Android gets scheduled Messages, new in-car UI & games, plus password safety checks

Chris Davies - Feb 23, 2021, 12:13pm CST
Android gets scheduled Messages, new in-car UI & games, plus password safety checks

Android users are getting new messaging, Android Auto, and password management features, along with a new TalkBack screen reader version for the visually-impaired. Beginning to roll out from today, the new updates won’t just be limited to Android 12 – which opened up for the developer preview last week – but will work with multiple generations of the OS from the past few years.

For messaging, for example, Android 7 and newer devices will get a new version of Messages that now supports scheduled send. With the feature, after you’ve typed in a text message, you’ll be able to hold down the send button: that will bring up a new scheduling menu.

From there, you’ll be able to select a date and time at which to send the message to the recipient. Users will be able to choose an exact date/time for that, or pick from a few presets like “Tonight at 8pm” or “Tomorrow at 8am” that the app will suggest. The new version is available now.

For Android Auto, meanwhile, Google’s in-car interface is getting more layout options. There’s a new set of shortcuts on the launch screen, for instance, for one-tap access to contacts and similar, plus easier access to features like weather reports and controlling smart home devices remotely. Vehicles that have broader displays will get a split-screen view now, with both Google Maps and media playback controls showing at the same time.

A privacy screen, meanwhile, goes in the opposite direction, hiding the interface when you don’t want other people in the car to necessarily be able to see it. Custom wallpapers for the Android Auto home screen are being added, and there are new voice-activated games including “Jeopardy!” The new Android Auto features will be rolling out on Android 6 phones and above over the coming days, Google says.

For Android 9 or more recent devices, Google’s Password Checkup system is being integrated into the password autofill system. That will flag if a password you use has been breached, checking it against a database of known compromised credentials. That’s how it has worked on Chrome’s password storage, and now it’s expanding to Android phones too.

Determination of whether a credential has been breached takes place on-device, Google says, for security.

Finally, there’s a new version TalkBack. Android’s screen reader is designed for those with partial sight or who are blind to use their phone via spoken feedback and gestures. It’s being expanded with more intuitive gestures, Google says, along with a unified menu and new reading control menu. The new TalkBack app is available in the Google Play store now.


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