The first beta of Android 13 QPR2 (Quarterly Platform Release) is currently available for specific Google Pixel models, giving us a glimpse of features and fixes that should eventually come to more Android phones.
Phones get beta version, according to Google’s page for Android developers (opens in a new tab)are Pixel 4 (4a and 4a 5G), Pixel 5 (base model and 5a), Pixel 6 series and Pixel 7 series. The release notes say nothing about what’s in the release, but prominent Android expert Mishaal Rahman, ruined everything in no time long Twitter thread (opens in a new tab). Everything in the beta falls into two categories: design changes that all of the Pixel devices listed will get, and features only available to a select few.
For starters, Android 13’s desktop mode got “enhanced window options” with a new title bar that makes it easier to drag windows around the screen, return to a previous page, or open a toolbar. However, it is quite buggy as well Rahman posted a video (opens in a new tab) of him dragging across a window in desktop mode only to crash after a few seconds.
Moving on to other noteworthy changes, Health Connect is now a preloaded app that allows you to collect all your personal health data from multiple sources in one app.
The new “transitional taskbar” will make the Pixel’s homepage navigation bar appear in browsing apps (possibly others as well) whenever you swipe up from the bottom. As the name suggests, the taskbar is temporary and soon hides so as not to distract you. Google is going back to an older design with separate ringer and notification volumes. For years you couldn’t adjust them individually, so it’s good to see this come back.
Something not mentioned in Rahman’s thread is home screen apps extra space around them (opens in a new tab). This means there will be less space in the launcher and you may have to scroll down to find the app you want, but the new padding makes the menu look less cluttered.
Some of the more interesting features are probably exclusive to selected models. For example, the Pixel 6 Pro has an updated display driver that allows users to select a “1080p screen resolution option” that is lower than the native 1440p resolution. This option can extend battery life. In addition, surround sound will arrive on the 6 Pro alongside the entry-level Pixel 6, Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro, coinciding with a feature arriving on Pixel Buds Pro coming next month (opens in a new tab).
There’s more to the beta version, but those are the highlights. It’s unclear if and when these features will officially launch, but Rahman says the beta will have a stable release in March. If you want to try the beta, you can join Pixel Android Beta Program (opens in a new tab) on Google’s website, then install it via settings. Google states in the release notes that the beta has some performance and stability issues, so keep that in mind when trying it out.
Be sure to check out TechRadar list of best pixel phones for a year, in case you’re still hesitating to pick it up.