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6 Cool Android 13 features Google unveiled at I/O

Google has given us an update on the new features coming to Android 13, which is set to launch later in 2022.

During the Google I/O keynote address, the mobile giant announced plenty of forthcoming features that’ll debut on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro models previewed today and, eventually, the Pixel 6a and all of the best Android phones.

They include a new Wallet app, a revamped media bar, and improved language tools for the bilingual users. The company also gave us a closer look at the ‘Android 13L’ operating system designed for large screens and tablets like the forthcoming Pixel Tablet Google itself is working on for 2023. The company is also going farther with its Material You theme with new app icons to match your chosen colour scheme.

Here are the coolest new features Google have announced for Android 13. Some of these we’ve seen before in beta deep dives, but this is the first time we’re hearing about them from the horse’s mouth.

Coloured Icons Android 13

New Media Bar

Google previewed a brand new media bar for the Android home screen, which conforms to the Material You theme, while it will also dynamically adapt to match the music you listen to. There’s also a new track progress bar which “grooves to the beat,” Google says.

New Media Controls Android 13

Per-app language selection

Google is adding a new feature for multi-lingual features, enabling them to set the default language on a per-app basis. So, for something frivolous like your social media account, you might choose to use the language you’re learning. For something that actuality requires you to be more accurate, like your banking app, you may opt to consume it in your native tongue.

New Google Wallet app

Google is again revamping its digital wallet experience with a new Wallet app that houses all your cards, tickets, keys and all that jazz. It’s not an Android 13 feature, per se, and is rolling out soon for all users.

The company says hotel keys and office badges will be accessible from your Android phone. Google is also following Apple’s lead and incorporating your photo ID. The company says it is working with state and national governments on adding driver’s licenses in to the Wallet app, while student IDs and more will follow. That information can be shared via NFC or a QR code without handing over your phone, Google says.

New Tablet apps

Google spent a lot of time at I/O talking about its big screen enhancements for tablets running Android 13. That version of the OS will probably be called Android 13L and will carry over the split screen interface from Android 12L, as well as the enhanced notification shade and persistent dock and taskbar – which is there when you need it and gone when you don’t. The stakes just rose on that front considering the company just announced it is working on a Pixel tablet for 2023.

20 optimised Android tablet apps

Android 13 will give us more than 20 stock apps, enhanced to look better on large-screen devices. They include YouTube Music (which puts artists front and centre), Messages (multi-column view), and Maps (faster access to pertinent information).

Third-party apps like TikTok, Zoom and Facebook are also working on enhanced Android tablet apps and a Google Play store upgrade will make it easier to discover apps that are designed for tablets. Indeed, Google Play is one of the stock apps getting a revamp for the larger screen.

Better together

Google also announced a bunch of fresh inter-device connectivity tools, which has ramifications for Android. For example, users will quickly be able to share images, screenshots, URLs and more, from a smartphone to a tablet, for example, in Android 13.

Fast Pair is also being expanded so all of your devices can easily pair with your phone, tablet, laptop, TV, smartwatch and other smart devices.

New media privacy tools

We knew from Android 13 beta versions that the new OS would give users more granular controls over their media, and now Google has fleshed that out.

In a blog post detailing the new feature, Google said there’ll be distinct permissions for photos/video and music/audio. There’s also an iOS-like photo picker that enables users to select which images an app like Instagram has access to, rather than serving up your entire photo library.

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