It’s too early to say what kind of impact Android 13 will actually have.
Experts say that the developer preview of Android 13 is hardly considered an iterative upgrade due to the size of the Android 12 update. They added that it’s too early to say what exactly the new OS has to make it a solid improvement for Google.
Google released the developer preview of Android 13 for Pixel phones on February 10, and as most would expect, there weren’t many new introductions to the user-facing changes. From what we can see so far, Android 13, which will be on the best Android phones in the future, is focusing on privacy, security, and developer productivity.
Recently, XDA Developers wrote that Android 13 could be “an iterative upgrade that solidifies the road ahead.” The author of the article, Adam Conway, pointed out in the article that the design of Android 12 “is not necessarily a design that resonates with everyone”, and from what we have seen so far, this is a “very marginal iterative improvement”, Android 13 “solidifies the direction of the design.”
Esper’s senior technical editor and former editor-in-chief of XDA Developers Mishaal Rahman agrees that Android 13 may be an iterative update to Android 12 in terms of design, as Google doesn’t overhaul its Material Design language every year. However, he warns that this Don’t call the entire Android 13 release an “iterative upgrade.” “
He pointed out that almost every Android update can be considered an iterative update to the previous version in essence, so “the term itself doesn’t make much sense.”
“Android 13 iterates on Android 12, iterates on Android 11, iterates on Android 10, etc. Development on Android never ends, so all features that aren’t ready in time for the next public release Android Versions will be deferred to future versions,” he said.
Rahman explained that Google does plan what features they want to have in a particular release.
For example, Google explicitly plans to roll out Material You in Android 12 along with most of the UI changes and features associated with it, such as dynamic colors.
Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Worldwide Device Trackers, agrees, noting that it’s too early to tell if Android 13 is really an iterative update “because Google hasn’t shown the OS in detail.”
He added that even a very small update isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Android 12 brings some major changes.
“[Android] 13 will provide further improvements and hopefully further adoption,” he said.
It’s worth adding here that in October 2021, Google released Android 12L, which, for all intents and purposes, was a special version of Android 12 made specifically for larger-screen devices like tablets and foldables.
Android experts might also add that the 12L is the most stable release of the 12 and happens to include a UI fork for foldables and tablets.
In this case, Android 13 is basically built from Android 12L. It’s also worth explaining that it’s been a while since Google released an interim version of its operating system. The last time this happened was on Android 8 and Android 7. This usually happens because Google may have the intention to release a specific feature, but has to delay it because they aren’t ready yet.
Rahman noted that since it’s an interim release, that’s probably why the 12L “doesn’t seem to bring a lot of new features.”
Anshel Sag, senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, agrees, saying the 12L is a welcome addition to the larger form factor.
“As Android starts to expand deeper into Windows and foldable form factors, it makes sense,” he said.
Why you shouldn’t download Android 13 (developer version)
It seems like an obvious statement that Google usually reserves the developer version of the OS exclusively for developers.
In this regard, Rahman said that Google did not actually make it easy for ordinary users to install the Developer Preview. Rahman explained that you have to install it manually, either by sideloading the appropriate OTA package via the recovery environment, or flashing the factory image package via the fastboot tool.
Rahman also noted that developers’ builds are often buggy.
“Google would definitely be interested in hearing about these bugs, but they and other device makers won’t provide them with direct support or immediate fixes. Likewise, app developers won’t prioritize support for users running Developer Preview builds; they will update Their apps go at their own pace,” he said.
In addition to this, Rahman added that many applications refuse to run or limit the available functionality of software builds that do not comply with the CTS (Compatibility Test Suite). This means that Android software must meet specific Android compatibility requirements.
“If you’re not a developer, you should definitely avoid installing the Android 13 developer preview. I personally didn’t install the developer preview on my personal phone, the Google Pixel 6 Pro. If you’re a regular user and have a spare phone or a There’s no harm in trying it out on a PC capable of running an Android emulator. However, if you’re going to install it on your everyday drive device, I’d caution you not to,” he said.
But more importantly, even regular users who want to give it a try and see what the new OS might have might find it buggy and difficult, Sag said.
“After trying Android 12 on the Pixel 5 in the early days, there were tons of bugs, very annoying to use as an everyday device, and I wouldn’t recommend it. I would definitely recommend it to developers who build apps and want to make sure everything works as new system, otherwise, I don’t recommend downloading it so early,” he said.
Ubrani noted that the current 13 release “is still in the baking phase, there is no user-friendly installation, and it is not very stable.”
Installing it today could do more harm than good to the average user, he said.
What does Android 13 need to be successful?
While the XDA article states that Android 13 sets the future for Android, it’s actually Android 12L that sets the future, Rahman said.
“Android 12L is marketed as a big OS update for larger-screen devices like tablets and foldables, but it just sets the stage for future updates. Android 13 needs to pick up where Android 12L left off, and provide a solid foundation for tablets More substantial changes to the PC experience. There’s evidence Google is doing this with “hub mode” and screen saver changes, but I’d like to hear directly from Google about what it’s planning to do with iPadOS ,”He said.
Ubrani agrees, noting that one standout change that looks like it could potentially be the Pixels’ ability to stream apps to a nearby Chromebook or PC.
“This will help Android compete with Apple in many ways,” he said.
He also added that adoption should increase, adding that Android’s biggest downside is “how quickly vendors and users are still adopting the latest version.” He said Google has been working on it for years, but anything the company can do to incentivize adoption will go a long way.
“This could include further dividing the OS, making development previews available earlier, or something else entirely, as long as it helps drive the installed base,” he said.