And someday, maybe you’ll even get to use it
Unlike Android betas on your phone — which invite practically anyone with a modern Pixel device to give it a go — Android TV’s annual rounds of preview software aren’t quite as easy to access. When Android TV 13 arrived on the scene earlier this year, we were excited to give it a whirl. Unfortunately, you needed a specific piece of dev-focused hardware to get that far. The second beta was even more restricted, limiting installs solely to emulators. While that difficulty isn’t changing today, Android TV 13 is finally out of beta, bringing us one step closer to actually experiencing the latest version of Google’s big-screen OS.
Unsurprisingly, Android TV 13 is primarily focused on behind-the-scenes changes — no big improvements to the UI here. Instead, Google is supplying developers with new APIs and new accessibility controls to help make their TV-friendly platform even more usable. It’s worth checking out the complete changelog for exact details on what’s new this time around, but rest assured, there’s plenty worth looking forward to.
Although it might take a while for your Nvidia Shield TVs or Chromecasts to get this update — the latest Google TV-powered Chromecasts only received an Android 12 update earlier this year — there are a handful of features worth highlighting. Adjustable resolution and refresh rates are (finally) here, a no-brainer group of options that are better late than never. Some new power-saving methods are here as well, allowing devices to pause shows and movies if the HDMI signal changes to something new.
There’s plenty under the hood here, of course, including AudioManager API changes that add anticipatory audio routes for specific formats and speaker groups. The InputDevice APIs, meanwhile, have new keyboard layouts for various languages, along with methods for game devs to specifically tie physical keys to locations in order to better handle different styles of keyboards or controllers.
All told, it’s a relatively small change that is unlikely to affect users in any meaningful way. If you’re a developer, though, you can start using Android TV 13 today, provided you have an ADT-3 dev box. Otherwise, you’ll have to be reliant on an emulator.