Android 13: Everything You Need to Know

Aug 9, 2023 | Mobile Apps |

Android is the most popular mobile operating system in Australia occupying more than half the market share in Australia at 53.6% in 2022. 

As of Aug 2022, of all Android devices, v11 was the most popular Android version giving way to v12 rapidly.

However, Android 13 officially released on 15th Aug 2022 which is poised to quickly overtake older versions.

This article covers the key things you need to know about Android 13, in particular the biggest change to how notifications are handled which can have a significant impact on your business.

Push Notifications remain crucial to combat mobile app churn and retain users over time. Most businesses rightfully see mobile push as the most critical channel, so we wanted to dive into what has changed for Push Notifications in Android 13. We will also address how you should update your app to ensure you can continue to stay in touch with your Android users.

Android 13

What’s Android 13?

Android 13 is the latest iteration of Google’s mobile operating systems, bringing new features and improvements to Android phones and tablets. This latest version is available for some Android phones and is being progressively rolled out to other devices. Android 13 has been showing up on Pixel devices since August 15, 2022.

What Phones Can Use Android 13?

The new Android 13 version is already available for Pixel devices. The rollout for Pixel 4, 5, and 6 devices is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2022. And the later releases for Samsung, OnePlus, and other big names are expected to happen in late 2022 and trickle through to the first quarter of 2023.

The Pixel 7 will be the first Google device to run Android 13 from the ground up, and it’s expected to be available in October. Note, however, that Google has never been accurate with its estimates – especially when it comes to Android release dates. 

In short, we expect all Pixel devices to be running Android 13 within a month or two and all other devices by early 2023.

Android 13: What’s Changing the Most

This year, Android announced a significant change in notification permission behaviour. With Android 13, new users will soon have to opt-in to push notifications instead of just opting-out of notifications they don’t want to receive. This has significant implications for all Android apps, especially considering that it’s the world’s most widely used mobile operating system.

What’s Changing About Push Notification Permissions?

With the latest version, Android is moving away from opt-out push permission to an opt-in model, similar to iOS. As a result, newly installed apps will need their users’ approval before they can send notifications.

For eligible existing apps – those that haven’t been previously opted-out – the system will pre-grant notification permissions, and your customers won’t have to opt-in again. If a user has already opted-out, they’ll remain opted-out.

This change gives users more control over their notifications. However, it also means that you may lose newly acquired customers or see a drop in subscribers if you don’t adopt the associated best practices for Android 13.

How Will the Release Affect My App?

The Android 13 update will affect obtaining user permissions in two ways, depending on whether your app was already installed on the device or is new.

For New Mobile App Users

Users will be prompted to opt-in when they download the app for the first time after installing Android 13. There are three options to allow or deny push notifications:

They can select “Allow” to opt-in to push notifications 

They can select “Do not allow” to opt-out of push notifications. Then the platform will display the prompt again. 

And if the user swipes away or ignores the prompt, the app will continue to send push notifications until the user opens it and is prompted again.

For Existing Apps After the Release

With the new version, existing apps can temporarily use push notifications if enabled before the release. Depending on who makes the change for Android 13 first (the user or the app), the duration of use of this temporary permission may vary.

Updating existing and installed apps before Android 13 temporarily gives the green light for push notifications. The temporary permission works as follows:

When the app targets Android 13 and the system is updated, push notifications are temporarily allowed until the app is launched or opened for the first time. Then a permission request must be sent. If permission is not granted, the use of this channel is no longer possible.

If the app targets Android 12 or lower, it can send push notifications temporarily until the user explicitly selects an option in the system prompt (allow or deny). If the user rejects the prompt without choosing an alternative, the channel can continue to be used temporarily.

What Happens if I Don’t Modify My App?

Undoubtedly, there is some pressure on apps that operate in a competitive environment to send more notifications. However, there is a risk that high-frequency notifications will not improve the user experience but rather do the opposite. The key is to rely less on notifications and instead be strategic and rely on best practices.

Poor prompting practices can cause users to refuse push permission or even reflexively exit an app. The immediate prompt can often be perceived as intrusive or spammy.

Failure to obtain push permission at the beginning of a customer’s life cycle has significant implications for the rest of the life cycle. After the push prompting, best practices can improve push opt-in rates by up to 50%. If you don’t prepare for Android 13, you risk losing contact with many new signups that could otherwise become active users and buyers.

How to Prepare for Android 13 Changes

In preparation for the expected release of Android 13 soon, app developers need to set up their apps to get proper permissions from new users. If you don’t make the necessary changes, you risk losing customers with a bad first experience with your app.

Plan Ahead

As an app developer, you need to upgrade your libraries (e.g. SDK) for Android 13 and ensure that your product is compatible with the latest version as soon as possible. This upgrade will significantly impact your business, as delays of any kind can affect your ability to reach, monetise and retain users on Android. Underestimating the significance of this issue is the last thing you want.

Follow Best Practices for Obtaining Permissions

Users have become more selective about the type of communication they allow. Therefore, it’s important to delay the push permission process until users have a chance to explore your app and prompt them with an in-app message that conveys the unique benefit of subscribing.

Below are some best practices: 

Delay Your Opt-In Request: To protect your customers’ experience, don’t request permissions within seconds of the first session. This can be perceived as too aggressive and cause users to opt-out or leave your app altogether. Instead, delay your permission request until users have had a chance to explore your app and understand how notifications will improve their experience.

Develop a Proper Pre-Permission Prompt: Create a pre-permission prompt highlighting notifications’ value. To ensure a high opt-in rate, make users understand the importance of opting-in to notifications before invoking the native permission prompt. Refer to specific and exclusive use cases. 

For example, you can say, “We notify app users about exclusive, early access to new products,” emphasising that notifications enhance their experience with your product. This clarification helps your customers understand the value of messaging so they can make an informed decision about their experience.

If your users decline the pre-prompt or refuse push permission altogether, you’ll need to ask them to sign up again before sending them push notifications. That’s why a cross-channel approach is always best. If a user refuses push permission, you can always engage them through another channel, such as in-app purchases, email, or SMS.

New Android 13 Features

Now that we’ve sufficiently discussed the push notification permission changes let’s take a look at the notable Android 13 features and improvements made in the latest version. You can get more information on Google’s developer website.

  • More Customisation: Android 13 supports a broader range of colours in the theme options. Normally you can choose from four backgrounds and four primary colours, but in Android 13, there are 16.
  • Improved Copy & Paste: When you copy something in Android 13, a small floating box appears at the bottom of your screen that you can tap to edit the content. 
  • Enhanced Privacy; Applications installed on Android 13 require user permission to access various file types such as audio, images, and videos.
  • Better Tablet Support: Several changes in Android 13 are specifically designed to make life easier with larger screens.
  • Quick QR Code Scanner; In previous versions, scanning a QR code required installing a third-party app or using Google Assistant.
  • Improved Media Player: Android 13 features an updated media player that adapts to the music or podcast you’re listening to.
  • Smart-Home Controls on the Lock Screen: Smart home controls are now accessible from the lock screen without unlocking your phone. 
  • Double Tap for Flashlight: The Quick Tap feature on Pixel phones lets you double-tap the back of your phone to view your notifications or take a screenshot. 
  • Bluetooth LE Audio Support: With Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) audio and Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3) support, your device will consume less power and provide better audio quality for wireless earbuds, headphones, and other devices that support this technology.
  • Encrypted Group Chats: This has improved many things. For example, support for sharing pictures and texting over WiFi has been improved.
  • Multiple Languages for Apps: If you’re multilingual, you’ll be happy to know that you can now select different default languages for each app.
  • Better Battery Information & Performance: Android 13 improves the battery life of Android devices
  • UWB Support: Ultra-wideband (UWB) is a new technology that enables a mobile device to act as a car key and a lost device locator, and it helps improve Bluetooth connectivity and NFC.
Android 13

What’s Next? A Challenge or An Opportunity?

Although these changes to Android 13 present a technical challenge, they also offer an opportunity. Android notifications are moving to a newer and healthier dimension. 

Transitioning to this new landscape can cause some issues. For example, it could reduce your reach and significantly impact retention. The key to success is the prudent use of push pre-permission techniques.

The good news is that Google is making it easier for app publishers to prepare in advance so as not to cause too much disruption. Contact us today, and we will help you turn this challenge into a million-dollar opportunity. Our experts at BroadWeb can help you stay on top of Android 13 trends.

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