The next big Android update could make a classic phone feature much more useful

Google Pixel 6
A Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Future)

Later this year we're getting Android 13, and a potentially extremely useful new feature looks set to be included in it.

Mishaal Rahman (an editor at Esper) found a couple of telling API additions in Android 13 code, namely getTorchStrengthLevel and turnOnTorchWithStrengthLevel. These, as you can perhaps guess from their names, allow for the brightness of the flashlight on Android phones to be customized.

Right now, on most Android phones the torch is either on or off, with no ability to change how bright it gets, but based on these API additions it looks likely that this will change with Android 13.

Of course, you’ll still be limited by how bright the LED camera flash on your phone is actually capable of getting, which will vary from device to device, but you’ll at least have more granular control of a feature that we’d wager almost everyone uses.

That said, it looks like this Android update won’t be coming to every device that gets Android 13. In fact, it might only be available for phones that launch with Android 13 – not those that get updated to it.

That’s because the feature also appears to require an update to the camera hardware abstraction layer (HAL), but that’s not an update that will be required in order to run Android 13. In some cases, it will even be out of device makers’ hands, as chipsets would also need to be updated to work with this feature.

So don’t get too excited, as your current phone probably won’t have adjustable torch brightness, but your next one might.

Analysis: Android 13 might not be much of an upgrade

Adjustable torch brightness won’t be the only feature of Android 13 of course – which is good since it probably won’t come to many current phones, but it’s likely that there won’t be many other standout features.

There’s already a developer preview of Android 13, and while this won’t be feature-complete, it does provide some early clues of what to expect -though the answer appears to be 'not much', with the biggest feature so far being dynamic theming support for third-party app icons (so all the icons on the phone can fit with the theme you’ve chosen).

While it’s likely that more features will be present in the final Android 13 release, it’s so far looking like a small year for the software, and that makes sense – Android 12 was a big overhaul, so this could instead be a year focused on polish.

Via PhoneArena

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.