Google’s already announced its latest Pixel feature drop this week, and today it’s back with another announcement of some more new features, this time for Android as a whole. These six new things aren’t limited to Pixels, they’re headed to all Android devices out there. It’s the first time the company has done something like this – collating a bunch of upcoming features into one announcement post, clearly inspired by the way Pixel feature drops are revealed.
Okay, introduction aside, let’s jump right into what you can expect. First, the Android Earthquake Alerts System is rolling out globally. People in affected areas can get alerts seconds before an earthquake hits. So far this has been available in New Zealand and Greece, and now it’s headed to Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Google says it’s prioritizing launching this in countries with higher earthquake risks, and more countries will have it over the coming year.
Next up, you can now star a message in the Messages app to easily find it later. Just tap and hold on the message, and then pick the star. That’s it. There’s also a new Starred category holding all of these for you. This feature “will start to roll out more broadly over the coming weeks”.
Contextual Emoji Kitchen suggestions are available in Gboard beta today and will reach the stable version of the keyboard app “this summer” for messages written in English, Spanish, and Portuguese on devices running Android 6 and above. The suggestions will help you discover the perfect emoji combination once you’ve typed a message, something that goes with what you wrote of course.
Google Assistant can now take you to specific places inside apps, so you can tell it stuff like “hey Google pay my Capital One bill” to jump right into the app and complete that task. For a full list of what’s possible, say “hey Google, shortcuts”.
Voice Access now has gaze detection in beta, so you can ask the feature to work only when you’re looking at the screen. Voice Access gives you quick and efficient phone and app navigation with just your voice. It’s also got enhanced password input too. When it recognizes a password field, it lets you input letters, numbers, and symbols.
Finally, the Android Auto experience is more customizable. You can personalize your launcher screen from your phone and manually set dark mode. It’s easier to browse content too, with new tabs in media apps, a “back to top” option, and an A to Z button in the scroll bar. If you’re setting up Android Auto for the first time, that process is now faster.
EV charging, parking, and navigation apps are now available to use in Android Auto as well, and the messaging experience has ben improved so you can get to your favorite messaging apps from the launcher screen. You can read and send new messages directly from WhatsApp and Messages, globally. The Android Auto features are available on phones with Android 6 and newer, when connected to a compatible car.