The first Android 13 developer preview comes with improved privacy controls and more theme options.

What just happened? Google has launched the first developer preview of Android 13, codenamed Tiramisu, with several new features and changes around privacy, security, usability, and aesthetics. Google says that with Android 13 it is also working to provide more major system updates through Google Play as part of the Project Mainline and has included app developer behavior changes to better optimize on Android 13 enabled devices.

Features such as per-app language settings were expected to be part of Android 13, and now announcement from the first Google Developer Preview revealed more hidden and visible changes coming to the OS.

Key features of this release start with a new system-wide photo picker designed with user privacy in mind. Similar to Android’s document picker, this new feature will allow the user to decide which photos and videos an app can access when sharing content, instead of the app needing permission to access all of the media stored on the device.

Project Mainline will let this photo picker make its way to Android 11 devices

Another privacy-focused feature is a new permission for apps to allow them to discover and connect to nearby devices over Wi-Fi without requiring location permission. There’s also a new API that allows developers to add their app’s custom tiles to the Quick Settings section of the system dialog notification bar. This approach is intended to improve usability by allowing the user to add a tile in one step without leaving the app, instead of having to do the same with multiple taps by explicitly going to Quick Settings.

Google is also building on the Material You aesthetic in Android 12 by adding themed icon support for all apps. Developers will need to provide a monochrome icon for their application, as well as customize the XML of their adaptive icon. Initially, themed icons will only work on Pixel phones, with other devices expected to follow soon.

Developers were asked to check several changes in behavior included in this iteration, as well as guides to optimizing their apps for big screen devices for example, tablets, foldable devices, and Chromebooks.

The first developer preview of Android 13 can now be flashed on Google Pixel 4 and newer models, with associated risks and bugs. The platform is expected to release betas in late March/early April and reach stability by June/July before an official release later in the year.

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