Android 13 Developer Preview 2 is here, bringing with it a slew of changes for the next version of Android. Preview 2 is still a very early look at Android 13, and most of the big feature reveals for these Android previews come during Google I/O. The good news is that Google just set a date for this event: 11-12. May.
If you’re disappointed by Android 12L’s relatively benign tablet changes, the first thing to know is that Google is still working on tablet features. The latest Android 13 preview adds an app drawer button to the taskbar for easy access to all your apps from any screen. It’s a great addition and hopefully a sign of the future of the brand new taskbar added in Android 12L.
Next, it would be great if the Android taskbar worked more like a Windows or Mac taskbar. The Android taskbar shows the bottom row of home screen icons, and that’s it. Instead, you should see pinned apps on one side and recently opened apps on the other. Other operating systems work this way because it makes sense. Google officially calls this the “Taskbar”, so shouldn’t current tasks appear in it?
As usual, the notification panel is busy. Opt-in notifications are live, so every app now asks for notification permissions on first launch. As someone who never wants to hear a notification from 90 percent of apps, being able to preemptively ban most notifications is very satisfying.
Settings (and the power button) have been moved to the bottom of the quick settings panel, and there’s a new “active apps” tracker down there too. If you click on it, you can see everything that is running in the background. Google actually calls this “active apps” button the “Foreground Services (FGS) Task Manager”.
The special media notification introduced in Android 11 has been completely redesigned. Instead of showing the album art in a thumbnail, the art now covers the entire background of the notification. The media notification can no longer be reduced and is not always the size of two notifications. Removing the double-height notification and thumbnail leaves a lot more room for controls, and you now see a lot more text, a search bar, and previous and next buttons.
One problem with the media player is that some music apps don’t pass high-resolution images to the media notification. The apps expect the graphic to be displayed in a tiny thumbnail, so it’s low resolution. File bloat to a full-width background image usually looks awful.
One of the coolest new features for split-screen addicts is the ability to drag an app from the notification panel into split-screen mode. Just long press on a notification and slide your finger around. The notification panel will collapse and split-screen mode will be activated. The only problem is that you can’t perform this action with the media player yet, because it throws weird custom system notifications.
Google has something wild planned for Android’s most-ignored screensaver feature. Amazon Fire tablets can be plugged into a charging station and become an Alexa smart display, and it looks like Google is planning to do something similar with the Google Assistant. The feature isn’t live yet, but Esper’s Mishaal Rahman has spotted code for “complications” that can run in screensaver mode. You can display information like weather, air quality, date and time, which sounds a lot like a smart display feature.
Android 13 has already made some visible improvements to the screensaver settings, e.g. B. New options to show a rainbow animation or photos from Google Photos. Elsewhere in Settings, Google made the sensible decision to combine the “Display Size” and “Font Size” screens, since both affect how big everything is. You can now manage everything from a single screen, and there’s a big reset button at the bottom if you screw up.
Finally, we have two new Quick Settings buttons: a QR code reader that finally eliminates the need for a third-party app, and a new Security & Privacy tile that bundles the microphone, camera access, and location kill switch in a single button. Google shows those three tiny buttons in a giant full-screen popup, which hopefully is just evidence of some early alpha clumsiness.