There’s good news when you have an Android smartphone in your pocket. Google just announced a number of new features that should land on devices in the coming months. The upgrades are intended to improve the everyday experience with your handset and increase security.
Google published a blog post with six new blockbuster changes to be rolled out to users worldwide. Perhaps the best part about it is the ability to schedule a text message to be sent. With this update, you can basically turn down a message and then decide when to send it.
According to Google, users can take advantage of this feature by writing a message, then holding and pressing the Send button to select a date and time for delivery. To use scheduled texts, you need to download messages or update to the latest version. Afraid of looking too sharp if you answer right away … but don’t you want to forget to answer in the first place? This could be the solution.
Next, there’s an important change to how you save passwords on your phone. It’s nothing new that Android users can save passwords in their Google accounts so they don’t have to remember them all the time.
However, there is now a neat update that notifies users instantly if their passwords have been compromised.
When someone enters a password into an app on their phone using Google Autofill, the company verifies that credentials against a list of known compromised passwords – those that may have already been stolen and posted on the internet. When the credentials appear in one of these lists, Google will send a notification with helpful instructions on how to check passwords and change them to new ones.
Another new feature introduced as part of these changes is that Google Maps will get a dark mode. This should take some strain off the eyes when navigating from A to B. If you’re using a phone with an OLED screen like the iPhone 12 or the Galaxy S21, it can potentially save battery life too. This is due to the way OLED panels work, which does not require a power supply to display deep black shades of black.
Those who want to enable Google Maps Dark mode can go to Settings, then Theme, and then tap Always in Dark Theme.
For those who are fans of their phones in the car, there is more exciting news. Google has updated its Android Auto service with new features to help users enjoy the drive better. With custom wallpapers, users can now choose from a variety of car-inspired backgrounds to personalize the car’s display. For longer journeys, passengers can use new voice-activated games such as Trivia and “Jeopardy!” Also stay entertained. Just say “Hey Google, play a game” to get started.
Google also says it launched shortcuts on the home screen. These provide convenient access to contacts and even allow the assistant to perform tasks such as checking the weather or setting the thermostat remotely by simply tapping the icon on the display.
For cars with wider displays, there is a split-screen option that offers a real-time view of Google Maps and media controls. And when you’re out with family and friends, you can now control a privacy screen so messages don’t appear in front of everyone else.
These Android Auto features will be available in the coming days on phones running Android 6.0 or higher and when connected to your compatible car.
The last two upgrades include improvements to the Google Assistant, which now works better even when your phone is locked and there is a new version of TalkBack – Android’s screen reader.
For those who are blind or have trouble seeing the display, TalkBack makes Android more accessible and opens up a full phone experience without looking at the screen.