It’s that time of the year again when Google releases a new version of Android for testing. Android 13 is now available in beta, and you can now install the update on your Pixel if you’re interested in taking a look at all the new features that are coming to Android.
The first beta doesn’t give us any major feature additions, and considering Google overhauled the UI with Material You last year on Android 12, it’s likely that Android 13 will focus more on new feature additions around security and privacy instead of a wholesale UI change.
So what does that mean for Android 13? Google has added a few tweaks to Material You customization, and we’ve already seen a few security features — including a privacy-focused photo picker and granular controls for media. Google is going to add more over the coming weeks as we get more beta builds.
Given that this is the first Android 13 beta, it is limited to Pixel devices starting with the Pixel 4 series and above. So if you have an eligible phone and are interested in trying out the latest features that Android has to offer, here’s how you can install Android 13 on your Pixel phone.
WHICH PHONES CAN DOWNLOAD THE ANDROID 13 BETA?
At this moment, the Android 13 beta is available for eight Pixel phones:
- Pixel 4
- Pixel 4 XL
- Pixel 4a
- Pixel 4a 5G
- Pixel 5
- Pixel 5a
- Pixel 6
- Pixel 6 Pro
In years past, Google rolled out the beta program to devices from the likes of Xiaomi, Vivo, Realme, OnePlus, ASUS, and others, and that is likely to be the case this time as well.
We’ll have to wait until the third-party beta program kicks off, and we’ll add details of the same once it goes live. It shouldn’t be long before it is available for the best Android phones.
INSTALL ANDROID 13 BETA USING THE ANDROID BETA PROGRAM
The easiest and simplest way to get the Android 13 beta is to enroll in the Android Beta Program.
Simply visit the Android Beta portal and opt-in to the beta, which will then prompt Google to send your phone or tablet an over-the-air update. You should then be able to install the update and restart your phone to make the switch to Android 13.
- Head to Android Beta program portal on your Pixel phone.
- Sign in to the Google account associated with that phone.
- Scroll down to Your eligible devices.
- Find the device you want to enroll in the Beta program and tap Opt-in.
- Follow the prompts on your phone to accept the over-the-air download.
What if I want to leave the beta program?
You can easily opt out of the beta program by going to the same Android Beta portal as you did to enroll, scroll down to your device, and tap Opt out. But be warned; doing so will get rid of all the data on your phone.
INSTALL ANDROID 13 USING THE ANDROID FLASH TOOL
You can also use the Android Flash Tool, a web-based version of the ADB developer tool, to install the Android 13 beta onto your phone.
- Head to the Android Flash Tool site.
- Allow the site to access ADB in your browser.
- Enable Developer Mode on your phone.
- Enable USB Debugging in the Developer Settings.
- Enable OEM Unlocking on your device.
- Plug in your phone to a USB port on your computer.
- Select the device from the pop-up and follow the instructions to install the beta.
INSTALL ANDROID 13 BETA BY FLASHING THE BOOTLOADER
If you want to try Android 13 on your Pixel manually, you’ll have to flash the OTA onto your Pixel. But before we get started, know that this method will involve deleting all data on your phone; if you don’t want to do that, use the Flash Tool above and sideload the Android 13 beta instead.
Before you start doing this, make sure that no OTA updates are yet to be installed on your Pixel. Go to Settings > About phone > System updates and see no pending updates. Also, ensure that you have USB debugging enabled on your phone.
To get started, head to the Android 13 OTA images page, and download the relevant build for your Pixel. To sideload the build onto your Pixel, you’ll need to use ADB — I’m a fan of Universal ADB Drivers. Once installed on your Windows machine and the OTA image has been downloaded, you can start sideloading the build.
You’ll first need to put your phone in recovery mode. You can power off and then hold the Power button along with the Volume Down button for a few seconds to enter the bootloader menu and select the recovery option using the Volume Down button.
Here, you should see the Android mascot face down with an exclamation mark over it. Hold down the Power button and press Volume Up once to enter recovery mode. Next, navigate to the option that says Apply update from ADB by using the Volume Up button and confirm the selection by pressing the Power button once.
Now you are ready to sideload the OTA image. Confirm that your phone can connect to your computer and is detectable. For this, plug your Pixel into your computer and run the command:
You should see your phone’s serial number and sideload next to it. Now we can get to flashing the OTA build; just run the following in CMD:
adb sideload ota_file.zip
Here, you will need to switch out ota_file.zip with the filename of the OTA build for your particular device. I’m installing Android 13 on a Pixel 4a, so I entered the following: sunfish-tpb1.220310.029-factory-4503e8c1.zip into CMD. For this to work, make sure that the OTA file is in the same directory as the CMD path.
Once the OTA file is transferred to your phone, it should go back to the recovery menu. Navigate to Reboot system now and confirm with the Power button to restart your phone. The OTA update will be installed and your phone will switch to Android 13 without losing any data.
WHAT COMES NEXT WITH ANDROID 13?
We’re just getting started with Android 13, and we should see more feature additions as we get closer to the stable build. Google has indicated that there will be four beta versions of Android 13, with a new beta releasing monthly through July.
The stable build should be rolled out sometime in the fall, in line with what we’ve seen in the past with Android 12 and Android 11.
We’ll delve into details on new features once we get closer to launch and Google starts introducing new features, but for now, know that Android 13 isn’t noticeably different from Android 12 — at least from a user-facing point of view.
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