Latest version of the mobile OS allows app icons to tap into theme preferences and introduces more granular security and privacy features.

google, android
Credit: Dreamstime

Android 13, the latest version of Google’s popular mobile OS, has arrived, with new features for developers such as themed app icons, per-app language preferences, and better text support. The release also brings new privacy and security capabilities.

Source code for Android 13 was pushed to the Android Open Source Project on August 15.

Android 13 extends Material You dynamic colour to all app icons, giving users the ability to opt into icons that inherit the tint of their wallpaper and other theme preferences. For apps to the support this capability, developers need to supply a monochromatic app icon and a tweak to the adaptive icon XML.

Also in Android 13, text and language improvements have been made to enable a more polished experience, with features such as faster hyphenation, improved line heights for non-latin scripts, and improved text wrapping for Japanese. New text conversion APIs speed up searching and autocompletion when using phonetic lettering input for languages such as Chinese and Japanese.

Other new capabilities and improvements in Android 13 include news that core libraries now align with the OpenJDK 11 LTS release of Java and new APIs let an app tell the system how it will handle back gesture/button events in advance, a practice called the “ahead-of-time” model. The predictive back gesture will enable previews that allow users to avoid unexpected behaviours, such as suddenly closing an app.

Meanwhile, a system photo picker gives users a standard, privacy-protecting mechanism for sharing local and cloud-based photos. APIs are included for apps to access shared media files.

New granular media permissions provide access to specific types of media files, including images, video, or audio — these replace the READ EXTERNAL STORAGE permission.

Updates to the ART runtime improve performance and efficiency for all apps and garbage collection will be improved via a new collector based on the Linux kernel feature userfaultfd, which is coming to ART on Android 13 devices in an upcoming Google Play system update. The new collector saves battery life, avoids jank during GC operations, and protects apps from low-memory kills.

In addition, a nearby Wi-Fi devices permission for apps is introduced to manage a device’s connections to nearby access points, a notification runtimes permission capability will help users more easily tune into the notifications they deem the most important and a tile placement API enables apps to prompt the user to directly add a custom Quick Settings tile in one step without leaving the app.

Delving deeper, programmable RuntimeShader objects are introduced, rendering support is added for COLR version 1 fonts and support for multilingual users has been improved with a standard “App Language” Settings panel and a new platform API.

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