Google's mobile operating system is evolving again.
On Thursday, Google released the first developer preview for Android 13. The "developer preview" bit means this release is primarily aimed for developers and not intended for daily use, but it's our first real look into some of the new features in Android 13.
Perhaps the most noticeable, especially for people who like to tinker with their phone's visuals, will be the themed app icons. Until now, only Google's own apps would get the dynamic coloring depending on the wallpaper/theme you used. But in Android 13, this will extend to all icons. To make this work, developers will have to tweak their icons a little, so don't expect every single icon to be "themeable" right from the get go. Google says that themed app icons are initially coming to Pixel devices, and will roll out to devices from other manufacturers later.
Another cool new feature is a new API that will let developers set a separate language in their apps. This will be useful for multilingual users, who will be able to set one language as their main phone language, and specify a different language in certain apps.
On the privacy front, Google now has a new system photo picker that allows for more granular privacy controls. It looks similar to the photo picker for sharing photos with someone: You'll be able to select photos and videos on your phone which will give an app access to those photos and videos alone.
When Android 12 launched in 2021, things weren't so great on the stability front. For Android 13, Google says it plans to reach its Platform Stability milestone in June 2022, which should give developers "several weeks" to perform testing before the final release is out. Check out Google's release timeline for Android 13 here.
While the above features certainly sound nice, do note that the final, available-to-all version of Android 13 is not likely to drop before late summer/fall of 2022. Consumers will have a chance to try out the first Android 13 beta well ahead of that, probably in late March or early April.