their devices going forward.
More colour for Material You
One of the novel talents of Material You is its ability to theme the entirety of your device’s interface by automatically colour-picking a palette based on (and thus complementing) your chosen lock screen/home screen wallpaper.
This palette uses what Google’s branded as “tonal spot” colours, however, Android 13 looks set to introduce three additional variations: “Vibrant” which adds a little more diversity to the palette, “Expressive” which expands the range of colours used beyond those of the wallpaper influenced swatch, while “Spritz” will offer a desaturated alternative, for a more muted appearance.
Audio output picker glow-up
The output picker implemented in Android 10 which lets users choose where the audio for their chosen media is channelled to (headphones, loudspeaker, Bluetooth-connected speakers, etc.), may well get a makeover in Android 13.
In its current guise, the feature adds independent volume sliders for each available output source, although this implementation may be subject to change before release.
Full Bluetooth LE audio support
The foundation for Bluetooth Low Energy audio support may have been laid in Android 12, but Android 13 looks set to actually bring the functionality to life.
Android 13 may be the first release to add full support for Bluetooth LE Audio.
Google recently merged an LC3 (the LE Audio codec) encoder and is adding the codec as an option in settings. It’ll be the highest priority A2DP source codec.
Commits: https://t.co/tXicKLMZbq pic.twitter.com/ZHcd22grEs
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman)
December 21, 2021
As spotted by technical analyst Mishaal Rahman, at present Bluetooth LE has only ever been used for data transmission but Google looks to be folding in LC3 (the Low Complexity Communications Codec) for Bluetooth A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) to deliver high-quality audio with lower power demands by way of Bluetooth LE in Android 13.
Android already has a fairly robust notification management system, but Android 13 may also give users the ability to grant or deny newly-installed applications notification privileges from the get-go, just like iOS does.
QR code scanner
Like one-handed mode – which finally found a home in Android 12 – one long-overdue addition in Android 13 could be the shortcut to a dedicated QR code scanner. The average user might not realise that their camera (or Google Lens) can already scan QR codes but Google apparently wants to make the process more obvious and accessible.
AndroidPolice already has screenshots of a new quick settings shortcut to a QR code scanner, as well as the ability to access it from the lock screen. Whether this is a separate app of feature from the existing implementations of QR code scanning built into Android is unclear.
Google Assistant home button toggle
There are already a lot of ways to invoke the Google Assistant on most Android phones (particularly Pixels) but there are signs that, for those who still prefer navigating around their devices with on-screen buttons (in place of edge gestures), the ability to toggle long-pressing the home button to summon the Assistant will be reinstated.
Opening games faster
Rahman again spotted updated AOSP code that suggests phones running Android 13 will be able to launch games faster, by way of an API that boosts CPU performance momentarily.
Lesson learned: Take screenshots of AOSP code changes because you never know when Google might make them private.
All I have as evidence of this feature is a screenshot of the tabs I had open before. pic.twitter.com/YngwIOd2LV
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman)
January 26, 2022
Pixel phones are most likely going to be the primary beneficiaries of such a feature but it’s unclear at this stage as to whether it’ll also be accessible to other devices too.
Native support for DNS over HTTPS
New code in the AOSP points to the potential of upgraded security, thanks to the addition of support for DNS over HTTPS.
As per XDA Developers’ piece on the feature, Android currently supports DNS over TLS (usually abbreviated to ‘DoT’), however, DNS over HTTPS (or ‘DoH’ for short) uses the HTTP or HTTP/2 encryption protocol, which offers a slight advantage over DoT’s TLS encryption, with regards to privacy.
Multilinguists rejoice! A feature codenamed ‘Panlingual’ should allow users to specify language settings on an app by app basis, meaning those who use apps that aren’t natively in the same language as their device’s system language won’t have to worry about working with a poorly translated app.
Ideal for bilingual, trilingual and polyglots who might prefer to have different apps set to different languages, everywhere.
Phantom process toggle
Android 12 introduced a power management feature called ‘PhantomProcessKiller’ which, as the name suggests, stops processes running in the background in an effort to free up resources and prevent excessive power drain.
Updates to AOSP suggest that Google has seen the error in this indiscriminate approach – particularly where power users are concerned – and looks to be adding a toggle into Android’s developer options that will let users disable the PhantomProcessKiller if they wish.
TARE: The Android Resource Economy
As part of how Android handles power management going forward, TARE (The Android Resource Economy) looks to be a feature Google is currently working on that awards or deducts ‘credits’ from an app, based on how many processes it tries to perform through ‘JobScheduler’ and ‘AlarmManager’, relative to the device’s battery percentage.
We’ll have to wait until Google publishes official information on TARE to better understand how it’ll operate but it sounds like a novel way to handle app processes and device power management on Android 13.