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Android 13 first developer preview arrives with better privacy controls and more theming options

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What just happened? Google has launched the first developer preview of Android 13, codename Tiramisu, with a couple of new highlights and changes around privacy, security, usability and aesthetics. With Android 13, Google says it’s also working towards providing more core system updates through Google Play as part of Project Mainline and has included opt-in behavior changes for app developers for better optimization on Android 13 supported devices.

Features like per-app language preferences were already expected to be part of Android 13, and now the announcement of Google’s first developer preview has revealed more under-the-hood and visible changes coming to the OS.

The main highlights of this release start off with a new system photo picker designed around user privacy. Like Android’s document picker, this new feature will let the user decide which photos and videos can be accessed by an app while sharing content, instead of the app requiring permission to access all stored media on the device.

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Project Mainline will let this photo picker trickle down to Android 11 devices

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

Google is also building upon Android 12’s Material You aesthetic by adding themed icon support for all apps. Developers will need to provide a monochromatic icon of their app, alongside a tweak to their adaptive icon’s XML. Themed icons will initially work only on Pixel phones, with more devices expected to follow soon.

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Developers have been asked to check out several opt-in behavior changes included in this iteration, as well as guides for optimizing their apps for large screen devices like tablets, foldables and Chromebooks.

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

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