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Android adding six new features focused on safety this summer

Android adding six new features focused on safety this summer

With summer heating up, the Android development team at Google LLC is adding six new features to its mobile operating system that focus on usability and safety.

Today the team announced an expansion to earthquake announcements, the Messages app, Emoji Kitchen, voice access, password input and greater customization for Android Auto – a hands-free mobile solution for Android phones and cars.

Android Earthquake Alerts System

The Android Earthquake Alerts System is designed to use technology in Android devices to create the world’s largest earthquake detection network that can warn Android users seconds before earthquakes strike. With that advance notice, users can get to safety and reduce the harm done to them and their families.

That system was recently expanded outside of the U.S. to New Zealand and Greece. Today, the Android Earthquakes Alerts System will expand to even more countries including Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The Android team will begin rolling out Alerts in the first half of 2022 with priority in countries with the highest earthquake risks first that also have the most significant number of people using Android phones with Google Play Services first. Then plans will be made for moderate earthquake risk countries and further onto a global rollout.

Messages app updates

Users can now highlight messages in the Messages app with stars so that important information doesn’t get lost in the quick bustle of scrolling conversations. Users need only tap and hold a message, then star it. It will then become possible to revisit that particular message at a later time by looking for the starred category.

Messages is also getting end-to-end encryption during one-on-one conversations when that feature is enabled by both participants.

Emoji Kitchen updates

Android’s Emoji Kitchen is a way for users to review the emojis that they use most often. Now the team has added contextual suggestions for those commonly used ones. This way users will get a greater variety of options after they’ve typed a message to find the best way to express themselves.

Contextual emojis are available in Gboard beta today (the Google keyboard) and will come to Gboard users this summer.

Voice access for apps

Updates to voice access will improve the way that users access their apps on the phone and by allowing them to ask Android to get right into an app and complete a task. For example, it’s possible to say something such as, “Hey Google, pay my Chase bill,” or “Hey Google, how many miles have I walked in Samsung Health” in order to see weekly progress.

Improved voice usability

It’s also now possible to set the phone to activate voice only when the phone detects the user is looking at the screen using Gaze Detection, now in beta. This way it won’t accidentally activate when it hears words similar to “Hey Google,” making it easier to work with so that it doesn’t just go off randomly during conversations.

Voice Access also now makes it possible for enhanced password input as well. When a password field is detected, it is now possible to speak out loud individual letters, numbers and symbols. As a result, users can say “capital P a s s w o r d” or names of symbols, for example, “dollar sign” in order to have it input “$” into the field, so it’s possible to speak a password out loud.

Android Auto updates

Users can now customize Android Auto for easier use, such as personalization such as setting the launcher from the phone, manually setting dark mode, new tabs across media apps and an “A to Z” button on the scroll bar.

The Android team has also added new app experiences for EV charging, parking and navigation apps. The dashboard display also now seamlessly integrates with messaging apps from the launcher screen allowing a seamless experience for reading messages directly from WhatsApp and Messages.

Image: Google

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