First Android 13 developer preview rolls out

Google has rolled out the first developer preview of its next major smartphone software release — Android 13.

The preview is now available on select Pixel devices, including the Pixel 4, Pixel 5, and Pixel 6 series.

Among the new features available are themed app icons.

These allow users to tint Android Launcher app icons to inherit the colouring of the user’s chosen wallpaper and other themes.

The GIF below illustrates what this feature looks like.

A new Quick Settings API will also allow users to pin certain app features from within a particular app instead of adding them via the Quick Settings panel.

In terms of accessibility, Google is introducing per-app language preferences, which let users set different languages for each app.

In addition, there are several improvements to the operating system’s privacy protections.

The photo picker feature will let users choose the photos and videos in their gallery that they want an app to access, instead of allowing access to their entire collection.

Google is also rolling out new runtime permissions for apps that need to access nearby Wi-Fi connections.

That means unless an app requires a user’s physical location, these apps will no longer ask for location permission but will still be able to pick up nearby Wi-Fi networks.

Animations galore

Lastly, Google gives developers access to programmable RuntimeShader objects, with behaviour defined using the Android Graphics Shading Language (AGSL).

“AGSL shares much of its syntax with GLSL, but works within the Android rendering engine to customize painting within Android’s canvas as well as filtering of View content.”

Android internally used these shaders to implement ripple effects, blur, and stretch overscroll.

Now, third-party app developers will be able to create similar advanced effects for their apps.

For the few South Africans that might have a Pixel device on hand, Google provides instructions on downloading the Android 13 Developer Preview on this page.

Now read: New Samsung smartphones will get four years of Android updates

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First Android 13 developer preview rolls out