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Android 13 was first released in August 2022 and is now available on all the best phones, including the flagship Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Pro. While the big version upgrade may be out in the open now, Google isn't done with Android 13 just yet. The company keeps releasing new quarterly feature drops to its Pixel smartphones, with some of their features also trickling down to other Android phones as part of monthly security patches. Even if Android 14 and its beta program may be the hot new thing in town, stay here with us for an overview of what Android 13 is, what the latest Feature Drops have added to the release, and how you can get it on your phone.

If your phone already got Google's 2022 OS update, you may want to jump ahead to our Android 13's best new features guide. For a more streamlined and opinionated dive into the operating system, check out our Android 13 review.

Android 13: a brief introduction

We got our first glimpse at Android 13 in February 2022 when Google released the first developer preview of the software to help developers get their apps ready for the stable release. The first Android 13 beta was released in May 2022 and was publicly available to anyone brave enough to use beta firmware on their Pixel phone. After that, the company focused on improving the last few bits and pieces leading up to the August 2022 launch of the software.

Like every year, the newest release of Android rolled out to Pixel phones first. However, as always, the company waved goodbye to some of its older phones. Devices older than the Pixel 4 and 4a are cut off from further Android version upgrades, with the former only getting updates until October 2022 and the latter until August 2023.

It was expected that Android 13 would launch earlier than other recent Android releases as the first developer preview came out in February, and in the end, things panned out that way. With the release coming to us on August 15, 2022.

Pixel Feature Drop updates

Android 13 is filled with changes, big and small. That's why we put together this comprehensive list of what's new and changed, starting with what's new in the Android March 13, 2023, Pixel Feature Drop. The company is working on its June 2023 Feature Drop, which is now available as the Android 13 QPR3 beta program.

What’s new in Android 13’s June 2023 Pixel Feature Drop

Google usually releases its security patches and Pixel Feature Drops on the first day of the month, but it has strayed from this unwritten rule more often than not in recent months. The same is true for the June Pixel Feature Drop, which launched on June 13, 2023, about a week later than we would usually expect. The new launch offers quite a ton of updates, though, many of which have either already popped up in Android 14 Beta 3 or in the Android 13 QPR beta releases.

Emergency sharing via Google Assistant and better road safety

With the June Feature Drop, it is now possible to use Google Assistant to get an emergency sharing session started. Emergency sharing is a Pixel feature that you can turn on when you don’t feel safe, like when you’re out for a run during the night, that will automatically contact predefined emergency contacts for you unless you check in with the feature. To activate it via Google Assistant, you need to say, “Hey Google, start a safety check for x minutes.”

Google is also improving road safety. Google Pixel phones can already detect when you’re in a severe car crash and will automatically call emergency services for you when you’re unresponsive. With the June Feature Drop, it will now also share your location and your call status with your emergency contacts.

Camera improvements for Pixel phones

The June Feature Drop adds a few new camera capabilities. The Google Pixel 6 and newer now support a gesture-controlled timer. When you take a photo of yourself and set a timer for either three or 10 seconds, you can now raise your palm to activate the countdown. This makes hands-free selfies more seamless, as you can position yourself as needed without worrying about the timer already ticking while you’re not ready.

The Google Pixel 7 Pro is also in for macro video recordings. Like with macro photos, the video camera will now utilize the ultrawide camera’s ultra-close focus to create sharp videos at a close range. Even though the Pixel 6 Pro is also capable of macro photography, it looks like Google decided not to make this feature available to it.

New wallpaper tools

During its developer conference Google I/O, the company teased that it will add cinematic wallpapers that offer a 3D effect and emoji wallpapers that allow you to customize your background with emoji and patterns of your choosing. Both of these options are becoming available with the June Feature Drop.

Emoji wallpapers can be set up via the Wallpaper & style shortcut that you can access via a long-press on an empty spot on your home screen. You can choose any emoji combination you could come up with and you have a selection of patterns that are available in a variety of sizes, allowing you to customize your emoji experience to your liking. There are also a few different background colors to choose from. When you set an emoji wallpaper as your background, it animates when you tap anywhere on your home screen or when you unlock. Upon plugging in your phone, your selected emoji briefly flip over to turn into lighting bolts. It's possible to turn off all these animations, and you can save and edit a variety of different emoji wallpapers.

Cinematic wallpapers are similar to the cinematic photos you may know from Google Photos. Here, Google intelligently separates the subjects from the background and animates them both separately to create a distinct 3D effect video. Cinematic wallpapers work similarly, but since they're attached to your wallpaper, they animate when you move the phone to create an even more convincing effect. It's likely that you will be able to choose from the same pool of images that is also available to be turned into cinematic photos via the Photos app's Library → Utilities section, though we still need to test this feature thoroughly to see how well it works.

Emoji wallpapers have already been available in Android 14 Beta 3 for some while cinematic wallpapers are new to Android altogether. The two wallpaper options were spotted in the code a while ago, even before they were announced at I/O.

Improved quick access to smart home controls

For a long time, Pixel phones have allowed you to quickly access smart home controls via shortcuts on the lock screen and in the notification shade. The interface that you can access via these hooks is much simpler than what an app like Google Home would give you. With the June Feature Drop, Google is severely revamping the interface, bringing it mostly in line with the way the redesigned Google Home app looks and behaves.

android-13-june-feature-drop-home-panel Large
Source: Google

According to Mishaal Rahman, third-party home apps will also be able to utilize the tools that made this redesign possible, allowing them to offer a customized quick home controls panel of their own and in an interface that they deem fitting.

Safer PIN entry screen

Your device PIN can be used as a path to enter your Google account, so it's best to keep it as secure as possible. Google is adding an option that should make it more difficult for shoulder surfers to take a glimpse at your lock screen before they steal your phone. A new option in Security & privacy → Device Unlock named Enhanced PIN privacy makes it possible to hide both the numbers you enter and the animations for pressing buttons. While you should still be careful in public, this makes it much harder to see at a glance what you're entering in your PIN pad.

Animation of more private PIN entry on Android 13 QPR3 Beta 2

This same option was long available in the Android 13 QPR3 beta build and can also be activated in Android 14 Beta 3.

Better haptics and better charging

The Pixel 7a and Pixel 6a were criticized by some for poor vibration motors. Google is offering a remedy for anyone who feels this way. Both phones’ system settings offer a new toggle under Sound & vibration → Vibration & haptics called Adaptive alert vibration. The description of the feature tells you everything you need to know about: “Reduces vibration strength while your phone is still and the screen is facing up.” This means your phone will not be as loud as it might otherwise be in this configuration.

Adaptive charging improvements are coming to all supported Pixel phones. Google says it has optimized the AI that powers this feature, which is now supposed to be even more accurate in predicting how long you usually charge your phone. The AI then only fully charges your phone about an hour before you unplug it. This is meant to preserve your battery’s health in the long term.

New Google Recorder capabilities

Google Recorder is more often used as a tool for memos than for long-term interview recordings, and as such, you might want to be able to share your voice recordings in a pretty package. Google is making this possible with the June Feature Drop. A new version of Recorder adds an option to export your memos as a video, complete with the option to display speaker labels. It's now also possible to search the transcript for speaker labels and export it to Google Docs. Google Recorder is not an Android update per se, but since Google included it with the Feature Drop announcement, we didn't want to omit it either.

What's new in Android 13's March 2023 Pixel Feature Drop

Google started releasing bigger mid-cycle updates to Android, and Android 13 is no exception. These Quarterly Platform Releases (or QPR for short) bring a few select new features that are mostly targeted at the company's Pixel phone lineup. For a deep dive into what's new, check out our ongoing Feature Drop changelog, but we have a quick rundown here:

  • Faster and better Night Sight for Pixel 6 and 6 Pro: A Pixel 7 and 7 Pro feature is making its way into Google's 2021 flagships. The night photography mode is faster and improved, thanks to a better algorithm. Since the camera is Pixel-exclusive, this won't make it to other phones.
  • Magic Eraser on all Pixel phones: Google's impressive Magic Eraser repair tool is now available on all currently supported Pixel phones for free. The company previously made it a part of Google One. If you're a subscriber, you can use Magic Eraser on any phone, including the Apple iPhone.
  • See timers from smart speakers on your Pixel: The March Feature Drop also sees the official introduction of a feature Google has been experimenting with for a while. You can see timers you've set on Google smart speakers in the upper-left corner of your Pixel phone's homescreen and lock screen.
  • Direct My Call improvements for Pixel phones: All Pixel phones show you a call menu with options for you to pick from even before the robot finishes telling you which options you have. This is available for select toll-free numbers in the U.S.
  • Health Connect is becoming a preinstalled app: The Pixel phones include the Health Connect app by default, making it easier for fitness app providers to share and sync data across services privately and securely on your device.
  • Multiple eSIMS: Google added the option to use two eSIMs simultaneously on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, new emoji kitchen combinations, and digital car key support via UWB on the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro.

What's new in Android 13's December 2022 Pixel Feature Drop

The first QPR to hit Android 13 was the December Feature Drop. The company introduced some long-promised features to Pixel phones, including Clear Calling and a free VPN for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.

  • Clear Calling: With Clear Calling, phone calls are easier to understand when you're in a loud environment. This feature will be exclusive to the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro for the foreseeable future and can be turned on in system settings under Sound & vibration.
  • Free VPN for Pixel 7: This is another exclusive feature for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. Owners of the new Google phones have access to the same Google One VPN that's usually part of Google's subscription service. It's a good option for added privacy when connected to a public Wi-Fi network, but it doesn't allow you to change your location virtually.
  • Better battery stats: On Pixel phones, Android 12 and Android 13 did away with battery stats based on the last time you fully charged. Instead, phones would only display battery stats based on the previous 24 hours. Google recognizes that knowing what drained the most battery during one particular cycle is more useful and brought back the old way of displaying battery stats with Android 13's first Feature Drop.
  • Media player tweak: The Android 13 media player, with its squiggly line representing playback, lost its scrubbing dot in favor of a vertical line.
  • New fingerprint animation: When authenticating for online banking and similar things, there's a little green checkmark in the place of the fingerprint sensor when you've successfully authenticated yourself.
  • Toggle for reverse wireless charging: Android 13's December Feature Drop lets you choose whether to use the wireless reverse charging feature when you plug in your phone. Previously, the reverse wireless charging option turned on automatically for 10 minutes after plugging in your phone, only deactivating when it didn't detect any accessories set down to charge.

Android 13's internal codename

All Android versions used to come with delicious, sweets-based codenames. Remember Android 4.4 KitKat or Android 9 Pie? While Google doesn't use these codenames for marketing purposes anymore, its developers use them internally. For Android 13, this name is Tiramisu, following up on the not-publicly used Snow Cone for Android 12, Red Velvet Cake for Android 11, and Quince Tart for Android 10.

More Material You color schemes and cinematic wallpapers come on the latest version of Android

Android 13 gives us a selection of new palettes for extracting colors from the wallpaper. In addition to the existing "tonal spot" colors, Google gives users and Android manufacturers access to three other methods:

  • Vibrant: Differs slightly in supplementary accents.
  • Expressive: Offers a wider range of colors that extend to colors not seen in the background.
  • Spritz: A desaturated, nearly monochromatic theme.

We have the details and samples on this in our exclusive coverage, and you can get your hands on these themes in the form of 16 new color extraction options in the wallpaper picker on your Pixel running Android 13.

Android 12 vs. Android 13. Note the scrollable wallpaper colors section with four more pages full of color options.

Android 13 Developer Preview 2 (DP2) also offered the first glimpse at so-called cinematic wallpapers. This could enable custom live wallpapers based on images from your photo library, much like cinematic images in Google Photos. So far, this hasn't made its way past experiments. Google is further experimenting with this in the upcoming Android 13 Quarterly Platform Release 2 (QPR2), but it's still possible that the company will add it to Android 14 at the earliest.

Alongside the launch of Android 13 DP1 in February, we learned Material You themes are coming to devices from Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo, and more. With Android 13 available on OnePlus and Samsung phones, you can now enjoy these color options on these devices.

The Google Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, and any Pixel that still receives updates get a refreshed launcher

Android 13 introduced a revamped search experience on the homescreen. A new launcher-based interface lets you search for on-device actions, Play Store and YouTube results, and Google from the search bar on your launcher.

Cropped screenshot of Google Search's universal search in Pixel Launcher

There are minor differences in how this search works depending on whether you swipe up from the bottom or tap the search bar at the bottom, but it's more powerful and feels more integrated than what we had in Android 12. You can even pin recent launcher searches to your homescreen, which can be handy.

Android 13 notifications are now opt-in

Android has always been better at managing and displaying notifications than iOS. Still, there's one thing we appreciate in Apple's ecosystem. Applications need to ask you for permission before they're allowed to send notifications.

Android 13 finally follows suit and won't allow apps to send you notifications when you install them unless you give them permission. If you upgrade from Android 12, this only affects newly installed apps, so it doesn't break existing functionality.

Like most other permissions, the notification prompt pops up when an app first runs and requests the POST_NOTIFICATIONS permission. Your options will be binary. You can either allow or deny notifications altogether. You can't select specific notification channels, which is a bummer.

There's a QR code scanner quick settings tile

We exclusively covered that Android 13 could get a quick settings tile for a QR code scanner, including some kind of lock screen functionality, and that has turned out to be true. In Android 13 DP1, we got our first glimpse at the QR scanner quick settings toggle in the notification shade, though it was grayed out and inaccessible. This has changed over the betas, and now, the QR code reader is live as a quick toggle in the stable release. It even works on the lock screen when you pull down your notification shade. Since it's tailor-made to scan QR codes, it's much faster than Google Lens or the preinstalled camera app, which both offer QR code scanning capabilities.

Android 13 supports per-app language options

As we exclusively covered even before the launch of the first developer preview, Android 13 introduced an option that allows you to set your preferred language on a per-app basis.

First two images: Per-app language settings on Android 13 DP2. Last two: Missing per-app language settings on A13 Beta 1 and stable.

The per-app language feature first went live in the Android 13 betas but was watered down for the stable release. Apps must add a specific bit of code to make it clear to Android that they support the multilingual option, even if they have resources for multiple languages and can change which they use based on your system's language.

With this in mind, it will take a while until all apps on your phone are eligible for this feature. Currently, only a handful of apps have added support for these per-app language settings, but we hope it will soon be available in virtually all multilingual apps. You can work around this with an ADB command, as Esper's Android expert Mishaal Rahman shared on Reddit.

Your battery should last longer with Android 13

Android 13 warns you when apps cause excessive battery drain in the background. The alerts appear as silent notifications, allowing you to kill the app with a single tap. If you still want the app to keep running, swipe away the notification. Once you've done that, an overview of the apps running in the background appears in the quick toggles section of the notification shade, staying out of the way but keeping those informed who want to know more about what's happening on their phone.

Google is also developing a new feature called TARE, short for "The Android Resource Economy." It's supposed to monitor how apps run in the background and which tasks they perform, awarding and taking credits from apps to limit their ability to schedule unlimited jobs for the future. Since this is still in active development, we'll likely have to wait until Google gives us proper documentation to understand exactly how it works, and it did not make the cut for Android 13.

Android 13 has UWB support, but your phone may not

Ultra-wideband, or UWB for short, is an exciting technology enabling a slew of new applications. It turns your phone into a car key, helps you find lost gadgets that support UWB, and augments features initially made possible by NFC and Bluetooth.

The Google Pixel 7 Pro and the Pixel 6 Pro have a UWB antenna on board. However, since the implementation can differ across devices and manufacturers, Android 13 adds a generic hardware abstraction layer that gives all Android devices a shared foundation for how UWB works. This makes it easier for manufacturers and app developers to implement these futuristic features in their products.

For the Google Pixel 6 Pro, a few UWB features will make their way into the Android 12 January security patch, but the full system-wide abstraction layer should only come in Android 13.

Bluetooth Low-Energy Audio support is included

Android 13 is the first version of Android to introduce fully-fleshed-out support for Bluetooth Low-Energy Audio. The standard is meant as a replacement or at least an alternative for regular Bluetooth audio streaming. It brings a slew of improvements to the table: lower energy consumption at almost the same audio quality, multi-stream support to send signals to both of your earbuds at the same time (or to multiple headphones or speakers at once), and full support for the features introduced in Google's Bluetooth hearing aid protocol.

Devices need to be equipped with the appropriate hardware to provide you with Bluetooth LE Audio streaming, but this will only be a question of time as new phones, tablets, headphones, and speakers are released.

Assistant gestures make their return with Android 13

Gesture navigation may be the new default way of interacting with your phone. Still, many people prefer the three-button navigation of old, whether for accessibility reasons or just because they're used to it. Those who do can now optionally enjoy using Assistant via a long press on the Home button again.

A new toggle in the navigation settings allows you to select holding the Home button as your preference, so you don't need to rely on the power button to invoke Assistant. Similarly, Google is bringing back the swipe-up-from-the-corner gesture for Assistant when you use gesture navigation. This can be set up from the same place in System Settings.

A new media player and output picker are part of the OS update

Android 10 introduced an output picker for audio and other media, allowing you to choose how you'd like to listen to something: on your phone, your wireless headphones, or your Bluetooth speakers. Android 13 has an all-new look for this feature, with a total redesign for selecting the destination for your audio and the media player.

It looks even better than we expected, using the album cover of your currently playing media as the background. Google also introduced a snazzy new squiggly animation that grooves along with you and your music.

Android 13 could also give us a feature first promised in Android 11. As discovered by Mishaal Rahman, a future update of Android 13 could add the option to connect to Cast devices from the media output picker in your notification shade. This functionality was initially promised for Android 11. However, it never rolled out.

The Google Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, and Pixel 6 series get spatial audio support

Android 13 added a spatializer effect, which manifested as Google's version of the iPhone's spatial audio feature. This could be good news for anyone who loves to enjoy their audio content the best way possible on their Pixel 6. Supported Bluetooth headphones offer a toggle for the feature.

The lock screen is better

Android 12's new Material You design and the upcoming interface changes need more fine-tuning. Those who dislike the overblown lock screen clock, in particular when they don't have notifications, can enjoy a pleasant change in Android 13. Google introduced a toggle for disabling the huge clock, labeled as "Double-line clock." This isn't exclusive to Android 13, though. The option already made its way into Android 12L, which was under development at the same time as Android 13.

Gaming may be better with Android 13

Mishaal Rahman found an interesting tidbit of information regarding devices that launch with Android 13. A new API allows games to temporarily boost the CPU speed while they're loading, making it possible to launch titles quicker than before.

It looks like some Pixel phones could get updated to take advantage of this API, but this isn't a given for most currently available phones. We haven't heard much more about this after the official launch of Android 13, so this might not have come to fruition.

There's a new photo picker that's much more refined

Android 13 introduces a new photo picker that offers a more streamlined experience when you add images to your messages. Instead of using the full-blown document picker, apps that you use to send or upload photos can use this to preserve your privacy and only give you relevant results.

Google is also bringing this new photo picker to older Android versions via its Play Services system updates, so it might be adopted a little quicker. The media picker will be available on versions as old as Android 4.4 KitKat, released in 2013.

Third-party Material You icons are on board

We've complained extensively about how Material You limits its app icon theming to Google's services and nothing else. It clashes with the rest of your homescreen, resulting in an unfinished look that's pushed some Android Police writers back to third-party launchers and icon packs.

Google Pixel 7 Pro laying on top of small jute bag with home screen showing Material You-themed icons

With Android 13, Google will bring dynamic icon themes to all apps, assuming developers choose to support it. We've already seen a ton of third-party apps introduce support for it, and we have a list of all the apps that support themed icons we found.

Quick Settings Placement API means no more unexpected tiles

Developers have had the option to add tiles to Android's quick settings menu for years, but with 2022's update, teaching people how to use these tiles becomes easier.

The Quick Settings Placement API allows apps to advertise their tiles with a pop-up notification, making these tools and shortcuts more evident to the average smartphone owner. While there's always the risk of abuse with prompts like these, it seems to be a great way for developers to make better use of an underutilized part of Android.

Cropped screenshot of quick settings tile addition dialog

Major improvements for the clipboard are coming with the update Android has long been improving clipboard management, and the latest release takes things up another notch. When you copy text in Android 13, you see a small floating panel that allows you to view and change the contents of your clipboard. This makes it easy to tweak URLs or addresses before sharing them. The clipboard additionally auto-clears after a certain time as a privacy measure, which is good if you copy your email addresses, phone numbers, or login credentials. Otherwise, nosy bad actors could get access to these sensitive details.

For some, Android 13 also includes a Nearby Share shortcut within the clipboard. This doesn't appear to be widely rolled out yet, though.

There's an Easter egg (of course)

Android 13's Easter egg is a little disappointing in how similar it looks to Android 12's design, though it's hard to be mad when your display is covered with emojis.

Android 13 ships with predictive back gestures

Google is preparing a tweak to the back gesture that shows when you are about to exit the app and go to the homescreen. It's a small change that requires a large amount of work behind the scenes, and as such, the feature remains experimental in stable Android 13.

To see how it works and looks, activate predictive back gestures in the developer options. Even then, only a handful of apps work with this, as it requires tweaks from app developers. Google News and system settings are the only apps we've spotted working with it on Android 13.

Google will only make this tweak a part of the default experience in Android 14. Maybe the company has more interesting changes planned for gesture navigation with this release. These kinds of animations could also be used to transition between sections of apps or when moving from app to app.

Extended treble compatibility for the beta

While you won't need it now that Android 13 is stable, the Android 13 beta officially worked with all devices that are compatible with Treble. This makes it easier for developers to get ready for the new release when they don't own a Pixel device, even though some important features, like phone audio, don't work on these builds.

Additional minor changes in Android 13

A handful of small changes in the new OS version are worth rounding up.

Things that didn't pan out for Android 13

These features may not be coming to your Android phone in the near future, but they could be part of future Android versions.


One thing that hasn't quite made it to the stable release is tap-to-transfer. It's supposed to be similar to Android Beam, which allows you to tap two phones to send links, files, and more to each other. In Android 13, this feature was supposed to focus on sharing media, so you could tap a smart speaker to play the media on your phone.

This feature might still make it to Android 13 after its release via Play Services or a Pixel Feature Drop but don't hold your breath. It might as well be delayed for Android 14. We don't know which technology it will use, but NFC and UWB seem like the obvious candidates.

Better multi-user support

Google has focused on tablets again lately, even after the official launch of Android 12L. In Android 13 previews, a ton of changes to how multi-user profiles work were spotted, but it doesn't look like they're making the cut. From a redesigned profile picker screen for tablets to colorful new icons for your avatar, there would have been plenty to love here. Hub mode sounded like it would make it easy to share apps between profiles, while guest accounts were supposed to get a list of accessible apps ready from the jump. And then there was a new kids mode that brought back an old-school nav bar.

We'll have to wait to see what all this adds up to, but it's too many puzzle pieces not to be part of a larger picture that might be preparations for Android 14.

Get Android 13 for your phone

Android 13 is available now, so you won't have to wait too long until it reaches your Pixel phone. Even if you don't have a Pixel, manufacturers have become better at keeping up with Google's releases, so check when your phone will get Android 13.

Google Pixel 7 Pro

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