Six more new features coming to Android soon

It seems like Google IO was only yesterday, but Google has already announced new features coming to Android later this year. Although the June 15 announcement isn’t as groundbreaking as the Android 12 preview at its IO event, even little improvements can go a long way.

Android Earthquake alert system now available in more regions

The Android Earthquake Alerts System, previously released in New Zealand and Greece, is now available in Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Google Earthquake illustration.
Google Earthquake Alert uses multiple data points to detect earthquakes before they strike. Source: Google.

In addition to providing a warning about an imminent earthquake, the feature will also provide safety tips and help first responders locate the user faster.

Google said that it’s targeting countries with higher earthquake risks first and will launch the service in more countries over the coming year.

Star important messages in the Messages app

Android’s default messaging app will be getting the star feature. There isn’t much to explain here: once it rolls out in the coming weeks, users will be able to star messages and jump back to them without having to scroll through the entire conversation.

Starring a message in Google Messages
Like a message? Star it! Source: Google

Emoji Kitchen stickers will be contextually aware

Google’s Gboard keyboard received the Emoji Kitchen feature back in December 2020, allowing its users to mash together different emojis to express their mood better. Now, Gboard will show custom emojis according to context. No more wasting time scrolling through the creations and missing a golden moment to drop a god-tier emoji.

Emoji Kitchen combines combines two emojis together to form a new one
Emoji Kitchen slaps together two emojis for more expressive conversations. Source: Google

Context-aware Emoji Kitchen is currently in beta. It will arrive this summer in English, Spanish and Portuguese on devices running Android 6.0 and later.

Better password input and gaze detection on voice access

The Android Voice Access feature helps people with disabilities control their phones with just their voice. When Voice Access detects a password field, it will let users dictate their password letter by letter. It also recognizes special characters like dollar signs and capital letters.

Gaze input will enable the Google Assistant only if the user is looking at the screen. This feature is still currently in beta.

More customization options in Android Auto

Android Auto sets the phone into a special mode to improve navigation and remove distractions while driving. Android Auto now lets users tweak elements like the launch screen and dark mode in the new update. It also improves content browsing with new tabs in media apps and navigation options. Additionally, it boasts EV charging, parking and navigation apps, and access to popular messaging apps from the main screen.

The new Android Auto features are available now on phones running Android 6.0 and later.

Deeper app control with voice

Users can already launch apps using their voice through Google Assistant. Now, Google will be bringing the feature to a wider number of apps, although it did not say how many aside from mentioning Capital One and Strava.

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Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT World Canada. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at [email protected].

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