After months of testing, Google has finally released Android 13, its latest Android smartphone update for 2022. As far as updates go, you won’t notice. I used Android 13 for about two months prior to its release and it was quite an overwhelming experience.
Unlike iOS 16, which is a big and massive update, Android 13 is more mundane. It doesn’t look much different from previous versions of Android, either visually or functionally. A lot of what sets Google apart from Apple on this front is that Apple preloads all of its significant app improvements into its major iOS releases. Google is rolling out its features as soon as they’re ready, so many features announced with Android 13 – like a revamped Google Wallet and tablet-optimized apps – have already landed. Because of this, Android 13 is a no-fuss update.
The result is an update that isn’t too flashy or superfluous. But considering how good Android 12 was, the decision to focus on refinement rather than another overhaul was the right choice.
If iOS 16 changes the way your iPhone works a lot, Android 13 is far more subtle. Take Material You, which debuts in Android 12. This update has revamped the way you use your Android phone and improved its customizability. It gave Android, for the first time, a strong sense of being designed rather than engineered. You would get colorful themes flowing into Google’s apps and pulled from your wallpaper, giving your phone an extra layer of personalization.
Google improved this in a few key ways in Android 13. You get a much wider range of color options, with some colors now being richer and more colorful and others being more pastel. It adds variety to Material You’s colors, although you’re still unlikely to see it in your apps of choice. Speaking of apps of choice, Material You also works with more app icons.
Remember it thematic symbols Feature Google introduced with Android 12? It wasn’t very useful as it was only supported by Google’s apps, but now the company is removing that artificial limitation. More and more apps can now use themed icons. Big-name apps have jumped in, including Meta’s WhatsApp, Reddit, and Pocket. That’s a good sign. Perhaps apps like Spotify and Messenger will follow, giving Android 13 owners more flexibility in icon design.
There’s also a redesigned music player in the notification center, adding a splash of color and an editable clipboard to it – and that’s about it for general user-centric features. there are more android 13 features and them are useful, but they are also special features aimed at a specific audience.
Google now allows multiple language support in apps, separating your main Android language from the languages used by select apps. Here’s how you can set up your Android phone in French while your banking app is in Spanish, for example. Or you can choose to use Telegram in Russian and WhatsApp in Italian, to use just another example. If you are multilingual or live in a multilingual country, you can quickly see the value. If you’re not, you can probably still see the value of it, but you probably won’t appreciate it.
The same goes for both advanced Chromebook integration and tablet updates. With Android 13, Google is getting better at working with your Chrome OS device. You can stream messaging apps to Chromebooks through an extension of the Phone Hub feature. This is in addition to supported services, including faster photo sharing, an AirDrop-like near-sharing feature, and more. If you’re one of the relatively few people with a Chromebook, this could come in handy immensely. If you aren’t, well, the same applies.
Android 13 is a fairly competent update. It goes around the system, fixing things that work, tightening things that needed fixing and adding new features that have been requested by fans, but it’s not revolutionizing the way you use your phone. Unlike Android 12, once you download it, you’ll quickly forget you’re using a new operating system.
Whether that’s good or bad is up to you. Android is mature – and that’s the best part. Android 12 took the operating system in a bold new direction. Android 13 keeps almost all of these choices and focuses on refining them to make them the best they can be. Android 13 is not an exciting update, but a good one? Absolutely.
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