Wednesday, October 5, 2022

New Android 13 patch fixes battery drain issue and more for Pixel phones

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Android 13 is getting its first update since its August launch by way of a Pixel security patch and a large amount of fixes for Android devices.

The September patch will affect several devices in the Pixel 4 series (the 4, 4 XL, 4a, and 4a 5G) as well as those in the Pixel 5 (the 5, 5a, and 5a 5G), and Pixel 6 (the 6 and 6 Pro) lines. According to Google (opens in new tab), the roll out begins today and will “continue over the next week in phases depending on carrier and device.” The update will also release to Pixel 6a devices later on in the month. Device owners will get a notification informing them to download the patch once it’s been made available.

Pixel updatesGoogle highlights four specific changes addressing problems with the battery and the biometrics on these Pixel phones. There were reports of the batteries rapidly draining (opens in new tab) after upgrading to Android 13. The blame is being place on “certain launcher background activities”, however the patch notes don’t go into detail what these background activities are. 

The update also addresses a problem that prevented wireless charging. Back in August, users on the Google Pixel subreddit suddenly found the wireless charging feature on their phone suddenly stopped working. A few found a workaround like pairing the Pixel Stand to the phone and hard rebooting the device, but it wasn’t a consistent fix.

For biometrics, Google improved “fingerprint recognition and response in certain conditions.” Some Pixel owners discovered (opens in new tab) a bug that would unlock the phone using a fingerprint not registered with the scanner. And in some instances, the scanner would accept the fingerprint of a completely different person. Needless to say, this was a major security flaw. 

As for the other two changes, the patch fixes a Bluetooth connectivity problem that prevented certain devices from connecting to Pixel phones and Google is making some adjustments to the user interface. Apparently, notifications would appear way shorter than it should on the lock screen.

Android fixesApart from the four Pixel specific updates, there are 51 additional fixes that will come out to all Android devices that address security vulnerabilities. This update will be released periodically throughout the rest of the month. 

Looking at the September Security Bulletin (opens in new tab) on the Android Open Source Project website, the fixes are split across two packages and concern bugs that range from moderate severity to critical.  One of the more important fixes will arrive in the first package, referred to as the September 1st security patch. According to the notes, there is a problem with the Android framework that could allow a bad actor to gain elevated access to a device’s resources without needing administrator permission.

For the second package, referred to as the September 5th security patch, it fixes some problems with certain third-party components like those from MediaTek and Qualcomm. The patch notes don’t go into deep detail what exactly is in the September 5th package. Instead it tells readers to look at the respective security bulletin webpages for these third-party components if they want details. 

Looking at the September bulletin for MediaTek (opens in new tab), the company’s patch appears to be focused on fixing improper validations that could give bad actors a similar elevated access on Android devices. For Qualcomm (opens in new tab), its update address the same vulnerabilities, while also fixing some memory corruption issues. 

So in total, Pixel owners are potentially looking at 55 security fixes coming to their device. If you’re interested in getting the various updates, Google has a set of instructions on how to update your phone (opens in new tab). 

And in case you weren’t aware, Google recently confirmed that the upcoming Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro smartphones will be revealed on October 6 in the Made By Google event. Be sure to check out TechRadar’s Pixel 7 coverage to learn more.

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity. 

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