Android 13 arrives for Pixel phones

This year’s major Android update, Android 13, will be officially released today for Google’s Pixel phones, the search giant has announced. The annual update is getting an official release a little earlier than usual, after the release of Android 12 last October and the release of Android 11 in September 2020.

The list of updates arriving with this year’s Android version will probably sound familiar to you if you’ve been keeping up with the beta versions of Android 13. There’s the ability to match non-Google app icons to your home screen background that we saw in the first Android 13 developer preview, a new permission to reduce spam notifications, and a new option to restrict which of your photos and videos an app can access.

Android wallpaper themed apps.
Image: Google

A new permission to allow apps to send notifications.
Image: Google

In January, we wrote that Google was planning to catch up with Apple’s ecosystem integrations this year, and there’s more evidence of this in the official release of Android 13. The update includes support for spatial audio with head-tracking, which is designed to make sounds appear as if they are coming from a fixed point in space when you move your head while wearing compatible headphones, similar to a feature Apple offers for its AirPods. Today’s post doesn’t say exactly which headphones this will work with, but Google previously announced it would update its Pixel Buds Pro to include support for spatial audio.

Second, there’s the ability to stream messages from apps, including Google Messages, directly to a Chromebook, similar to iMessage on the Mac. It’s another feature Google described in January. In addition to its own Messages app, one of Google’s promotional tools shows it will work with its Signal messaging app, and the company says the feature will work with “many of your other favorite messaging apps.” The update also includes a feature that allows you to copy content from an Android phone to paste on an Android tablet and vice versa.

The ability to set languages ​​per app is another Android 13 feature.
Image: Google

A message from the Signal app is passed from an Android phone to a Chromebook.
Image: Google

Other Android 13 features include the ability to set languages ​​per app, a redesigned media player that customizes its appearance based on what you’re listening to, support for Bluetooth Low Energy for better sound quality at lower bitrates and reduced latency, improved multitasking on large screen devices with drag and drop support for multitasking, and better palm rejection when using styluses.

Google’s announcement doesn’t specify exactly which Pixel devices will receive the Android 13 update today, but beta versions of the software are available for everything from the Pixel 4 to the recently released Pixel 6A. The Android update is coming to devices from other manufacturers later this year, including Samsung, Oppo, OnePlus, HMD, Motorola, Realme, Sony, Xiaomi and Asus, writes Google’s Sameer Samat in today’s announcement post. Check out Google’s post to learn more about the changes arriving in the update.

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