Android 13 finally arrived this week, somehow both earlier and later than expected. For such a minor upgrade compared to last year’s massive Material You overhaul, it’s easy to be disappointed. As the update makes its way to more users — both on Pixel phones and when companies like Samsung launch their own updates in the coming weeks — we’ll no doubt see many first impressions shared online. If you just can’t wait, I think this weekend is the perfect time to ditch some Android 13 hottakes.
On the one hand, Android 12 felt unfinished at times, and Google’s decision to focus on some much-needed improvements to the features it introduced a year ago is probably the right one. Material You is closer than ever to the auto-themed engine we’d all expected, though third-party icon support remains an issue. Google has combined its search bars on Pixels to lead to the same UI – an obvious solution, though one that doesn’t work well in this week’s first stable release. And that’s on top of plenty of privacy tools designed to make Android more secure than ever.
The handful of visible new features here are also great. I’m obsessed with the new media player; its squiggly line dances across my lock screen or notification tray whenever I listen to something on my phone. Opt-in notifications have been a long time coming and I’m glad to finally see them here. And while I won’t be making much use of Google’s new per-app language settings – apologies to my many French teachers – it’s a great tool for anyone who speaks more than one language.
That said, it’s easy to be disappointed with Android 13. As I mentioned in this week’s podcast, I think Google has done a great job of migrating the features that matter most to channels beyond an annual launch. By relying on app and service updates, the company ensures that more Android users than ever before get the tools they need without having to wait for the Samsungs and OnePluses of the world to roll out new software. However, it comes at the cost of Android 13 feeling a little less special – if we spend an entire year doing a radical new OS redesign, Google can really only make the kind of privacy and security changes we’ve seen this year.
So with that, I open the word for our readers. In addition to a poll this week, I’d like to know what everyone thinks about Android 13 — and, perhaps a little more broadly, about Android as an operating system. Are you happy with the changes Google has made this year, no matter how small they seem on the outside? Are you concerned about the possible stagnation of the platform, especially as it has matured in recent years? Maybe you never warmed to Material You and the additional color choices in Android 13 didn’t affect your opinion. There are no wrong answers this week – in fact, there are no preset answers at all. Let us know if you already have the update, and mute the sound below.
Our Android 13 review has already seen a deluge of comments, comments, and opinions, but with the floor fully open, I’m excited to see what our readership thinks. Even if you’re waiting for an OEM to roll out a software update on your device, feel free to drop in with early impressions from the past eight months of leaks, developer previews, and betas. And if you’re rocking a Pixel phone with Google’s latest software, even better. The comments are open, AP readers – let’s see what you think.
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