Google is bringing a range of extra features to Android, and you don’t have to wait for Android 12 to get them. The company announced a series of features across the Android system, with six main updates, so there’s a little something here for everyone.
The new features are starting to become available now, however, they’re coming out as part of separate app updates or Android updates, so you might get some before others.
First up is Google’s new Password Checkup feature on Android. Android can already store your passwords to more easily enter later down the line, and combine those passwords with those you store in Chrome. Now, like in Chrome, Android will tell you if one of your passwords has been exposed as part of a data breach. And, it will check new passwords against a list of known compromised passwords, and alert you so that you can use a different password instead. This feature will be coming to Android phones with Android 9 or newer. That’s most of us.
The second new feature could help you be a little more productive with your messages. Now, when you use Google’s own Messages app, you can write up a message and schedule it to send later. That’s perfect for messaging friends and family-on different time zones, for example. You’ll need the latest version of Google Messages to use this feature, and the update will come from the Google Play Store.
The third feature is an update to TalkBack, which is built for those with visual impairments. This new version of TalkBack is built to enable a full phone experience without the need to look at the phone screen. Included in the app is a new reading control menu, and the app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
Next up is an update to Google Assistant that is built to help users get more done on their phone using only their voice. Now, Google Assistant will show cards on your lock screen that can be read at a glance when it’s used. You can turn this feature on by heading to Assistant settings and turning on Lock Screen Personal Results.
Fifth is a new toggle in Google Maps that allows users to turn Dark Theme on or off in Maps when they want. Maps already matched Android’s Dark Theme, but now you can turn on “Always in Dark Theme” or “Always in Light Theme” when you want by heading to Maps’ settings. The feature is rolling out in the latest version of Google Maps.
Last but not least is an update to Android Auto that could make your drive a little more entertaining. Now, you can ask Google to play a game, like Jeopardy, using only your voice. Google is also adding shortcuts to the Android Auto lock screen, so you can quickly call contacts or remotely adjust the thermostat. And for cars with larger screens, as so many have today, a new interface paradigm will show a live map alongside media controls, replacing the current system of a bottom bar for controls (and likely following closely to the latest Apple CarPlay interface). This feature is rolling out to phones with Android Auto running Android 6 or later.