Here's the timeline of Android 13, the latest version of Google's popular and dominant mobile operating system and how it is rolled out to different devices. Read on to know when your device is likely to get the newest Android.
The public beta of Android 13 (codename Tiramisu) has been out for just about a week and slowly but steadily, updates on the latest iteration of the world's most popular mobile operating system (OS) are filtering in.
As has been the case every year since the Pixel lineup made its debut in 2016, Google's own smartphones will be the first to get Android 13, followed by other manufacturers over the course of the next several months.
Android 13 schedule
Google released the first developer preview of Android 13 back in February, followed by the second preview in March. Last week, Google released the first public beta of Android 13.
The second beta will be released later this month, followed by Beta 3 in June, with which Google aims to attain "platform stability" — all user-facing interfaces and OS behaviour will be finalised. The fourth beta will be released in July, which will be a near-complete build for final testing. This will be followed by the public release of Android 13, either the same month or the next.
Also Read | Android 13 feature details
Google's Official Android 13 Timeline
|February||Developer Preview 1||Early build focused on developer feedback, with new features, APIs, and behaviour changes.||Report any critical issues or requests and begin early app compatibility testing.|
|March||Developer Preview 2||Incremental update with additional features||Get apps ready for consumer Beta. Continue testing.|
|April||Beta 1||Over-the-air update to early adopters who enrolled in Android Beta.||Continue testing, watch for feedback from Android Beta users.|
|May||Beta 2||Incremental release||Continue testing, watch for feedback from Android Beta users.|
|June||Beta 3||First Platform Stability milestone. Final APIs and behaviours.||Final compatibility testing for apps and libraries. Release compatible versions.|
|July||Beta 4||Near-final build for final testing.||Release compatible versions of apps and libraries.|
|July/August||Final release||Android 13 release to consumers & manufacturers||Release compatible versions for apps, SDKs, and libraries.|
So, which smartphones are compatible with Android 13?
More information will be released at Google I/O next week, but Google has already released the list of its Pixel phones that are eligible for the update — Pixel 4, 4 XL, 4a, 4a 5G, Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, Pixel 6, and Pixel 6 Pro.
What about other smartphones, then?
This is where it gets a little tricky. Every smartphone manufacturer gets access to the newest version of Android from the Android Open Source Project, after which they customise the OS to fit the look and feel of their smartphones. Samsung has its One UI, Xiaomi has MIUI, OnePlus had OxygenOS, but the company announced last year that the codebases of OxygenOS and its sister company Oppo's ColorOS will be merged, making for a more cohesive, streamlined release pattern.
Because of company-specific customisation — called "skinning" — Android releases to users of these smartphones are staggered, often delayed by months. In fact, most smartphone companies finished rolling out Android 12 to certain models a couple of months ago.
However, as illiustrated in the table below, based on when some prominent manufacturers released Android 12 to their userbase, we can assume the same timeline will apply to Android 13.
|Manufacturer||Android 12 release|
|Samsung||December 2021 (Galaxy S series), January 2022 (Galaxy Fold & Flip)|
|OnePlus||December 2021 (OnePlus 9 series), March 2022 (OnePlus 8 series)|
|Sony||March 2022 (1 III, 5 III, Pro-I)|
|Xiaomi||February-March 2022 (M11 series)|
Historically, Android smartphones have only been supported for 18 months since the date of manufacture. The biggest reason for this was the sheer scale of fragmentation of the Android ecosystem — the different screen sizes, processors, RAM and storage space meant not every smartphone would have had the firepower to run the latest version of Android. Also, smartphone manufacturers would have had to customise the software for each model, which was not worth their time.
This is in stark contrast to Apple, which releases five models per year, over which it maintains absolute hardware and software control, allowing the company to support the devices for years. The iPhone 6s, which released way back in 2015, will be discontinued from OS support this September, after seven years.
However, this has started to change, with Android smartphone makers starting to catch up. As of 2021, Samsung has promised to support its Galaxy S lineup of smartphones for three years, and other companies followed suit. In May last year, Oppo too said it would support its flagship phones for three years, with a plan to extend it to four years and for a wider range of devices.
Xiaomi too had committed to three years of OS updates and four years of security updates for its Mi 11T Series smartphones (the Mi 11T and 11T Pro). In a press release, the company had hinted at wider device support in the future. Vivo and OnePlus too committed to multiple years of software support for their existing range of smartphones.
What is Android One?
The Android One programme was launched by Google to allow smartphones to stay on the latest version of the OS that is unemcumbered by custom skins, bloatware — "stock Android". Phones that are part of the Android One Programme are guaranteed to stay up to date for two years after release.
(Edited by : Abhishek Jha)
First Published: IST