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New Android features let you star messages, make an emoji blob, and more

16 June 2021 0

Google has announced a bunch of new features for Android phones. The set of features isn’t limited to Pixel phones and will land on all Android phones. Some features aren’t entirely new and were introduced earlier but they are now expanding further and reaching more phones.

Android Earthquake Alerts System

Android Earthquake Alerts System

To start with, we have Android Earthquake Alerts System. Google announced this feature almost a year back in the US. It later expanded the feature to New Zealand and Greece in April this year. Now, the same feature is expanding further to reach more countries. Google announced the Android Earthquake Alerts System is coming to Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Google also mentioned that it is prioritizing the rollout of the feature in more countries where the risk of getting earthquakes is higher. To the uninitiated ones, the feature uses an accelerometer in your Android phone to detect earthquakes. The feature can alert you seconds before an earthquake hits. It is worth mentioning that the Android Earthquake Alerts System is available on devices running Android 5.0 and above.

Messages app update

Next up is the starring your messages in the Messages app. Google has rolled out the ability to star important messages in your conversations. Just tap and hold the message and then star it. So, if you want to revisit all those important messages you have starred before, you just have to tap on the starred category. This feature was first seen during a teardown of the Messages app last month. It is great to see that the feature has finally landed. Most messaging apps have this feature already and the Google Messages app has received it quite late.

This feature "will start to roll out more broadly over the coming weeks".

Updates to Gboard

Gboard update

Also, the Gboard update has introduced a new feature to the Emoji Kitchen and that is emoji suggestions based on the messages you type. This way the users will be able to pick a relevant emoji based on the messages they are typing. These new suggestions of emojis will also be mixed with blobs. Yes, the emoji blobs are back, thanks to the latest Gboard update. Google didn’t announce the comeback of the blobs and rather hid it in plain sight in the example given in the announcement. Contextual Emoji Kitchen suggestions are available in Gboard beta today will be rolled out to all Gboard users this summer for messages written in English, Spanish, and Portuguese on devices running Android 6.0 and above.

Talk to your favorite apps with Google Assistant on Android

The fourth feature upgrades the way we interact with installed apps. Back in October last year, Google announced that the voice commands will work with your favorite Android apps too. You can open apps or search within the apps by mere Google Assistant voice commands. For instance, you can ask Google Assistant, “Hey Google, search cozy blankets on Etsy.” Now, this functionality has received an update, according to which you can do allow Google Assistant to do more specific tasks within the apps. For instance, you can say “Hey Google, pay my Capital One bill.” So, Google Assistant will not only open the app but also perform the asked task.

Android Auto experience improved

Google is also letting you customize your Android Auto experience. You can now personalize your launcher screen from your phone and manually set dark mode. According to Google, it is now easier to browse content with the new tabs in your media apps, a “back to top” option, and an A to Z button in the scroll bar. Google also announced that getting started with Android Auto for a first-time user has also been improved.

Android Auto

Furthermore, EV charging, parking, and navigation apps are now available to use in Android Auto as well. The messaging experience has also been improved so you can get to your favorite messaging apps from the launcher screen. The Android Auto features are available on phones with Android 6 and newer when connected to a compatible car.

Improved Password Input and gaze detection on Voice Access

Also, Voice Access now has gaze detection in beta. You can ask the feature to work only when you’re looking at the screen. It’s also goy enhanced password input too. When it recognizes a password field, it lets you input letters, numbers, and symbols.


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