First beta of Android 13 available for developers
While the final Android 13 version is expected for the start of the 2022 school year, the schedule provides for its preview to be available to developers for two months. Focus on its contributions.
Google’s Android team today announced the availability of a developer preview of Android 13. This preview is a test phase for Android in order to continuously improve its operating system. “Developer Preview 1 is now available, with the latest features and changes to try with your applications. Install a system image and update tools to get started. During this phase, we want your feedback, so please let us know what you think,” Google says on its developer page. Note that this beta is compatible with Pixel 6 Pro, 6, 5a 5G, 5, 4a 5G, Pixel 4a, 4 XL and 4 terminals.
We can hope to see Android 13 in its final version by September 2022. (Credit: Android)
Privacy and security at the heart of the system
While the issue of security has become significant for many users, Android is positioning itself on this subject: “respect for privacy is at the heart of the principles of Android products”. In fact, Android 13 offers more controls to the user. “In today’s release, we’re introducing a photo picker that allows users to securely share photos and videos with apps, as well as a new WiFi permission to minimize the need for apps to have location permission”. In detail, it is a system photo picker – a standard and optimized way for users to securely share photos locally and in the cloud. Android’s long-standing document picker allows a user to specifically share any type of content with an app, without the app needing permission to view all media files on the device.
The firm said it intends to make this feature available to more Android users through Google Play updates for devices running Android 11 and above. Separately, Android 13 introduces nearby_wifi_devices, a runtime permission where apps request permission to discover and access devices on nearby WiFi networks without needing permission to access location services. This last point is especially useful for developers because Android is able to determine its position based on nearby WiFi access points.
The Photo Picker provides a consistent and secure way for users to allow apps to access specific photos and videos. (Credit: Android)
Developer productivity improvements
Android 13 also offers additional features and tools for developer productivity. For this purpose, this release offers a quick parameter placement API. These settings are a convenient way for users to change settings or perform quick actions without leaving an app’s content. This preview adds support for programmable RuntimeShader objects, whose behavior is defined using the Android Graphics Shading Language (AGSL). AGSL shares much of its syntax with GLSL, but works within Android’s renderer to customize rendering. The OS uses these shaders internally to implement ripple, blur, and scroll stretching effects, and thus make it possible to create similar advanced effects for any application.
OpenJDK 11 is also improved in the Android 13 release: the OS core libraries are refreshed to align with the OpenJDK 11 LTS release, with library updates and Java 11 programming language support for application and platform developers. These core library changes will be available on more smartphones and tablets through updates to the Google Play system, as part of an ART module update for those running at least Android 12.
A personalized display of icons
Google also announced that it is extending Material You dynamic color beyond home apps to all app icons, allowing users to choose icons that inherit their wallpaper tint and other themed preferences. All the app needs to provide is an icon and adaptive XML editing. Themed app icons are initially supported on Pixel devices and the company hopes to bring it to more devices eventually.
Android adapts to polyglots and improves reading
Some applications allow users to choose a different language than the system language, to meet the needs of multilingual users. These apps can now call a platform API to set or get the user’s preferred language, reducing boilerplate code and improving compatibility when setting the runtime language of the application. For wider compatibility, Android plans to add a similar API in an upcoming Jetpack library.
Another point discussed: the caesura. It makes text easier to read and helps make the user interface more responsive. In Android 13, hyphenation performance has been optimized by up to 200%, so developers can now enable it in TextViews with virtually no impact on rendering performance. To enable faster hyphenation, use fullFast or normalFast frequencies in setHyphenationFrequency().