Google Brings More Features to Android

Posted on February 23, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 13 Comments

Android users won’t need to wait for Android 12 to get new functionality: Google announced several new features today, and they work on Android 6 and newer.

“It wasn’t all that long ago that we introduced Android users to features like Emoji Kitchen and auto-narrated audiobooks,” Google’s Hideaki Oshima writes. “But we like to stay busy, so today we’re highlighting six of the latest Google updates that will make Android phones more secure and convenient — for everyone.”

Those features are:

Password Checkup. Originally available in Chrome, Google’s Password Checkup feature is now built directly into Android too, so you can easily learn if any of your passwords has been previously exposed and what to do about it.

Scheduled send in Messages. The Android messaging app, called Messages, can now be used to send scheduled messages. Just write the message normally and then press and hold on the Send button to select a date and time for the message delivery.

TalkBack. The new version of the Android screen reader, called TalkBack, is now available, making Android more accessible. “We worked closely with the blind and low vision communities on this revamp of TalkBack to incorporate the most popularly requested features including more intuitive gestures, a unified menu, a new reading control menu, and more,” Oshima says.

Google Assistant improvements. Google Assistant has been improved to support more hands-free functionality for making calls, setting timers and alarms, and playing music.

Google Maps improvements. Google Maps finally supports a dark theme.

Android Auto improvements. Android Auto now supports custom wallpapers, new voice-activated games, contacts and Assistant shortcuts on the home screen, split-screen capabilities, and a new privacy screen feature.

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Google Brings More Features to Android”

  1. derekaw

    Split-screen?! Finally!

  2. dftf

    I'm not sure what the big news is here -- aside from the password-checkup, none of the other features should be tied to a specific Android OS release anyway, as they are all decoupled apps. "Messages", "Android Accessibility Suite" (which includes TalkBack), "Android Auto", "Google Maps" and "Google Assistant" are all in the Play Store.

    So, the news here actually is "Google announces Password Checkup coming to older Android devices; and five app-updates"

  3. crunchyfrog

    Any updates to Android Auto are welcome but they need to push automakers to include the option. I know that BMW and other luxury brands only have CarPlay as an option.

  4. crunchyfrog

    Scheduled messages is a neat idea. iOS apparently does not have this but I've never tried to hold down the send button until just now. I had no idea there were hidden options.

  5. dftf

    In reply to Pungkuss:

    You might have slightly missed my point.

    This article is framed in a "out of the goodness of their own hearts, Google has decided not to make these features exclusive to Android 12 and will backport them to older versions..."

    Whereas I'm thinking "okay, so five of those six new-features are simply updated features to existing apps, so of course you'd expect to see them in any version of Android the app still supports."

    It's like saying "Google Chrome and Firefox continue to provide Windows 7 users with all the same features as Windows 8 and 10 users" and making-out like it's something special. No, for as-long-as you decide to still offer app-updates on an older platform, it's not unreasonable to expect feature-parity the best you can offer. As otherwise, just stop supporting it

    • winner

      In reply to dftf:

      Well, for context, in today's other article from Paul, the latest Windows "Features Experience Pack" has one change - Improved reliability of the Handwriting Input Panel.

    • Paul Thurrott

      lol yes, I always see Google through the lens of its altruism.
  6. ebraiter

    As of which update? My S10 got an update today. Coincidence?

  7. jdawgnoonan

    Android Auto is good but not great. Coming from iPhone to the Note 20 Ultra, Carplay is a better experience in most ways.

  8. danwat1234

    Funny, i use the "Do It Later" app to send timed text messages. Finally Android supports this in the native app!

  9. Awhispersecho

    So assistant still doesn't announce who is calling or that you got a text from someone and allow you to answer and respond like Cortana did 6 years ago. You would think this stuff would be standard, hands-free stuff by now, especially with the hands free driving laws and yet, the biggest smartphone OS in the world still can't or won't do it.

  10. DBS

    Not so much "new features to Android" but more like "new functionality to Google's own bloatware".

  11. melinau

    As a long-term Android user, I'll say any improvements are to be welcomed!

    The overall "Android experience" is rapidly falling behind Apple's iOS, and probably the worst let-down, is the apparently random way both Security & OS updates are delivered (if at all).

    This is now so bad that I'm seriously thinking of going over to the "dark" (expensive & locked-down) side & buying an iPhone. OnePlus - previously a stand-out seems to be backtracking on offering OS updates for more than a couple of years & Samsung is trumpeting that it'll offer 4 years of updates. As an ex Samsung owner, the glacial pace of their updating indicates that will be about one Major Android version! The rest of the Android camp are little better.