6 new Android features Google just announced, and how you'll use them

Google just announced it’s rolling out updates to six different Android apps, from the TalkBack screen reader to Android Auto. The updates add useful new features, like the ability to schedule when a text message will be sent in the Messages app. Google Maps is also receiving an update of its own that adds a true dark mode throughout the entire app, not just when you’re using navigation. 

© Provided by CNET Several Android apps are getting some useful updates. Sarah Tew/CNET © Jason Cipriani/CNET

Several Android apps are getting some useful updates. 

There’s also an update to Google’s password autofill tool that will tell you if your passwords have been leaked and let you know it’s time to change it. 

Keep in mind, these are rolling updates. That means you may not have access to them right away. The best advice I have is to keep checking the Play Store for app updates. 

Below I’ll walk you through the new features and how to use them. 

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Password Checkup now works across Android apps

If you use Google’s Password Manager to autofill your usernames and passwords in Chrome or Android apps, then this update is for you. Google will now check all of your login credentials to see if they’ve been leaked or exposed in a hack. If it finds your information, a prompt will let you know you need to change your password. 

The new Password Checkup tool is rolling out to Android devices running Android 9 or higher. You can check if you’re using Google’s autofill service by opening the Settings app, then go to System > Languages & Input > Advanced and tap Autofill Service. If that path doesn’t take you to the right place, since every Android phone is a little bit different, you can use the search tool in the Settings app to look for Autofill. (For example, on the Galaxy S21 Ultra the setting is under General Management in the settings app.) 

© Provided by CNET Here’s what it looks like when Google finds a bad password. GIF by Google

Once you navigate to the Autofill section, you’ll want to make sure Google is selected. 

If you haven’t been using Google’s autofill tool, then start saving your credentials when it prompts you. If you have been using it, then keep using it as you have been. The tool will let you know when it finds your information was leaked — you don’t have to do anything special to trigger it. 

© Provided by CNET Full dark mode is finally coming to Google Maps. Google

Dark Mode comes to Google Maps

For fans of dark mode in Android apps, you’ll want to keep checking the Play Store for an update to Google Maps. 

Google is finally adding a true dark mode throughout the entire app. Huzzah! Prior to the latest update, Google Maps only offered a dark mode when you were actively using navigation mode. It was better than nothing, sure, but it wasn’t ideal. 

Once Google Maps updates on your Android phone or tablet, you can turn dark mode on all the time by going to Settings > Theme and then select Always in Dark Theme.

© Provided by CNET Scheduling messages is a convenient feature. Google

Schedule a text message

If you’re not already using Google Messages as your default text messaging app, this might finally get you to make the switch. Google is rolling out an update that adds the option to schedule when a message is sent. Scheduling messages is especially useful if you don’t want to bother someone at the wrong time because they’re in a different time zone, or you know they’re busy at work. Or you can use it to schedule a message canceling plans that you regret even making. 

Once your Messages app receives the latest update, you can start to compose a message just like you always do, but instead of tapping on the send button — long-press it. A menu will pop up, asking when you want it sent. It’s as easy as that. 

© Provided by CNET TalkBack is also receiving a hefty update. Google

TalkBack is getting easier to use

Google’s TalkBack accessibility feature is getting a big update to help blind or low vision users navigate and use their Android devices. There are new gestures, navigation options, spoken feedback and menus. 

We have more information about the TalkBack update here. If you want to check it out for yourself, make sure to check for app and service updates in the Play Store. 

© Provided by CNET GIF by Google

But wait, there’s more

Google is also adding new features to Android Auto and Google Assistant. They’re relatively minor updates, but worth taking note of. 

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Android Auto users are getting the ability to set custom wallpapers that are displayed on their vehicle’s screen. Google is also adding voice-activated games that your passengers can play during long road trips. One of the games Google mentions is Jeopardy, which is always a hit. Finally, Google is adding shortcuts to the Android Auto launch screen that will make it easy to check the weather or quick access to contacts for messaging and calls. 

Google Assistant is getting improvements when you use voice commands to interact with the digital assistant when your screen is off and the device is locked. Google says that the cards that show information are now bigger, making it easier to read responses from across the room. To ensure the feature is working as expected turn on Lock Screen Personal Results in your Google Assistant settings page.

Google does big feature releases like this every quarter or so. For example, here are some features added to Google Assistant last year. If you’re someone who’d rather look forward, then check out the new features we’ve found so far in Android 12. We also have a running list of hidden features in Android that we love.

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