Android 13 Developer Preview 2 arrives with notification permission requests and other changes
February saw the release of the first Android 13 Developer Preview, and with it came the groundwork for the next iteration of the world’s biggest operating system. It brought along a number of changes that benefit developers and made improvements to privacy, Material You, language controls, and more. Now the company has announced the second developer preview, and it has some additional features and lots of improvements over the previous developer preview.
As the title “Developer Preview” implies, these releases are intended for usage by developers only. It’s for testing out new features and making sure that their apps work on updated devices as they’re supposed to. There are going to be bugs, there are going to be other problems, and Google will be pushing for feedback from developers over the coming months. If you don’t mind running into problems, then, by all means, give Android 13 a try. However, if you rely on your smartphone being consistently stable, then it might be worth waiting for the full Android 13 release that’s expected to launch in the latter half of the year.
The most notable features of Android 13 developer preview 2 include:
- Notification permission requests
- Developers can now downgrade their permissions
- A ton of developer productivity improvements
When will Android 13 release?
For Android updates, Google typically reveals a “platform stability” milestone so that developers can know when Google intends on delivering the final SDK/NDK APIs, along with final internal APIs and app-facing system behaviors. Google intends on reaching platform stability in June 2022, with several weeks at minimum planned before the official release. Android 12 hit platform stability in August of 2021 and the final version was released in October of that year. Google has released more details about the release timeline that you can check out.
Privacy and security
Google knows that users want an operating system that they can trust with their data. After all, smartphones have reached the point where they are effectively an extension of ourselves and our own lives in a lot of ways. We use them for storing important photos, having private conversations with friends and family, and carrying them with us day to day with the trust that microphones or cameras aren’t recording every interaction. We’ve seen changes for Android 13’s permissions system (amongst other changes) introduced in Android 13 Developer Preview 1, and Developer Preview 2 expands on that.
Android 13 introduces a new runtime permission for sending notifications from an app: POST_NOTIFICATIONS. Apps that target Android 13 will now need to request permission from the user in order to push notifications. For apps that target Android 12 or lower, the system will handle the upgrade flow, but users will still see a system dialog that they need to accept or decline to allow for an app to push notifications. Google is encouraging developers to target Android 13 as early as possible and request the notification permission in their apps.
Developer downgrade permissions
Sometimes when apps are updated, they don’t need older permissions that were once previously granted. Android 13 is introducing a new API that will allow developers to downgrade previously granted runtime permissions.
Safer exporting of context-registered receivers
Android 12 introduced and required developers to declare the exportability of Intent receivers declared in the Android Manifest. Google is now asking developers to do the same for context-registered receivers by adding either the RECEIVER_EXPORTED or RECEIVER_NOT_EXPORTED flag when registering receivers for non-system sources. These won’t be required in Android 13 but are highly recommended for developers to enable.
Android wouldn’t be what it is without developers, and every platform update usually brings updates that make the lives of developers easier. Some updates definitely make it more difficult, but Google generally tries to streamline the development process of apps with every iteration.
Improved Japanese text wrapping
Android 13 DP1 introduced improvements to TextView text wrapping, and now some improvements are being introduced specifically for Japanese text. This time around, TextViews can now wrap text by Bunsetsu (the smallest unit of words that sounds natural) or phrases — instead of by character — for more polished and readable Japanese applications. You’ll just need to enable android:lineBreakWordStyle=”
Improved line heights for non-Latin scripts
In, Android 13 non-Latin scripts (such as Tamil, Burmese, Telugu, and Tibetan) are displayed by using a line height that’s adapted for each language. This prevents clipping and improves text positioning, and all an app needs to do to implement these improvements is target Android 13.
Text Conversion APIs
People who speak languages like Japanese and Chinese use phonetic lettering input methods, which can slow down searching and features like auto-completion. In Android 13, apps can call the new text conversion API so users can find what they’re looking for faster and easier. Previously, searching in Japanese required the user to do the following:
- Input Hiragana as the phonetic pronunciation of their search term (i.e. a place or an app name)
- Use the keyboard to convert the Hiragana characters to Kanji,
- Re-search using the Kanji characters
- Get their search results.
With the new text conversion API, Japanese users can type in Hiragana and immediately see Kanji search results live, skipping the middle two steps.
Color vector fonts
Android 13 adds rendering support for COLR version 1 fonts and updates the system emoji to the COLRv1 format. COLRv1 is a new and highly-compact font format that renders quickly and crisply at any size. For most apps, the system handles everything and COLRv1 just works. Google recommends testing emoji rendering if your app implements its own text rendering and uses the system fonts. You can read more about COLRv1 in the Chrome announcement when it was announced with Chrome OS 98.
Bluetooth LE Audio
Bluetooth Low Energy Audio is, as the name suggests, a low-energy way to transmit audio over Bluetooth. Android 13 brings official support for it.
Android 13 also adds support for the new MIDI 2.0 standard, including the ability to connect MIDI 2.0 hardware through USB. MIDI 2.0 offers improvements such as increased resolution for controllers, better support for non-Western intonation, and more expressive performance using per-note controllers.
How to download and install Android 13 Developer Preview 2 on your Google Pixel device
Google is officially releasing this developer preview update for the Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6, Pixel 5a 5G, Pixel 5, Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 4a, Pixel 4 XL, or Pixel 4. You can use the 64-bit system images with the Android Emulator in Android Studio, and you can also use a GSI too.
What are your thoughts on the latest Developer Preview build? Will you be installing it on your device? How has your experience been? Let us know in the comments below!