at Google I / O On Wednesday, we got a new and detailed look at Android 13. The new phone operating system It was announced back in February, but debuting this fall. It builds on the changes that came with Android 12 and offers more physical customizations, increased privacy and security tools, and more RCS messaging supportRevamped Google Wallet and better integration with Chromebooks, watches, TVs, cars, and smart home devices. The new software makes Android and Google’s massive software ecosystem more competitive with Apple’s broad suite of software and services. The proof is in numbers.
For the first time ever, Google has shared the number of Android phone activations, which in 2021 exceeded one billion devices. And there are more than 3 billion active Android devices per month according to Samir Samat, Vice President of Product Management for Android and Google Play.
These stats, combined with things like Samsung delivers four years of major Android OS updatesPut Google in a unique position. It should support a variety of old and new phones as well as tablets and foldables. Fortunately, Android 13 is proof that Google is ready and eager to keep its quintessential crown operating system customizable and up to date while giving Android phone owners a smoother experience across multiple devices. Some of the features that Google has highlighted are improvements to existing features or support for features in more countries.
Android 13 is currently in beta. for more information Check out the Google Android Beta site.
End-to-end encryption of RCS group conversations in Messages
Google has worked with carriers and phone manufacturers over the past several years to Introducing Rich Communication Services as a feature-rich alternative to SMS and MMS. This provides support for high-quality images, Wi-Fi messaging, a better group messaging experience, and typing indicators, which let you know when someone is typing. The app already supports end-to-end encryption for individual chats automatically, and support for encrypted group chats will be rolling out later this year.
Google notes that the RCS-powered Messages app — the default texting app on many Android phones — already has half a billion monthly active users on Android phones. While the RCS standard could eventually become universal, at present it is still not supported on iOS and other mobile operating systems.
Google Wallet and Wear OS
Google Wallet, which debuted in 2011, has received a number of updates and new functions. Google Wallet can store digital copies of your essential documents, including payment cards, transit cards, office badges, vaccine records, car keys, boarding passes, and student IDs. The idea is to provide a faster and safer alternative to physical cards. Google is working with US states and international governments to support digital IDs, something Apple Wallet started providing support in several US states in March.
Google Wallet will also let you share a digital card via NFC or a QR code, which can be a faster way to share card information rather than actually handing your phone over to the person checking it.
Google Wallet also supports integrations with other apps that you can subscribe to. For example, if you have a transit card in Google Wallet, your card and balance will automatically appear in Google Maps when you search for directions. This way, if your balance is low, you can add more money to the fare before you reach your stop or stop.
In terms of controlling your privacy, Google Wallet stores everything securely on your phone and does not share data with Google services.
Later this summer, more than 40 countries that currently use Google Pay will upgrade to Google Wallet. The exceptions are India, which will still use Google Pay, and the US and Singapore, which will own both Google Wallet and Google Pay. Any device running Android 5 (Lollipop) or Wear OS will support it.
Emergency SOS coming to Wear OS
When there is an emergency, our phones become even more important. As part of Android 12, Google launched an Emergency SOS service which allows you to get help, call a trusted person, and share your emergency information without unlocking your phone. Google is bringing Emergency SOS to Wear OS.
Emergency locator services, already built into Android, help first responders find you when you call for help. ELS is now available to more than a billion people around the world.
Earthquake early warnings via Android are already in place in 25 countries, and this year Google will launch them in more dangerous areas around the world. In places that do not have formal early warning systems, Android can crowdsource earthquake signals from phones. When the devices first detect waves caused by earthquakes, Google analyzes the data from the phones and sends an early alert to people in that area.
Android 12L and the future of tablets and foldable devices
Google says there are 275 million active users on large-screen devices such as tablets and foldable phones. in March , Android 12L launch To help developers design apps for these larger screens. Android 13 continues where 12L left off and brings better multitasking performance from the toolbar to split screen apps as well as support and improvements for more than 20 Google apps including YouTube Music, Google Maps and Google Messages.
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Among the most noticeable changes in Android 12 was Material You. Android basically adapts the way the home screen and app icons appear based on the colors in the background image. For Android 13, Google offers preset color combinations for those who want something a little different. You can choose the color scheme and it will apply across the entire operating system.
Themed icons will no longer be limited to system apps. There is now a toggle in Settings that lets you turn on themed icons for all apps on your home screen.
Media controls are also getting a boost from Material You. When you are listening to music, the player window will adopt the color of the album artwork. There is also a new waveform progress bar that moves with the sound.
Better privacy and security features
The app language settings now allow you to set different default languages for different apps. For example, your bank app can be set to English while your messaging app is in Hindi. Like the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro camerasThis is another example of Google being more inclusive and fair in its software and design.
Android Photo Picker adds a cool privacy feature that originated in iOS: you can select which photos and videos the app has access to. Instead of giving the app access to your entire photo library, you can choose specific photos for that specific app.
Android already notifies you when an app has accessed your copy and pasted it. But Android 13 goes further and automatically deletes your phone’s clipboard history after a short period of time.
Later this year, Google will add a unified security and privacy settings page that puts all the privacy and security of your phone’s data front and center. There will be a color-coded indicator showing the security status and providing instructions to make your phone more secure.
Android 13 works better with your other devices
Google says the average number of devices connected to a home in the US is 20. Earlier this year Google revealed its vision for how Android can work better With TV, cars, speakers and laptops. Android 13 will support quick pairing to set up new devices with your phone, automatic audio switching between devices for headphones, and copy-pasting between devices. It will also allow you to stream messages and other apps from your phone to your PC.
Chromecast will support more devices from companies like Bose, TCL, Sony, Vizio, and LG. It will also extend transmission capabilities to new products, such as Chromebooks and even your car.
Wear OS contains new apps from Spotify and Adidas. It will support step-by-step directions for cycling and walking using haptic feedback, like the Apple Watch.
The Google Play Store is getting a visual overhaul. The app looks cleaner. The store is easy to navigate and the apps are easy to find.
Big yearly Android update vs. smaller regular updates
Android 13 brings more functionality, security and privacy to your phone. And while annual major Android updates aren’t going anywhere, Google has made it clear that features like Google Wallet and RCS can potentially be updated as needed across devices. This could be especially useful for phones that may not be receiving Android 13, but will still get improvements from updates to the Wallet and Messages apps. I’m excited to try out Android 13 and see what the final release looks like later this year.
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