Among the unveiling of the new Pixel devices, such as the Pixel 7, Pixel 6a, and Pixel Buds Pro, Google also showcased the next generation of the mobile operating system that will power those devices at the I/O developer’s conference – Android 13.
Google has stated that the new OS has a much deeper focus on privacy, security, and personalization and has a hoard of new applications and features that reflect the same.
Google is keen on building an ecosystem of its own, which could take on Apple’s ecosystem. The tech giant believes that for that to happen, Android 13 will have to play a pivotal role by building a more connected space for all Android-based devices. The company revealed that the number of activations of Android phones exceeded 1 billion in the last year, with over 3 billion monthly active Android devices. This, coupled with the fact that several popular smartphone manufacturers promise four years of continuous updates, means that Google will now have to support a wide array of devices and tablets. Security, privacy, and customisability become a massive issue in such a scenario.
We look at some of the features that we will see in Android 13.
A Revamped Google Wallet
Users will now be able to store digital versions of documents, including debit or credit cards, vaccine records, government-issued documents, and even digital car keys if the car in question uses a sensor-based key. Google Wallet was first introduced in 2011, but it failed to take off. Google now believes with a broader and better array of support and features; it will be more viable in 2022. For this, Google intends to integrate Google Wallet and other apps for faster and more seamless transactions.
RCS or Rich Communication Service chat is a system that brings a wide range of features to a standard SMS. Think of it like iMessage or WhatsApp, but operated through the SMS or Chat app. This brings a wide range of features to SMS, including support for photos, messaging over WiFi, group messaging, and typing indicators (to let you know when someone is typing). Google is also working on end-to-end encryption for group messages and expects to roll it out by year-end. It already provides encryption for one-on-one conversations.
Google is going big with customization and personalization. One of the most significant new features is the support of multiple languages that allow users to use one app in one language and a different app in a foreign language. Users now will have to opt-in for app notifications. This means apps do not have the permission to show notifications by default, and users can only select the apps they want to see messages from. Until now, users had to disable notifications from apps they felt were intrusive.
There are several other little tweaks as well. Apps, for example, can now incorporate the color from the theme or the wallpaper you have chosen. Furthermore, the media tool kit now changes its appearance depending on the music you’re listening to.
Google also announced ELS, or Emergency Location Services, which helps emergency workers quickly locate a user after sending an SOS alert. The emergency feature included in Android 12 will now be extended to WearOS with Android 13.
Google has also tested and launched an early earthquake warning feature in 25 countries. The tech giant will now launch this feature in other high-risk countries. The system works by using a device’s accelerometer to detect if there’s an earthquake taking place. It then shares the information across the region before shockwaves reach other areas.
The final version of Android 13 will start rolling out later this year.