Skip to main content

Google just added 6 great features to Android, from security to accessibility

Google is bringing a range of extra features to Android, and you don’t have to wait for Android 12 to get them. The company announced a series of features across the Android system, with six main updates, so there’s a little something here for everyone.

The new features are starting to become available now, however, they’re coming out as part of separate app updates or Android updates, so you might get some before others.

First up is Google’s new Password Checkup feature on Android. Android can already store your passwords to more easily enter later down the line, and combine those passwords with those you store in Chrome. Now, like in Chrome, Android will tell you if one of your passwords has been exposed as part of a data breach. And, it will check new passwords against a list of known compromised passwords, and alert you so that you can use a different password instead. This feature will be coming to Android phones with Android 9 or newer. That’s most of us.

The second new feature could help you be a little more productive with your messages. Now, when you use Google’s own Messages app, you can write up a message and schedule it to send later. That’s perfect for messaging friends and family-on different time zones, for example. You’ll need the latest version of Google Messages to use this feature, and the update will come from the Google Play Store.

The third feature is an update to TalkBack, which is built for those with visual impairments. This new version of TalkBack is built to enable a full phone experience without the need to look at the phone screen. Included in the app is a new reading control menu, and the app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

Next up is an update to Google Assistant that is built to help users get more done on their phone using only their voice. Now, Google Assistant will show cards on your lock screen that can be read at a glance when it’s used. You can turn this feature on by heading to Assistant settings and turning on Lock Screen Personal Results.

Fifth is a new toggle in Google Maps that allows users to turn Dark Theme on or off in Maps when they want. Maps already matched Android’s Dark Theme, but now you can turn on “Always in Dark Theme” or “Always in Light Theme” when you want by heading to Maps’ settings. The feature is rolling out in the latest version of Google Maps.

Last but not least is an update to Android Auto that could make your drive a little more entertaining. Now, you can ask Google to play a game, like Jeopardy, using only your voice. Google is also adding shortcuts to the Android Auto lock screen, so you can quickly call contacts or remotely adjust the thermostat. And for cars with larger screens, as so many have today, a new interface paradigm will show a live map alongside media controls, replacing the current system of a bottom bar for controls (and likely following closely to the latest Apple CarPlay interface). This feature is rolling out to phones with Android Auto running Android 6 or later.

Editors' Recommendations

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
The best mobile games of 2022: 6 must-download titles from a shockingly great year
A character from Lucky Luna stands in front of text that says 2022 Best Mobile Games.

Mobile games have a bad reputation due to many games on the platform utilizing overwhelming microtransactions and other questionable features meant to squeeze the most play time and money out of players. Despite that, plenty of awesome games still emerge on mobile platforms -- ones that don't use those practices at all. In fact, 2022 was a fantastic year for gaming as companies like Netflix and Apple continued to invest heavily in the space with more traditional video games.

As such, those who write off mobile gaming might have missed some truly great games that came out this year. If you're looking for some new mobile games to play when you're bored or need to kill some time, we recommend giving the following six 2022 standouts a shot.
Marvel Snap (iOS, Android)

Read more
Update your Google Pixel 7 now for three big security and audio features
Google Pixel 7 home screen with rainbow gradient wallpaper in light

Every few months, Google releases Feature Drops with new features and fixes for its Pixel phones. While 2022 may be nearly over, that hasn't stopped Google from pushing one final Feature Drop before the year ends.

This latest Feature Drop is primarily focused on adding features to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro that Google announced in October when it first unveiled the phones. The first big addition is free Google One VPN access. Anyone with a Pixel 7 or 7 Pro can use a Google One-powered VPN at no additional cost — this is great for more secure web browsing. Considering Google's VPN is traditionally only available with a $10-per-month Google One subscription, it's a nice value add we're happy to see.

Read more
Google Pixel 7a could add three huge features over the Pixel 6a
The Google Pixel 6a laying on top of the Google Pixel 6.

The Google Pixel 6a had good cameras, an average display with a 60Hz refresh rate, and more. While the $449 device was among the better ones in the segment, Google is working to further improve its successor. The Google Pixel 7a could add a new camera sensor for improved photography, a 90Hz refresh rate, and wireless charging to the feature list.

According to Tweets from Kuba Wojciechowski, who has reported correct information in the past, the Pixel 7a is code-named "Lynx." He discovered all the new information by digging into the camera drivers. Wojciechowski found that "Lynx" is a midrange smartphone and its camera setup is called "Pixel 22 Mid-range." He also found that the reference to GN1, which was a moniker used for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro's Samsung sensor, has been removed.

Read more