The first developer preview of Android 12 may not have told us much about what to expect from the next version of Google’s mobile operating system, but we’re getting some new features sooner than expected. The company is announcing a set of six updates today, that might surprise us as we wait for the official arrival of Android 12. Changes include a password checker, dark mode for Google Maps, lock screen maps of the Assistant, a revamped TalkBack screen reader, and scheduled messages. Android Auto also gets custom wallpapers, voice activated games, and a privacy screen.
For most people, the most immediately useful update is the ability to schedule messages. Android users can set a text to send after a certain amount of time (for example, after your partner posts your engagement ad on Instagram). This can be useful in a variety of scenarios, such as when you’re talking to someone in a different time zone and you don’t want to disturb them while they are sleeping, or if you just don’t want to appear too impatient when you discuss. a potential new lover. Scheduled messaging is starting to roll out and will be available for those using Android 7 or later.
We have heard for months that a dark mode can happen on Google Maps, and today the feature is finally official. You can go to app settings, select Theme and tap Always in dark theme to switch to the new scheme when using Maps. Another long overdue update is the ability to use Assistant when your phone is locked. If you enable personal lock screen results in the assistant settings, you can ask the assistant to make calls, set timers or play music and a map will appear on the screen to fulfill your order. This can make it easier to use your device in a hands-free mode, which should also benefit people with reduced mobility.
Google is also update one of its biggest accessibility features – the TalkBack screen reader. It adds a dozen new multi-finger gestures and voice commands to make it easier to interact with your phone if you can’t see your screen. The new gestures are available on the latest version of TalkBack on Pixel devices and from Samsung’s One UI 3. There will also be new reading controls that will let you swipe with three fingers to switch between reading just titles, every word or even every character.
The company has also received comments that TalkBack’s menu structure is confusing, so the update incorporates them in an effort to make navigation easier. Google is also adding more customization options and supports Arabic and Spanish in its Braille keyboard to meet the needs of more people. This version of TalkBack was co-developed with Samsung, and it’s now the default screen reader on all Galaxy devices running One UI 3 and later.
One of the new features in today’s announcement may sound familiar: password verification. It was mentioned since 2019, and was initially available on Chrome to alert you if your password has been compromised and posted to the web. With today’s update, Google will verify your passwords as you enter them into an app using autofill and walk you through the change. It will work on devices running Android 9 and later.
Finally, Android Auto will soon get shortcuts on the launch screen to facilitate access to your contacts or activate the assistant. Voice activated games like Danger! and trivia are also coming, as is a privacy screen that lets you decide when Android Auto appears on your car screen. You’ll also be able to choose from a selection of “car-inspired backgrounds” to personalize your dashboard, and those with larger screens can split it up to showcase Google Maps on one side and the media controls on the side. other.
It’s unclear when all of these updates will start rolling out, although those for Android Auto will be available “in the next few days” on phones running Android 6.0 or later. In recent times, Google has released new features for its operating system more frequently throughout the year, instead of registering them for a single major version with each major version of Android. While this can lead to each generation of the software feeling less of an upgrade, it’s good to get these features as and when they’re ready instead of having to wait until later in the game. year.