Brace yourself, my android-loving animal friend: you’re about to experience a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. Ready?

First things first: Google Just started the first official beta of this fall’s Android 13 update! If you have a recent Pixel phone, this means you can download it onto your device this second and check out the latest and greatest things Google has prepared for our future. (yeah!)

Now for the twist: Different most Android betas, this first beta version of Android 13 does not yet have most of the key features of the software. It mainly focuses on basic elements and improvements under the hood, and externally it’s pretty damn similar to the previous previews. In all honesty, it’s almost more like another developer preview than a beta — at least in typical Android terms. (Oh…)

When you step back and think about it, it probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Google’s colossal I/O developer conference is now just two weeks away, and that’s when Le Googlé traditionally unveils its most eye-catching new Android enhancements. The Android 13 development process started earlier than usual this year, so we have technically has reached this beta milestone earlier than usual – but the big reveal is still ahead of us by all accounts.

But wait! Do not get to disappointed. Thanks to the way Android was built, it’s possible to peek inside Google’s Android 13 code and get a glimpse of some still under wraps assets that are actively being developed. There’s no guarantee, of course, that all of this stuff will make it into the final software exactly as it is – and it’s always possible that Google has more surprises in store that we haven’t heard of.

But taken together, these clues paint a pretty cohesive picture of what Android 13 is most likely to become. And despite the fact that this week’s beta doesn’t give us many tangible new details, it does offer a tantalizing preview of what’s almost certainly coming around the corner.

Here are three big (and mostly hidden!) reasons to be excited.

1. Android 13 will set the stage for a better big-screen experience

After years of neglect and basically Waiver of the Android tablet formGoogle is refocusing on Android computing on big screens in a big way with Android 13.

All signs point to the release of Android 13 building on the big screen optimizations introduced in the awkwardly named (and barely launched) version. Android 12L in-between “Feature Drop” Google worked right after launching Android 12 last fall. And from traditional tablets to expandable foldable phones, the arrival of Android 13 should usher in some incredibly remarkable new options.

Android 13, in particular, will finally start tweaking the core Android interface for larger screen experiences — err, again. (Google has this briefly in the Android Honeycomb era from 2011, as the longtime Android nerds among us will remember, but then gave up that notion a few short years later. hey what can we say Once in a while, Google just has to be Google.)

That means if you’re using a tablet or an unfolded foldable phone running Android 13, you’ll see different elements on different halves of the screen and get access to some powerful desktop-like multitasking tools – including a clearly Chrome OS inspired new taskbar that lets you access your favorite apps from anywhere and even drag them up to create an on-the-fly split-screen setup.

Android 13 multitasking Google

Some of these concepts first appeared in that Android 12L update that we mentioned a minute ago, but this Android version has not been rolled out on devices where they are relevant. Android 13 continues to refine the elements and will be the first time anyone has truly experienced them in the real world.

Speaking of pills…

2. Android 13 will essentially create a whole new category of devices

Aside from the fundamental UI improvements, Android 13 is poised to introduce some new tablet-specific features that could change the meaning of the term “tablet” in our minds.

As spotted by discerning sleuths over at Esper’sAndroid 13 code contains a lot of material related to a new “hub mode” for big screen devices. This new feature appears to make it possible to treat tablets as shared devices when docked – with access to a specific set of selected “community apps” in that context – and then have multiple users pick up the tablets and sign in to their own leave profiles.

As part of this, Android 13 introduces a freshly revamped user interface for Android Long underestimated multi-user support system. And it includes a souped-up screensaver system that lets you add widget-like “complications” to a device’s idle-time display to make it more information-rich and useful.

Together, these elements create a whole new type of use case for Android tablets – one that’s easy to spot and opens many interesting doors in both the home, office, and other business environments. No wonder Google is so confident Android tablets and Chrome OS tablets can coexist harmoniously and address very different needs.

3. Android 13 makes notifications even smarter

Android’s notifications have always been one of the platform’s strengths and advantages over, um, that Miscellaneous Smartphone ecosystem, but Google isn’t resting on its laurels – and with Android 13, the company is gearing up to pack a powerful extra punch into the Android notifications arena.

First, the early builds of Android 13 already include a nifty new system where you can touch and hold any notification, then drag and drop it to either side of your screen for an instant split-screen between the associated app and whatever to create different You have already seen. You would never know it was there unless you just tried this action, but it absolutely works.

Especially when combined with the taskbar drag-up option we just talked about, this brings Android’s long-buried and neglected split-screen feature back to the fore and makes it feel like a native part of the core interface, instead of a cumbersome stapled one. in retrospect. It makes notifications even more useful and interactive. And it could make split screen something that many of us actually use.

Additionally, Android 13 introduces a new notifications permission that requires all apps to ask you for permission to send notifications before they can do so (at least in theory; so far I’ve only seen them on newly installed apps). on this first beta). That means that by default, no app is allowed to notify you unless you specifically tell it to want to receive his notifications. Reasonable, no?

Android 13 notifications JR

It’s a subtle but significant shift that brings the power in our hands and should greatly reduce unnecessary notification noise.

And remember: all of this is just scratching the surface. The full picture of Android 13 likely won’t become clear until Google’s I/O conference begins on May 11 — and even then, the company could potentially have some surprises in store for later in the year, closer to the final Android 13 launch .

However, based on what we’re seeing so far, there are plenty of reasons to be excited – and plenty of reasons to keep a close eye on what’s next in the coming weeks and months.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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