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New features coming to Android

Google has announced six new features coming to its Android operating system for mobile devices.

The first major addition is the integration of its Password Checkup tool on devices running Android version 9 and above.

The security feature – which is already available within Google Accounts and the Chrome browser – notifies users if their passwords were previously exposed in a data breach and accordingly makes recommendations on possible interventions.

“Now when you enter a password into an app on your phone using Autofill with Google, we’ll check those credentials against a list of known compromised passwords — that is, passwords that have potentially already been stolen and posted on the web,” Google stated.

If the user’s credentials are on one of these lists, Google will alert them and direct them to check and change their password.

Dark mode for Maps and scheduled messages

Fans of dark mode will also be glad to know that Google is expanding Dark Theme for the Maps app to all Android users globally.

At the moment, users are able to set the theme to change to dark when driving at night.

Now, you will be able to keep the darker colours on all the time, by selecting “Always in Dark Theme” under “Theme” in the Settings Menu.

Another noteworthy new feature is the ability to schedule messages for sending at a later time within Google’s Messages app for SMS, MMS, and RCS.

“With schedule send, you can compose a message ahead of time when it’s convenient for you, and schedule it to send at the right moment,” Google said.

After writing a message, the user can hold and press the send button to select a date and time for delivery of the message.

Users can download Messages or update the app to start using the feature, which will be available on Android 7 and newer.

TalkBack and Google Assistant improvements

Google has also enhanced its TalkBack screen reading accessibility app for blind persons or those who have trouble seeing their display.

The improvements include more intuitive gestures, a unified menu, a new reading control menu, and more.

“We worked closely with the blind and low vision communities on this revamp of TalkBack to incorporate the most popularly requested features,” Google said.

Furthermore, Google Assistant will now work even when the user’s phone is locked or across the room, with new cards that can be read with a glance.

These include phrases such as “Hey Google, set an alarm” or “Hey Google, play pop music on Spotify”.

Android Auto updates

Lastly, Google’s vehicle infotainment platform Android Auto is getting a range of updates.

Users will now be able to select a custom wallpaper from a variety of car-inspired backgrounds and play voice-activated games like trivia.

In addition, shortcuts will now be available on the home screen, allowing for easier and quicker access to contacts and tasks which can be performed by Google Assistant, such as checking the weather or changing the thermostat.

Google said these features will be available “in the coming days” on smartphones running Android 6.0 or above when connected to a compatible car.

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