Android 13 is available is the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system (internally codenamed Tiramisu for all you dessert lovers out there), and as usual, it brings a slew of new features and updates to Android phones and tablets. We’ve been playing with it for a few months, and it’s more of an evolution than a revolution compared to Android 12. Don’t expect groundbreaking changes.
It is now available for select Android phones and will continue in the coming months. We’ve collected many of the best new features here and have instructions on how to download them yourself.
How to download Android 13
If you have a Google Pixel phone (Pixel 4 and Pixel 4A and newer), you can download Android 13 now. Just go to Settings > System > System Update and click Check for updates.
Other Android devices such as Samsung, Asus, HMD (Nokia phones), iQOO, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Tecno, Vivo and Xiaomi can expect the update later this year. If you can’t wait, it’s worth noting that some of these devices are eligible for the Android 13 Beta program (Google has a list of manufacturers here, including Samsung). If your device is supported, you can sign up for the beta program at this link.
After signing up, you can download and install the latest beta version as an over-the-air (OTA) update, but be careful: beta versions can be unstable and buggy. Before registering, we strongly recommend that you back up your Android phone, otherwise there is a real risk of losing valuable data.
Updates should pop up automatically, but you can always check if you have the latest version by following the link Settings > system > System update and pressing Check for updates. Want to get out of the beta and go back to Android 12? Go to Google’s Android Beta page, scroll down to find your device, and tap Refuse. This will erase all locally stored data, so make sure you back up your device. You will be prompted to upgrade so you can revert to an older version.
If you don’t have a Pixel or a device in the Beta program, check the manufacturer’s website, forums, or social media to see when you can expect Android 13.
The best new features of Android 13
We’ve highlighted our 13 favorite features and improvements in the latest version, but there are plenty more small updates. You can dig deeper on Google’s developer site.
Even more settings
Building on Google’s Material You concept for deeper personalization, Android 13 supports more colors in theme options. Currently you can choose between four wallpaper colors and four main colors, but in Android 13 there are 16. Just tap and hold an empty part of the home screen or go to Settings and choose Wallpaper and style to find new color theme options. If you enable Theme icons, now you should see more of these too. (Google is encouraging more developers to create these, so it’s not just Google and system app icons.)
Improved copy and paste
When you copy something in Android 13, a small floating bar appears at the bottom of the screen and you can tap to edit the content. Sometimes you’ll see matching options. For example, if you copy a URL, you will be able to open it in a browser. You can also copy to one Android device and paste to another nearby (as long as you’re signed in to the same Gmail account), so you don’t have to email yourself from your phone to your tablet anymore. Your clipboard history will now be automatically cleared after some time (perhaps an hour) to preserve your privacy.
Android 13 has several improvements that limit the access of your apps. First, when a program requests permission to access media files, they will be classified as images, videos, or audio files. With the new photo picker, you don’t have to share all your photos. You can control which photos and videos the app can access, rather than letting it dive into your entire photo library (a feature available on iPhones with iOS 14).
Until now, enabling an app to find nearby Wi-Fi devices meant giving it permission to track your location. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case because there’s now a separate option to allow nearby Wi-Fi devices. Privacy Dashboard (access via Settings > Privacy > Privacy Dashboard), which displays all apps that have accessed your camera, microphone, location, and other permissions in the past 24 hours, can now show a history of the past seven days.
When you install an app from Android, it has permission to send you notifications by default. Android 13 turns that on its head. From now on, apps must ask for permission before they start sending you notifications.
Better tablet support
Since Google is finally getting serious about tablets, Android 13 has a few changes that will make life easier with larger screens. On an Android tablet or feature phone, you can now see a taskbar with frequently used apps at the bottom (you can hide it), a two-column layout for quick settings and notifications, and easier drag-and-drop multitasking with an option to pin app pairs to the menu “Latest Programs”. There’s also support for Wear OS smartwatches to automatically unlock tablets, and support for audio switching, which means your wireless headphones will switch from your phone to your tablet when you start playing a movie on your tablet. Google is rolling out updates for more than 20 Google apps with redesigned interfaces that take advantage of the larger screen size, including YouTube Music and Google Maps (Android 13 not required).