Google Pixel 6a owners just got a major free Android upgrade

Android 13 has rolled out for Google Pixel 6a customers, following the Pixel 6 & 6 Pro rollout earlier this month

Google Pixel 6A review
(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

As a Pixel 6a user, I received a most welcome email from Google today with the heading 'Get even more from your Pixel'. So what's that all about?

Following on from the rollout of Android 13 for earlier Pixel devices, including the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the operating system upgrade wasn't initially available for the Pixel 6a (as Google attested (opens in new tab)). But that's all just changed. 

As I type this I'm watching my Pixel 6a 'installing security update' on an Android 13 update page, which details the promise of cool new features that Pixel 6a owners, such as myself, will be set to receive as part of the upgrade. 

I should have checked sooner, but I've been too busy dabbling in iPhone 14 and Motorola Edge 30 Ultra launches, but the Android 13 update on the Pixel 6a is likely to lure me back to that great affordable phone in the near future (well, if the Pixel 7 Pro doesn't take over my world, which is even more likely come October).

So what exactly will the Android 13 update bring to the Pixel 6a? There are a whole host of features, so here's five of the more prominent ones to look forward to:

Google Pixel 6A review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

1. Themed app icons

Personalisation is core to Android 13. Indeed it's probably the biggest take-away of this version. It now includes expanded themed app icons to match wallpaper colours, including non-Google apps to ensure a unified look that's not been possible before now. 

2. New app notification controls

There's more granular control over apps too, including the ability to state when a given app can send notifications. That'll be ideal for downtime and periods of quiet.

You can also  stream messaging apps directly to a Chromebook, although this is one feature I probably won't be using!

3. More security with photo selections

You no longer have to share your entire media library with your apps, meaning you can instead select only  specific photos and videos. That's great for privacy and additional security. 

4. New media player!

At Google I/O 2022 this was one of the biggest visual features that Google showed off around Android 13: the all-new media player. 

It includes album artwork and a new playback bar, the latter which Google describes as 'fun' – that's because it now 'dances' to the beat. 

5. Multi-lingual app support

There are new APIs for app developers in Androi 13, meaning better support for multiple languages. That means the ability to assign different languages to different apps, should you be multi-lingual and want to switch keyboard types and default languages in specific apps.

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike has been writing about consumer technology for 15 years and is T3's Tech Editor. As a phones expert he's seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a full decade, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.