This week Google is rolling out several new features to Android ahead of the Android 12 release coming later this fall. Just in time for summer, Android is getting starred messages, contextual emoji, additional voice controls, and more.
Some of these new features got announced back at Google I/O 2021, while others we’ve seen in teasers but are now finally here or coming soon. Keep in mind that some of these are rolling out today or in the next week, while others say “later this summer.” Either way, all of these will arrive soon enough.
New Android Features Coming This Summer
- Starred Messages (favorite messages to easily find later)
- Expanding earthquake detection to more regions
- Better and more contextual Emoji suggestions
- More voice controls in 3rd party apps
- Improved password input and gaze detection on Voice Access
- Customization and Dark Mode toggle in Android Auto
While most users are patiently waiting for the Android 12 release later this year, Google isn’t. Today, the company has continued to add or expand features that will improve Android as a whole before the next big software update.
First off is starred messages, or the ability to bookmark messages in Google Messages. This is a hugely popular feature that’s been missing for far too long. Now, you can easily find important texts with an address, Wi-Fi password, photos, or other things without scrolling forever through a conversation.
Expanding Earthquake Detection
Lately, Google’s been rolling out a new earthquake alert and detection system that uses all the Android devices around the world, and it’s expanding to more regions. Android’s Earthquake Alerts System is available in seven more markets: Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Plus, Google promises that “most countries” will get it by 2022. We love this feature as it sends time-sensitive earthquake alerts right to phones, and in areas that don’t have detectors, some users can choose to let their phone double as a detector to help track into, alert others, and potentially save lives.
Emoji Kitchen Improvements
Starting today, Gboard has an even better selection of mashup Emoji stickers that are more contextual and helpful. That way, your keyboard can suggest emojis for you better than before.
Now when you type something in Gboard, hit the emoji button and you’ll see paired emoji stickers that are contextual, based on what you type, that are more conversational and expressive.
Better App Voice Controls, Gaze Detection, and Voice Access
Users can also expect to see improved voice control support for 3rd party apps. Letting you use your voice to launch, control, or open to specific areas of apps. We’ve seen something similar from Google in the past, but it looks like this is about to get way better. Try saying, “Hey Google, pay my Synchrony Bank bill,” to jump right into the app and complete the task. Google also improved the gaze detection and password options for Accessibility users.
Android Auto Dark Mode Toggle
Next, it looks like Google is ready to push out some huge changes to Android Auto. The biggest one, personally, is the option to manually toggle the dark mode on or off instead of it happening automatically. Then, Google added new tabs in media apps, a “back to top” option, and an A to Z button in the scroll bar for easy software navigation. That way, you can do things quickly and keep your eyes on the road.
And finally, the messaging experience on Android Auto is better, too, starting today around the globe. You can now read and sent messages directly from third-party apps like WhatsApp and Messages, and hopefully more in the future.
Expect to see several new features or expansions today, this week, or later this summer.