As we're on the eve of Google IO 2022, Android 13 has seen a public beta, and it includes hints towards Google's own take on Handoff, a feature that first appeared on Apple devices.
Handoff (opens in new tab) allows you to carry on using the same app as you switch between different Apple devices. This can be Safari, a music track, or a podcast, as long as you're signed in with the same Apple ID account. But Continuity (opens in new tab) lets you carry on in using a feature on a different Apple device, such as taking a photo and seeing it on your Mac.
While Google enables you to sync up your bookmarks and purchases when you sign into Android or ChromeOS, the same can't be said for when you're browsing a web page, or midway through listening to a Spice Girls track or watching The Batman again.
There's hints towards this already called Tap to Transfer in the Android 13 public beta build, but there's no confirmation from Google as yet. With this in mind, this is why Handoff should be one of the tentpole features in Android 13, with room to expand to other Google devices.
Hand on, hand off
I've been an Apple user ever since I bought a third-generation iPod back in 2004. I switched my PC for one of the first Intel iMac models, and I imported the first iPhone in 2007.
Throughout this, I've always appreciated the features where I could manage my content across the devices, without having to do the old-fashioned method of emailing it to myself.
With Continuity and Hand Off, these features allow me to transfer my workflow from my iPhone 13 Pro, to my MacBook Pro 14-inch with no issue.
But there are users who only own Google devices - whether that's owning both a Pixelbook and a Pixel 6, or a Google Nest and a Fitbit. But managing and sending your data and content between these devices currently isn't easy as Apple's method, and in 2022 that's not good.
Android 13 looks set to include a feature that alleviates some of this, tentatively called ‘TTT’ or Tap to Transfer.
From an early build in January, you could send the media you’re either watching or listening to on an Android 13 device, to a device that could be nearby.
But it should be much more. Being able to transfer your music from your Pixel 6 to a Chrome web browser should be simpler, alongside being able to carry on listening to a track in Google Play Music that's on your OnePlus 10 Pro, onto a Pixelbook.
It's time for Google to realize that ease of use for devices matters. While its recent efforts with Material You, the redesigned themes for Android have been received warmly, there's still more work to do.
As more products appear (and more are seemingly on the way, with one rumored to be the Pixel Watch) seeing more cohesion across devices will be more important than ever. Being given more control over your content on the devices you own will be appealing to many, and it looks as though Android 13 is the first sign of Google being aware of this.
It's now a matter of whether the same feature is not only going to appear on the rest of its product line, but whether the feature is better than what Apple's take has been for the last few years.