Android update brings 5 great new features

While we wait for Android 12, here are five awesome updates coming to a phone near you

(Image credit: Unsplash)

The wait for Android 12 is on, but even when the new version of Google's Android OS lands the wait for many phones to get it will continue. The good news is that Android Land never stays still for long and there are some great updates coming to phones, even those running older versions of Android. 

If you're interested in how the new version of Google's OS will look then our Android 12 forecast looked at some of the predicted new features we're most excited about here at T3. 

As usual, the roll out of these features will depend on support from your phone's manufacturer. It's quite likely Google Pixel owners will see these first, but who knows your Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra might not have long to wait. 

Double-tap gesture control

Google has introduced a Double-Tap gesture feature. Taking notes from Apple’s iPhone models, including the iPhone 12iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max

You can enable the feature by heading over to your System Settings, click Gestures, and activate the Double-tap setting. Once enabled, you are presented with an array of actions that can be toggled on: screenshots, media control, and the activation of Google Assistant. All should be now possible to use with a double-tap hand gesture. 

Reportedly, this feature hasn’t yet been fully polished and, according to the Android subreddit, Google’s work isn’t yet complete: an instructive animation that plays on the screen shows a person double-pressing the power button instead of tapping the phone, which is one indication that this is an unfinished developer that still needs some work.

Google Maps  ‘Always in Dark Theme’ 

Dark Mode

(Image credit: Google)

The much-needed and hotly tipped dark theme for Google Maps is arriving. According to the official Google blog post, “With the dark theme in Google Maps soon expanding to all Android users globally, you can give your eyes a much-needed break and save on battery life”. 

Google is taking aim at the age-old symptoms of screen fatigue, eyeing up a dimmed light option that lets users toggle between light and dark to ease eyestrain.

Google said Google Maps’ dark theme will land on Android mobile phones “soon”, which means you should be able to find it on some of our best Android phones in only a matter of months. 

When it rolls out, it'll be activated directly from Google Maps' settings for Android. Click your profile icon in the Maps search bar. Scroll down to Settings and tap on 'Dark Theme'.

Android Password Checkup 

Android Password Checker

(Image credit: Google)

Password Check-up has been a mainstay of Google Chrome for some time; as such, it’s a welcome addition to the Android suite, especially in the light of increasingly sophisticated malware threats that recently targeted Firefox, Edge, and Chrome. New MacBook payloads specifically engineered for M1 MacBooks, including the MacBook Pro 13-inch M1 and Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) have also been seen.

The Password checker is a must-have tool for users who juggle multiple passwords from one device to another; those of us who need enhanced security, but not at the expense of login speed; otherwise, for cross-platform users, who need a robust tool to keep their passwords safe, and accessible on the go.

The password checker feature looks for holes in your password security, reporting on whether it’s been compromised by cross-checking it against a list of known compromised passwords. It’s not fail-safe, but it’s a neat (and quick) feature for performing basic strength testing of your login details.

Schedule Google Messages to send later

Schedule Later

(Image credit: Google)

Write now and send later is an Android feature that will nip those late messages in the bud, and get well-wishes out to friends and family before you forget them later on. This Android feature is one of the most useful tricks that'll likely gain significant traction on a wider rollout.

It lets you plan in advance by scheduling messages to friends, family, and any other contacts at a later date. If you remember something vitally important for the following day - like a birthday message - you can get it scheduled to go out at the perfect moment. It’s good for those of us who multi-task a million different things and saves the hassle of reminders flooding your Samsung Galaxy S21.

All you need is the latest version of Google Messages. Create your text as normal and then tap and hold the send button (instead of just tapping it). This presents you with the option to either send later today, later tonight, tomorrow, or a date and time in the future. Perfect for those who live in the moment and never want to miss the sending of a message to a cherished relative or friend.

Android Auto

Google is also overhauling its in-car smartphone mirroring system, Android Auto. The tech giant announced that the Android update will make the system more functional, alongside many new features.

Central to this increased functionality is the addition of a split-screen view. When enabled, drivers can see both Google Maps and media controls to give a more complete perspective of the screen.  

It's a great feature that T3 recently covered for Android smartphones, that looks set to leave Apple's iPhone in the dust, as iOS awaits an update to its devices. Take a look at our pick of the best Android Auto head unit to rig your car out for with the best tech for any budget.

Google pushes out huge new releases like this every quarter. Although it's quite easy to stay within the safe and comfortable realm of Apple iOS through our pick of the best iPhone models, it's well worth taking a serious look at Android if you're eyeing a switch to a more functional, robust OS.

Google, of course, is so exponentially powerful in the sector that Android updates are usually very comprehensive. T3's recent coverage of audio-coupled haptic feedback for its handsets could see a significantly enhanced gaming experience for gaming fans; it's also continually churning out smaller Android updates as it looks to reign supreme over Apple and, maybe unexpectedly, fend off a serious comeback challenge from BlackBerry that was once a serious contender in the mobile arena.

Source: Google

Luke Wilson

Luke is a former news writer at T3 who covered all things tech at T3. Disc golf enthusiast, keen jogger, and fond of all things outdoors (when not indoors messing around with gadgets), Luke wrote about a wide-array of subjects for, including Android Auto, WhatsApp, Sky, Virgin Media, Amazon Kindle, Windows 11, Chromebooks, iPhones and much more, too.