The Pixel 6A may have only been released last Thursday, but Google is wasting no time bringing the latest beta version of Android 13 to its new midrange device.
Android 13’s latest beta, version 4.1, is now available for the Pixel 6A. The software was released last Monday and was initially known for the Pixel 4 through 6 Pro.
Android 13 is a relatively minor update for Google’s Pixel 6A mobile operating system. Pixel 6A builds on some of the design changes seen in last year’s Android 12 update with expanded support for theming app icons and adds support for the new Bluetooth LE Audio standard and new privacy features.
Previously Available Up To Pixel 6 Devices
You shouldn’t have long to wait for Android 13 to be officially released if you don’t want to obtain your hands dirty with beta software. Google declared its fourth public beta, released last month, would be its final major beta and Android 13 was “just a few weeks away.”
The Google-designed Tensor processor was the critical component introduced alongside the Pixel 6, mainly to improve its on-device AI abilities for speech recognition and more. And now, it seems, it will be a staple of the line: Osterloh said all the forthcoming Pixel phones — and even the Android-powered tablet the team is operating on for release subsequent year — will run on its Tensor processor.
The Pixel and Android crews have recently adopted a mantra: Better Together. This year, much of what’s new in Android 13 is not whizbang new features but minor tweaks meant to make the ecosystem more seamless. With an update to the Chrome OS Phone Hub feature, you’ll be competent to utilize all your messaging apps on the Chromebook just as you would on your phone.
Approval for the Matter’s innovative home standard now arrives built into Android, creating set up and controlling new devices much more accessible. Google expands support for its Cast protocols for shipping audio and video to other devices and improves its Fast Pair services to make it easy to connect Bluetooth devices. Since CES in January, it has been talking about these features and has signed up an impressive list of partners.
It sounds like Google finally watched an Apple ad and discovered that making hardware and software together does help. Who knew! But Google’s position is genuinely tricky here. Google’s ad business relies on a mind-bending colossal scale, which it gets primarily thanks to other companies creating Android products. That means Google has to support all those partners happy and discern like they’re on a level playing field with the Pixel team. And it simply can’t control its ecosystem as Apple can. It is forever fretting about backward compatibility and how fortes will work on all sizes, prices, and power devices. It has to engender support to make significant changes, whereas Apple brute-forces the future.
Another way of telling the only way Google can get to its ambient computing dreams is to make sure Google is everywhere. Like, everywhere. Google invests in products in seemingly every square inch of life, from TV to the thermostat to the car to the wrist to the ears. The ambient-computing fortune may be one computer to rule them all, but it needs near-infinite user interfaces.
The second step to creating ambient computing work is making it easy to use. Google is relentlessly trying to carve away every friction in accessing its services, particularly the Assistant. So, for instance, if you own a Nest Hub Max, you’ll soon be able to converse with it just by glancing into its camera, and you’ll be able to set timers or turn off the lights without giving a command at all.
The most apparent outpouring of that work is multi-search. For example, using the Google app, you can take a photo of a dress — by Google’s standards, it’s always a dress — and then type “green” to search for that dress in green. That’s the kind of thing you couldn’t do in a text box.
And at I/O, Google also conducted a tool for running multi-search on an image with multiple things: take a picture of the peanut butter aisle, type “nut-free,” and Google will tell you which one to buy. Search employed to be one thing, Lens was another, and voice was a third, but when you incorporate them, new things become feasible.
But the authentic challenge for Google is that it’s much higher than a question-and-answer engine now. For instance, shopping has become essential to Google, but there’s no single correct response for “best t-shirt.” Plus, Google is employing search more and more to keep you inside Google’s ecosystem; the search box is increasingly just a launcher for various Google things.
So rather than just seeking to understand the internet, Google has to remember to understand its users better than ever. Does it support that Google has a gigantic store of first-party data accumulated over the last few decades on billions of people globally? Of course, it does! But even that isn’t enough to earn Google where it’s going.
Google seems to be proceeding to try and make users comfortable with its existence: it’s moving more AI to devices themselves instead of processing and keeping everything in the cloud. It’s moving toward new systems of data collection that don’t so clearly identify an individual, and it’s delivering users more ways to control their privacy and security settings. But the ambient-computer life needs a privacy tradeoff, and Google is desperate to make it good sufficiently that it’s worth it. That’s a high bar and bringing higher all the time.
This whole procedure is full of high bars for Google. For example, suppose it wants to build an ambient computer that can be all things to everyone. In that case, it will need to create a sweeping ecosystem of hugely famous devices that all drive compatible software and services while seamlessly blending with a robust global ecosystem of other gadgets, including those made by its direct competitors. And that’s to construct the interface.
Google maintains to turn the Assistant into something genuinely lovely to interact with all day and make its services flex to each need and workflow of users across the globe. But, of course, nothing about that will be comfortable.