Android 13 preview locks down notifications and adds more to tablet taskbar

Android 13 Developer Preview 2 is out, and with it a lot of changes for the next version of Android. Preview 2 is still a very early preview of Android 13, and most of the big features revealed for these Android previews come during Google I/O. The good news is that Google has just set a date for this event: May 11-12.

First off, if you’re disappointed with the relatively small tablet changes Android 12L brings, know that Google is still working on tablet features. The latest preview of Android 13 adds an app drawer button to the taskbar, giving you easy access to all your apps from any screen. It’s a great addition, and it’s hopefully a sign of things to come for the brand new taskbar added in Android 12L.

Next, it would be great if the Android taskbar worked more like a Windows or Mac taskbar. The Android taskbar shows the bottom row of home screen icons, and that’s it. Instead, it should show pinned apps on one side and recently opened apps on the other. Other operating systems work like this because it makes sense. Google officially calls this a “taskbar”, so shouldn’t running tasks appear there?

As usual, there’s a lot going on with the notification panel. Opt-in notifications are live, so every app will now request notification permissions on first start. As someone who never wants to hear a notification from 90% of apps, it’s very satisfying to preemptively disallow most notifications.

Apps should now request notification permissions.
Enlarge / Apps should now request notification permissions.

Ron Amadeo

Settings (and the power button) have been moved to the bottom of the quick settings panel, and a new “app active” tracker lives there too. When you click on it, you will be able to see whatever is running in the background. Google actually calls this “active apps” button the “Foreground Services (FGS) Task Manager”.

The special media notification introduced in Android 11 has been completely redesigned. Instead of displaying album art in a thumbnail, the art now covers the entire notification background. The multimedia notification can no longer be reduced and it is not always the height of two notifications. Removing the double-height notification and thumbnail leaves a lot more room for controls, and you’ll now see a lot more text, a search bar, and “back” and “next” buttons.

A problem with the media player is that some music apps do not pass high resolution images to the media notification. Apps expect art to display in a small thumbnail, so it’s low resolution. Exploding the file into a full-width background image tends to look terrible.

You can now drag an app directly out of the notification panel and into the split screen.

You can now drag an app directly out of the notification panel and into the split screen.

Ron Amadeo

One of the coolest new features for split-screen addicts is the ability to drag an app out of the notification panel and into split-screen mode. Long press on a notification and start moving your finger. The notification panel will collapse and split-screen mode will activate. The only problem is that you can’t perform this action with the media player yet, because it creates weird and personalized system notifications.

Google has planned something crazy for Android’s mostly overlooked screensaver feature. Amazon Fire tablets can plug into a charging station and become an Alexa smart display, and it looks like Google wants to do something similar with the Google Assistant. The feature isn’t available yet, but Esper’s Mishaal Rahman has spotted code for “complications” that can run in screensaver mode. You will be able to view information such as weather, air quality, date and time, which is very much like a smart display feature.

Android 13 has already brought visible improvements to screensaver settings, such as new options to display rainbow animation or photos from Google Photos. Elsewhere in the settings, Google made the smart move to combine the “display size” and “font size” screens, as they both affect the size of everything. You can now manage everything from one screen, and there’s a big “reset” button at the bottom if you mess something up.

Finally, we have two new quick settings buttons: a QR code reader, which finally eliminates the need for a third-party app, and a new “Security and privacy” tile, which groups the microphone, camera access and the locating circuit breaker. in one button. Google displays these three tiny buttons on a giant full-screen popup, which hopefully is just evidence of some early alpha clumsiness.