What you need to know
- Android is introducing updates for several of its apps and services.
- Google Messages is gaining the option to schedule messages and dark mode is rolling out for Google Maps.
- More features include TalkBack and Android Auto improvements, as well as an expanded Password Checkup to monitor for compromised passwords.
Google is preparing to bring a suite of new features with Android 12, which has just entered its first Developer Preview. While we try to dig into some of the features that Google is working on for its next major release, the company is also releasing updates to individual apps and services that users can take advantage of now. It's similar to a Feature Drop that Google pushes out to its own devices like the Google Pixel 5, but the best part is that you don't need to have the best Android phones to take advantage of many of these new updates.
The first update comes to Google Messages. While Google figures out how to get users to adopt its messaging app, the company continues adding features that should make it more useful for those that do use it. With the latest update coming to Google Messages, users are now able to schedule when their messages will be sent.
By holding the send button, users can select from three available options or set their own date and time for the message to go through. This is particularly useful when messaging people in different time zones or if you don't wanna disturb someone with a random thought in the middle of the night.
Google recently introduced a new password manager for Chrome, making it easier for users to check for compromised passwords. Google is now extending this feature to your Android apps using Autofill. This way, when you enter your login information using autofill, Google will warn you if you need to update your password.
To enable this, navigate to System > Languages & input > Advanced and select Autofill to make sure services are enabled. You can find out more about this feature in Google's Security Blog.
Android Auto is getting some new useful features as well, some of which have already been spotted. Google is highlighting features like new wallpapers and shortcuts for contacts and Google Assistant Routines. Users can also ask to play voice games like Jeopardy simply by saying "Hey Google, play a game."
Some Android Auto displays will also support split-screen so you can view your navigation and music controls at the same time. And for added privacy, users can now set when Android Auto appears on the screen in case there are passengers.
Google is rolling out a new version of TalkBack, which is a service that helps Android users who are blind or have a difficult time seeing by reading off different elements on the display. With this new version, Google is implementing improved navigation with easy-to-remember multi-finger gestures, new voice commands, and a simplified settings menu. A simple swipe up can summon voice commands to easily control TalkBack, and Google is even adding Arabic and Spanish to the braille keyboard.
Lastly, Google is making it easier to access Google Assistant from your lock screen by turning on Lock Screen Personal Results in the Assistant settings. Google Maps is also getting a new dark theme to make it a bit easier on the eyes for some, which you can toggle in the settings.
Some of these features should be available today or will be rolling out in the coming days. You can head over to Google's blog post for more information on these features.