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Google releases beta version of Android 13 'Tiramisu'

Chocolate Factory's latest mobile code confection refines permissions and error reporting

Google on Tuesday released the first beta version of Android 13, the next iteration of its mobile operating system.

Referred to internally as "Tiramisu," the beta release follows a Developer Preview that debuted in February.

Android 13 features a new runtime permission for sending notifications from an app, a system photo picker for sharing photos and videos securely with apps, themed app icons, and better localization, among other things.

The beta release adds more specific permissions for accessing media files. Previously, when trying to read locally stored media files, Android requested the READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission. That granted access to everything. The new permissions are more precise: READ_MEDIA_IMAGES, READ_MEDIA_VIDEO, and READ_MEDIA_AUDIO.

The beta also adds better error reporting for Keystore, used for storing cryptographic keys, and KeyMint, used for generating them. This takes the form of Android-specific exceptions with Keystore/KeyMint error codes and details about whether the error is retryable.

"The improved error reporting should now give you what you need to retry key generation," said Dave Burke, VP of engineering, in a blog post.

On Monday, Google Cloud added a new service called Media CDN, a content delivery network for streaming media that relies on the infrastructure supporting YouTube to reduce latency.

"Media CDN includes out-of-the-box support for QUIC (HTTP/3), TLS 1.3, and BBR, optimizing for last-mile delivery," explained Shailesh Shukla, VP and GM of networking at Google Cloud in a blog post. "When the Chrome team rolled out widespread support for QUIC, video rebuffer time decreased by more than 9 per cent and mobile throughput increased by over 7 per cent."

Media CDN, available on Google Cloud, on-premises, or in a third-party cloud, also boasts "industry-leading offload rates," meaning that it has multiple tiers of caching to rapidly respond to requests for even rarely accessed content and to minimize calls to the origin server.

In addition, Android 13 beta includes anticipatory audio routing, which is a way of letting media apps know in advance how audio will be routed in order to improve responsiveness. This takes the form of route APIs in the AudioManager class to fetch a list of devices that can play specific audio and to tell whether a stream can be played directly.

Beta releases are expected to continue through this summer, with platform stability planned as soon as June. Burke urged Android developers to test their apps for Android 13 compatibility.

Also on Monday, boffins from Google, Open Robotics, and Northwestern University published a paper announcing Google Scanned Objects, "an open-source collection of over one thousand 3D-scanned household items released under a Creative Commons license."

The models are intended to be used in the Ignition Gazebo and Bullet simulators, or other applications that can ingest SDF models.

While images are widely available online, "the web does not contain a large population of high-quality 3D scenes, real-world data collection is challenging as robots are expensive and dangerous, and human labelers cannot extract 3D geometric properties from images," the research paper explains.

The goal of the project is to simplify the creation of robotics simulations, where handcrafted models often fail to respond the way real objects would because the models are poorly made. Google Scanned Objects aims to provide a library of high-quality 3D objects that can be dropped into simulations for various forms of deep learning.

Android 13 should be released in late September or early October, about a year after Android 12 launched. ®

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