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Google releases public beta for Android 13

The latest update of the next version of the OS comes ahead of the tech giant's I/O developer event in May

Android 13 is now available as a public beta for anyone with a compatible Pixel handset, Google has announced.

A final version is not expected till August, at the earliest, but anyone can access this latest beta with either a Pixel 4, 4a, 5, 5A, 6, or 6 Pro handset.

The release comes just two weeks ahead of Google I/O, the tech giant's annual developer conference, where a more in-depth look at Android 13 is expected. So far Google has only offered brief insights via two developer previews, which showcased new privacy and security features. The design appears largely similar to Android 12, though there is a further expansion of the customisable 'Material You' interface.

There's also support for Bluetooth Low Energy Audio, a 'photo picker' that allows users to restrict which photos an app is able to access, and new app icon theme options.

Google is focusing on privacy and security with Android 13 and will include more 'granular' permissions for media file access. The aim is to offer more transparency and control to the end-user by forcing apps to request access to specific types of files in shared storage.

There is also improved error reporting in Keystore and KeyMint, which are apps that generate encryption keys. In Android 13, these apps will offer more detailed and accurate error indicators with a new 'exception' class hierarchy. Methods for key generation, signing, and encryption will also be customisable, the tech giant said.

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In terms of audio updates, there is a new 'Anticipatory audio routing' feature that will help apps better manage audio streams. This includes new audio route APIs in an AudioManager class. It will offer up a list of devices that may be used to play specified audio while other APIs can be used to understand whether an audio stream can be played directly. The aim is to determine the best audio format to use for an audio track.

To get access to Android 13, users need to enrol their compatible Pixel device and set up an SDK which can be downloaded from the Android 13 developer site.

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