Google has developed six new features for Android (and Android Auto) that will make your phone safer and easier to use. These are available for fairly old phones, ones running Android 9 and even Android 6 in one instance. Here’s what’s new.
Password Checkup will let you know if your password was exposed
Google added the Password Checkup feature in Chrome back in 2019. Basically, Google keeps track of hacks that expose passwords – those passwords are now unsafe as hackers can easily try to use them to log in.
Now when you enter a password into an app using Autofill, you will get a warning if that password has leaked and instructions on what to do next. This feature is working on phones running Android 9 and above.
You can find more details about Password Checkup and how to activate it here.
The messages app can schedule texts
The Messages app has been updated (for phones running Android 7 and above) to support scheduling a text. You write your message in advance, pick a time when it should be sent and the app will take care of the rest.
To activate the feature, press and hold the Send button and you’ll see a popup that lets you pick a time and date. To be clear, you need to be running Google’s Messages app for this to work.
TalkBack makes Android accessible to blind and low vision users
TalkBack is Android’s screen reader. You can navigate the entire UI without looking at the screen by using spoken feedback and gestures. Google worked with blind and low vision communities to develop more intuitive gestures, a new reading control menu and more.
You can download the Android Accessibility Suite to get TalkBack.
The Google Assistant can take orders even if the phone is locked
The Google Assistant learned new skills and you can now use it even if the phone is locked. You can say things like “Hey Google, set an alarm” or “Hey Google, play pop music on Spotify.”
You can also enable the Lock Screen Personal Results feature in the Assistant, which will allow you to send texts and make calls with voice commands.
Google Maps gets a dark theme
Everything needs a dark mode – even Google Maps. You can activate it permanently by going into the app’s Settings (tap your account image in the upper right), then Theme and choosing “Always in Dark Theme”. “Always in Light Theme” is also available.
Android Auto makes better use of your car’s screen
Google added shortcuts to Android Auto’s launch screen for quick access to contacts. You can also ask the Assistant about the weather and then ask it to adjust the thermostat. Cars with wider screens gain split-screen multitasking of sorts – they can show Google Maps and music controls side by side. You can also adjust what appears on the car’s display by setting up a privacy screen.
There’s more. You can set wallpapers and if you get bored, you can play voice-based games like trivia and “Jeopardy!”. All of this is available on phones with Android 6.0 and newer.