It’s hard to believe that a month after the first developer-focused build, Android 13 Developer Preview 2 is now available with a whole host of new features and functions. Here is a shortlist of some of the best.

Video — Android 13 Developer Preview 2: top new features!

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Yet another media player redesign

Let’s start with the all-so-often altered media player, which is getting another makeover in Android 13 Developer Preview 2. In the first developer preview, a few things were changed, likely by accident, but now we have a better idea of what is changing. Almost paying homage to the pre-Android 11 media player that featured album art, the new player stylizes any playing media with a large circular play/pause button and playback progress bar taking up a larger portion of the panel.

You’ll get media app-specific controls here too, including skip forward, skip backwards, shuffle, and favorite options, where available. It’s a big change to essentially revert back to the older player style — albeit with a Material You twist.

Android 13 Developer Preview 2 also expands the usability of the pop-out playback switcher with an added option to pair a new device. This should help streamline the process of getting connected to Bluetooth speakers and headphones, as you don’t need to close this panel and then head directly into Settings to access wider pairing controls.

Extensive notification shade tuning

There’s a lot more going on in the notification shade than just the media player. Google has decided that this prominent UI portion needed some serious attention in Android 13 Developer Preview 2, so there is a lot to unpack here.

  • Do Not Disturb renamed “Priority mode”
    • Although the feature remains intact and blocks out any unwanted distractions and notification pop-ups, Priority mode is the new name for Do Not Disturb. Opening the wider settings might still show “Do Not Disturb” though.
  • Device controls renamed to “Home” with new icon
    • Controlling any smart home-connected devices is now done under the banner of “Home” rather than the generic “Device controls” toggle. Much like the Priority mode toggle, no functionality has changed. However, there is a new icon on the lockscreen here too.
  • QR code scanner tile now works
    • Although added in Developer Preview 1, the QR code scanner Quick Settings tile should now work on most devices. This allows you to quickly scan QR codes without needing to open a dedicated app or even Google Lens. You may have issues with this as a result of a Google Play Services update, but it should work after getting the right build.
  • Security & privacy toggle
    • Not content with the microphone and camera access toggles, Google has added a new toggle called “Security & privacy” that amalgamates camera, microphone, and location access controls under one banner. This could eventually replace three tiles, but for now you can have both.
  • New pinned quick Settings and Power button icons
    • At the bottom of the notification shade, you’ll also notice new pinned toggles for the Power menu, Settings, and Profiles (if enabled). This is visible when fully expanding out this panel and makes it even easier to access any of these important options.
  • Active apps
    • Likely to help you instantly see which apps are running in the background at any one point in time, there is a new option called “Active apps.” Tapping this will open up a pop-up that will show any currently running background apps. You’re also able to stop these from running to free up system resources if you wish.

Lockscreen notification tweaks

Android 13 Developer Preview 2 lockscreen notification bundle tweaks

If you happen to get multiple notifications at once, Android 13 Developer Preview 2 now bundles these notifications once you have more than three. You’ll see the latest two notifications and any details while app icons will appear underneath to indicate that you have other app notifications waiting to be opened. Tapping these opens and fully expands the notification shade so that you can see everything you might have missed.

Notification permission pop-up

Android 13 Developer Preview 2 notification prompt

Likely part of the wider enhanced Privacy dashboard controls, when you launch an app in Android 13 Developer Preview 2, you may see a pop-up asking you to confirm if you want to allow said application to continue sending notifications. This might be especially useful for seldom used apps that can clutter and invade your on-device notifications.

Improved haptic feedback controls

You’re offered up a few new options to adjust and tweak the haptic experience on your Pixel with Android 13 Developer Preview 2 — so long as your phone is in ring or vibrate mode. The total silence option still disables all haptic feedback in this build. You’re able to adjust the vibration strength of more options including alarms, media, and more.

Custom Guest profile pictures

New guest profile icons in Android 13 Developer Preview 2

While we’ve been able to create multiple on-device profiles for a long time, Google is addressing a minor issue by adding the ability to create and upload your own profile images. When creating or editing an existing profile, you can now select from some colorful basic avatars or take an image using your Pixel camera, alongside being able to upload from your camera roll or gallery.

App drawer for tablet/big screen taskbar

Android 12L is now available and focused on larger form factors and foldable. As part of that, a new taskbar or “dock” was added, but we’re seeing even more tweaks to the feature in Android 13 Developer Preview 2. When testing with a tablet-like DPI — usually above 600 — you’ll get an app drawer button if you have an app currently in fullscreen view. This makes it easier to quickly launch into other apps for multi-tasking purposes, but it’s still not ideal for large displays.

Per-app language settings

App language controls in Android 13 Developer Preview 2

Although this feature was added in the first preview, if you’re multilingual, you’re now able to set individual languages on an app-by-app basis. This can be found by heading to Settings > System > Languages and input > App languages. Each app will be set to your system default, but you can adjust this setting to any available language on your device.

Redesigned “Screen saver” menu

Redesigned "Screen saver" menu in Android 13 Developer Preview 2

When your Pixel is docked, you can activate a screen saver to show in a sort of semi-smart-display fashion. In Developer Preview 2, this menu has been revamped and now better resembles the Wallpaper and style section. Instead of diving deeper into menus, you get a tiled layout with all options available including Clock, Colors, or your Google Photos library.

Merged font and display size controls

To help with visual adjustments, Android 13 Developer Preview 2 merges the “Display size” and “Font size” sections into a new “Display size and text” section that lets you control all associated on-screen visual elements. You also get better previews of your changes in a smaller section.

Android 13 Developer Preview 2: What is your favorite new change or feature?

There are more than just surface-level changes in the Android 13 Developer Preview 2, but this small selection includes the top user-facing features that we’ve found thus far. Naturally, we expect to see more little things that might have slipped through the cracks over the coming days and weeks. We will likely have a deeper dive into every single thing that has been added, including some features that require a little work to get fully operational in our full overview coming very soon.

What is your favorite new feature or features? Let us know down in the comments section below!

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Damien Wilde

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