After the challenging rollout of Android 12, here’s what we’d like to see from the next Android release.
While Android 12 seems to be just here, Android 13 may be just a few weeks away from appearing in developer previews. For the past few years, the first preview builds of new Android versions have dropped around February or March. So even though Android 12L is still in development, it’s time to look ahead to Android 13 — the version that will finally power the best Android phones of 2023.
If the details dug up by code detectives are to be believed, a late 2022 release of Android could land as early as August. Since Google just overhauled its design language with Material You, it’s unlikely we’ll see many major visual changes in Android 13. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of new features to look forward to. Instead, with fewer development resources focused on the Android UI, Android 13 could be a feature-rich release. Early leaks have pointed to really useful features, such as per-app language settings.
We’re sure to learn more as Android 13 is around the corner, but before that, we’ve rounded up our top five hopes for the next OS release. So here’s what we’d like to see when the Android platform celebrates its 14th birthday.
1. Floating windows and better multitasking
Android phone and tablet makers like Samsung have offered floating window support in some form for more than five years. So it’s time for Android’s multitasking capabilities to evolve and give users more control over how they use apps. Based on the work already underway with Android 12L, the floating window feature makes a lot of sense on tablets and foldables. As it has done in the past, Google should borrow heavily from some of the best manufacturer skins. Oppo’s ColorOS has offered free-form floating windows for over a year, and the latest ColorOS 12 release manages to make this feature work comfortably and feel intuitive on regular-sized smartphones like the Find X2 and X3 series.
As split-screen multitasking becomes more popular on foldable phones, Google should try to make switching between pairs of apps faster and easier. As Samsung has offered for years, a way to pin a specific combination of apps to the taskbar (or similar shortcut bar) would make a lot of sense.
2. More customizable materials for you
Material You in Android 12 is a great start, but there’s more Google can do to help make your most personal computing device even more personal. System-wide support for icon packs is one of them — these are already supported by countless other manufacturers, but Google doesn’t support it directly in the stock OS. More than four months after the stable Android 12 release, the auto icon theme is currently in beta and has room for improvement. We’d love to see support for more icons, as well as an API that makes it easy for app developers to incorporate their branding into Material You themed icons.
More fine-grained control over the Material palette is also a welcome change. Right now, there are only a few dozen color palettes powered by Android 12 on Pixel phones, and many of them are pretty muted. Of course, choosing complementary colors isn’t as easy as picking them at random from a palette. Still, we think Google might offer more options when it comes to Android 13’s colors, and early leaks suggest that Google may be working on that.
3. Better Google Discover
The Google Discover feed (the news feed on the leftmost home screen panel on most Android phones) is underutilized. The space started life as Google Now about a decade ago, and used to present timely information cards based on your location, time of day, your calendar, and other factors. Now, though, that information has been split into other areas, like the Google Assistant’s snapshot screen and the Overview widget on Pixel phones.
An abandoned smart lockscreen prototype leaked by Android Authority recently leaked an example of how this premium smartphone asset can be put to better use. As an extension of “At a Glance,” these screens will be populated with things like smart home controls when you’re at home, or traffic and loyalty card details when you’re out and about.
There’s no reason it can’t be combined with content discovery and The best part of Snapshot, bringing back a really useful discovery feed for future Android 13 devices.
4. More desserts!
Google got rid of Android’s “sweet” nicknames in Android 10 — though internal codenames like “Queen Cake” (Android 10), “Red Velvet Cake” (Android 11) and “Snow Cone” (Android 12) ended up leaking online. (Android 13 is reportedly “tiramisu,” in case you were wondering.)
Sweet names make for an interesting Android version, and the dry-numbered version of Android 10 hasn’t quite matched. For the average hobbyist who doesn’t pay attention to the technical details of each new release, the dessert name and its associated Bugdroid mascot represent new platform releases.
There are several good reasons for Google to switch to a numbered release schedule for recent Android versions, especially to avoid confusion in non-English speaking regions. (More importantly, it will compete with Android V, W, X, Y, and Z in just a few short years.) But we still can’t help but hope that the release of Android 13 will formal Next to it is a robot statue holding the aforementioned spongy Italian dessert.
5. More stable at startup
The public beta of Android 12 was pretty rough compared to the regular Android version, and the public release came later than we expected. Especially on Google’s Pixel phones, it was rather buggy until the latest software update in January. This could be due to the plethora of changes introduced in Android 12 (the most widespread Android update in years) or the impact of Covid-19 on the development cycle, or even early problems with Google’s custom Tensor processors. Whatever the root cause, we’re hoping for a more stable day one release when Android 13 arrives.
Common problems with early Android 12 releases have had a knock-on effect on the wider ecosystem. Samsung’s One UI 4 inherited a Pixel glitch that interfered with background media playback in apps like YouTube. OnePlus had to cancel its update due to a display-stopping bug – although the brand acknowledged its own software challenges as it looked to integrate its OxygenOS platform into parent brand Oppo’s ColorOS system.
At least Google won’t overhaul Android’s system UI this time around, so we’re optimistic that Android 13 will be a more stable version.
Android 13: Coming soon!
Before we know it, Android 13 will be with us. In previous years, we’ve given us early developer previews of new Android versions in February or March, followed by more stable public betas in May or June, with final releases in early fall. In between, the tablet and foldable Android 12L arrives in late spring, and it’s sure to be a busy year for Android releases.
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