Android 13 Beta 2: The best new features and improvements


Jack Wallen takes a look at the second beta of Android 13 and reveals the best features.

Image: prima91/Adobe Stock

The second beta of Android 13 is out, and it’s ready for testing. This new release was announced at Google I/O, where the new features and improvements were also introduced. Android 13 looks so far to be more of a polishing to Android 12 than a major release. That’s great, because Android 12 has proven to be one of the best iterations of the platform – if not the best – to date.

From Android 13 Beta 1, I found animations smoother, Material You more refined, QR codes easier to scan, notifications better managed, the suggested apps feature back and display/text size can be configured in the same location.

But what about Android 13 Beta 2? What fresh features and improvements have come along for the ride? Let’s find out.

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Pixel Launcher global search in Android 13 Beta 2

If you’re a Pixel phone user, you’ll be happy to know the global search option has somewhat returned. This feature, which allows you to search your device from the persistent Google search bar on the home screen, was originally added to the launcher in Pixel 12, but removed from the first beta of Android 13.

As of Android 13 Beta 2, the global search has added back in the ability to search for installed apps on your device, but nothing more. Hopefully, in the coming months, we’ll see this complete feature added back – with maybe even more features.

For example, on my Pixel 6 Pro running Android 12, if I tap the persistent Google search bar and type Slack, I see search results as well as the Slack launcher (Figure A).

Figure A

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Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. The global search feature in Android 12 is fully functional.

If I had any other Slack-related files on my phone, they might well appear in the results.

On Android 13 Beta 2, however, we see the same results as Android 12, minus any related content.

Scheduled dark mode in Android 13 Beta 2

This feature is sure to please those who wake up in the middle of the night to use their phone, only to have to squint at the blinding light. With Android 13 Beta 2, you can schedule a pseudo-dark made to automatically turn on at bedtime. To do this, open the Digital Wellbeing app and then tap Bedtime Mode (Figure B).

Figure B

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Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. Bedtime mode is found in Digital Wellbeing.

In the resulting screen (Figure C), make sure Grayscale is enabled and tap Next.

Figure C

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Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. Enabling the grayscale mode for bedtime.

In the next window (Figure D), configure the time for Bedtime mode to start and end and click Done.

Figure D

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Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. Scheduling Bedtime mode in Android 13 beta 2.

Once complete, the grayscale mode will kick on and off at your desired times.

Android 13 Beta 2: More changes and improvements

There are a few more changes and improvements to be found, but none of these include much of a “wow” factor.

  • The minimum Battery Saver has increased from 5% to 10%.
  • The battery Level widget has been improved and now only shows your Pixel battery level – if you have no Bluetooth devices attached.
  • Animations have been further refined and include a new pulsating in-display fingerprint scanner icon.
  • The Media player has been tweaked with some controllers (such as quick skip forward and backward) being relocated to the right side of the player and the ability to more easily hide the media player.
  • It’s now easier to access split-screen mode from applications in the dock. Long press one and you should see a split-screen icon in the popup menu. Do note: Although I’ve upgraded my Pixel 5 to Beta 2, this feature has yet to appear.
  • A new photo picker adds even more controls over files that can be accessed by various apps and even now allows you to select specific file types to share with specific apps.
  • Clipboard history is now automatically cleared after a “short period.”
  • Settings categories no longer “pop” in once tapped but have a subtle slide animation.

How to test out Android 13 Beta 2

Remember, this is only the second beta version of Android 13, so there will be more tweaks, features and optimizations to come. If you’re interested in testing out the beta version of Android 13 (I don’t recommend doing this on your daily driver), head over to the Android Beta Program and enroll one of your devices.



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