The shortcut in the quick settings panel that launches a dedicated viewfinder. In my brief testing, this was not only super speedy, as Android Police pointed out, but it’s much easier to use. Instead of having to open your camera, aim it at a code and try to hit the tiny little Chrome bar that pops up, you can just point this new scanner in the direction of the symbol and it latches on instantly. A box pops up at the bottom with an “Open” button that’s larger and much easier to tap, and the viewfinder closes, instead showing a picture of the code you just snapped. That means you’ll no longer have to hold your phone steady to keep the code in view while using your other hand to tap the tiny, tiny link.
This is definitely a more convenient way to scan QR codes, which have become more prevalent during the pandemic, with many businesses using them to serve up contactless menus. But I will say that, on very rare occasions where you are aiming for one particular code out of a few, this version of the scanner is trickier to handle. Since it immediately snaps a photo of the first QR code it sees, you’ll have to wrangle it a bit to get the one you actually want.
Some other changes include new Material You themes and improvements to app suggestions in the large-screen friendly L version. You can now choose from about 12 more color palettes automatically generated from your wallpaper to apply throughout the system.
Though Android Police reports that the lock screen shortcut to access Android’s page of smart home device controls can now be accessed without unlocking your device, this wasn’t true for me. I was still asked to enter my pin when I tried to turn on my living room lights from my Pixel 4a. But this could be a bug and it might be working for other beta users.
All told, there were surprisingly more user-facing changes in Android 13 beta 1 than I had expected, and I’ll need some time to dig around for things we may have missed. But I still wouldn’t recommend anyone other than the most eager early adopter to install it — unless you scan dozens of QR codes a day. For now, it’s still too early to tell what Android 13 will look like, but it’s nice to see Google is working on some thoughtful new features at least.