Android 13 beta includes an important new privacy protection

The Android 13 logo with the Android robot behind
(Image credit: Google / TechRadar)

With the release of the first public beta (opens in new tab) of Android 13, anyone with a compatible Pixel smartphone (opens in new tab) can download the next version of Android and test it out for themselves.

Scheduled for release at the end of this summer, Android 13 (opens in new tab) is built around Google’s core themes of privacy and security, developer productivity as well as tablet and large screen support according to a new blog post (opens in new tab) from the company’s VP of engineering Dave Burke.

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There have already been two developer previews of Android 13 which showcased new features including support for Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Audio, a new photo picker, new app ion theming options and a new permission designed to cut down the amount of notifications that appear on Android smartphones (opens in new tab).

Following feedback from Android 13’s first public beta, we’ll likely learn more regarding Google’s full plans for the update at the company’s annual Google I/O (opens in new tab) developer conference in May.

Granular media permissions

To help protect against apps accessing photos, audio files and other media on your smartphone without good reason, Google is introducing more granular permissions for media file access in Android 13.

Previously when an app wanted to read shared media files on your device’s local storage, it would request the READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission which gave it access to all types of media files. Now in the Android 13 public beta, Google is introducing a new set of permissions with more granular scope for accessing shared media files according to Burke’s blog post.

Going forward, apps will now use READ_MEDIA_IMAGES for images and photos, READ_MEDIA_VIDEO for videos and READ_MEDIA_AUDIO for audio files. When a user grants one of these permissions to an app, the app will only have read access to the respective media file types.

However, to simplify the experience for end users, if an app requests permissions to access a device’s images and videos at the same time, Android 13 will display a single dialog for granting both permissions.

Restricting media file access in this way could help protect your privacy by preventing apps from accessing additional files that they don’t necessarily need to in order to function.

Via The Verge (opens in new tab)

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.