22 February 2021
Google has released some new features to your Android phones as part of Android feature updates for spring 2021. Some of the features aren’t completely new, but it is good to see them expand even further.
There are a total of six feature updates that Google has introduced via a blog post.
The first one is Password Checkup that lets you know if the password you used has been previously exposed and what to do about it. The feature will check your password against the list of compromised passwords and if there is a match, it will alert you about it and suggest you change the password right away.
The feature does the checkup at the time when you log in to any app enabled with autofill service. When you choose to go with Google’s Autofill feature while login into other apps, the feature in Chrome checks if your credentials were compromised before. A message box will pop up telling you about the compromise. The message will read “Change your password,” followed by a brief description – “a data breach on a site or app exposed your password. Google recommends changing your password on App now.” The Password Checkup feature is integrated into Android 9 and above devices.
Next up is text scheduling in Messages. Google has introduced this feature in order to improve text messaging on phones. As the name implies, you can schedule when your message should be sent to the receiver. You just have to compose a message ahead of time and schedule it to send at the right moment. While this feature can have multiple applications, Google particularly points out the time-zone problem that might cause trouble to users residing in different zones. Schedule send in Messages feature is rolling out to phones running Android 7 and newer.
Google wants its digital assistant to be more helpful to you and this is why it keeps on updating it and adds new capabilities. Now, the latest feature update brings more improvements as well. Google wants its digital assistant to work more like a smart speaker. That’s why it is now allowing Google Assistant to work even when the phone is locked. As illustrated by Google in its blog post, you can use Google Assistant to send a text, even when your phone is locked. Just say, “Hey Google, send message to [contact name]” even when you are across the room. Just turn on Lock Screen Personal Results in the Assistant setting and say “Hey Google” followed by the commands you already ask it to do when the phone is unlocked.
Dark theme in Google Maps will soon expand to all Android users globally. The feature was previously seen in testing and Google teased it back in October 20219 as well. Just go to Settings > Theme> Always in Dark Theme.
Google’s Android Auto is also getting a feature update. It adds wallpaper support, just what recently caught our attention as well. You can choose from a variety of car-inspired backgrounds to personalize your car display. You can also play voice-activate games like trivia and “Jeopardy!” Just say “Hey Google, play a game” and get started.
Google has also introduced Shortcuts on the launch screen to let you quickly access a few things like checking the weather or selecting contacts. These Android Auto features will be available in the coming days on phones running Android 6.0 or above. You have to have a connected car for it.
Google is also updating TalkBack, an accessibility feature for users who have trouble seeing their phone’s display. Google says it is adding intuitive gestures, a unified menu, a new reading control menu, and more after taking feedback from so many low-vision communities. Google says the new version of TalkBack opens up a full phone experience without needing to look at your screen.
The new updates will be available in the coming days and weeks.