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Google only just released Android 13’s first Feature Drop, but the company is already hard at work preparing the next update, which is supposed to come out in March 2023. Just like that, the first beta for this second Quarterly Platform Release (QPR) came out on December 12, 2022. While Google hasn’t spilled too many beans on what’s going to be new, avid experts took a look at what’s happening behind the scenes and which new features are going to be released as part of it.

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Interface changes

Visual changes are always the most noticeable ones, and there are a few tweaks available in QPR2 Beta 1. The quick settings tiles in the notification shade were moved up ever so slightly and sit closer to the clock and date now. When you expand them by swiping down, you’ll also notice that the clock increases in size as you swipe, while the date is moved below the clock. The mobile service provider is also displayed on top of the status icons in the right rather than next to them.

1st image: New media player animation. 2nd: Big clock in the notification shade.

Google can’t seem to stop tweaking the media player that sits in the notification shade, and Android 13 QPR2 isn’t any different. The new version of Android adds a foggy overlay to the album art that’s used as a background for the media player that animates when you first view the player. The animation just disappears after you look at it for a while, and it doesn’t respond to current playback at all, which makes us believe that it’s still under development and not finished.

The notification shade exhibits another notable change (or bug). When you swipe down on the lock screen without first unlocking, it will show a black background (even in light mode) and hide silent notifications altogether. In previous versions of Android, silent notifications wouldn't appear on the lock screen, but they would show up again once you swipe down.

First pair of images: Notifications on the lock screen. 2nd pair: Notifications on the home screen.

Another option that Google is working on with this release is the possibility to launch an app in fullscreen mode when you already tapped the split-screen option. This is useful in case you change your mind about using an app in split-screen mode. Right now, you'd have to pick the app in question again from your Recents screen or your home screen when you want to launch it in fullscreen view instead.

As spotted by , the QPR2 beta’s Pixel Launcher made tweaks to icon density and padding. In folders, app icons are now further apart from each other, making it harder to hit the wrong one by accident. App icons on the home screen itself have also moved slightly up compared to previous Android 13 versions, complete with more padding on the left and right. This is additionally the case for the app launcher that you can access by swiping up anywhere on your home screen.

Another small interface tweak has been made to the Battery Health settings, which were first discovered in QPR1 code. The panel shows you your battery details and how much of its original capacity it still offers. As long as it's aging as it should, you'll get a green checkmark telling you that everything is okay, but the panel also offers actionable tips on how you can extend your battery life.

Desktop mode preparations

uncovered further changes under the hood. As he mentioned in his roundup about Android 13’s December Feature Drop, work is continuing on the currently hidden desktop mode that was originally only meant for developers testing multi-screen environments. When you use desktop mode on this version of Android, there is a floating bar overlaid on top of floating or freeform windows, which offers options to minimize, maximize, enter split-screen mode, and more. This makes it clear that the company is trying to get the mode ready for consumers.

After some tinkering, Mishaal Rahman was able to activate the mode and demonstrate how these floating windows look like in action, which you can see below.

Parital screen sharing

Google is also continuing work on partial screen recordings, which Rahman first uncovered in the current December Feature Drop. The option will allow you to pick a single window to record or cast, similar to how you can choose individual tabs or windows for sharing in video conference calls. On Android, you will be able to pick between single apps and full screen sharing.

New not-so-Material You theme

Another tidbit spotted by Rahman is a new Material You theme called “MONOCHROMATIC.” It initially wasn't available for use, but he managed to activate it via root. As you might judge by the theme's name, it is one of the most muted options you can choose. It's similar to the “SPRITZ” option that was introduced with the first version of Android 13, a desaturated theme that already feels monochromatic itself, but takes things further with a purely black and white base. If you're someone who just can't get on board with Material You, this might be your theme.

Miscellaneous

A big update like this also fixes up smaller issues. Some people report that their Pixel 7 Pro scrolling issues have been resolved, which used to be inconsistent for them. Then there are people who lost access to the new unified Security & Privacy settings pane, which seems to be related to the way Google rolls out that option (using Google Play services rather than system updates). There are even more bits and pieces found by Mishaal Rahman, collected for your convenience below.

  • Google is looking to add a reduced vibration mode to Pixels, presumably to help out those devices with bad haptic engines.
  • The Google Pixel 6 Pro has received a 1080p display option with this update, similar to what the Pixel 7 Pro already offers.
  • Spatial Audio has been re-enabled for all supported Pixels (Pixel 6 series through Pixel 7 series). You might be able to notice a difference when you listen to spatial audio sample videos on YouTube with Spatial Audio enabled.
  • A new adaptive alert vibration option could reduce the strength of notification vibrations when your phone is lying flat on a surface with the screen up, though this feature isn’t live or accessible just yet.
  • There is further evidence that Google is developing software for its rumored foldable Google Pixel Fold: A new setting will be available for devices with side-mounted fingerprint sensors (which the Fold is rumored to feature), allowing you to only unlock your phone with it when the screen is turned on.
  • Google is considering separating the ringer and notification volume. In old Android versions, this has always been the case, but Google combined these two options on Pixel phones a long time ago.

Join the Android 13 QPR1 beta program

If you have a Pixel phone, you can join the Android 13 QPR2 beta program over at the . Here, you will have to select the “View your eligible devices” option to pick the phone that you would like to enroll in the beta. As always, be aware that there might be bugs that outright break the way you use your phone, so proceed with caution and only if you can do without your Pixel phone in an emergency. If you prefer to sideload the beta, be sure to learn how to install the Android 13 beta.

UPDATE: 2022/12/14 12:23 EST BY MANUEL VONAU

More features and details

The article has been updated with more hidden findings and details within Android 13 QPR2 Beta 1.