Google announces 6 new Android features: starred messages, search apps using Assistant and more


  • Google has announced six new features for all Android devices
  • They will be available soon for all users
  • Some features are currently in beta

Google has introduced six new features for its Android operating system. These include an earthquake alert system, starred messages, contextual emoji kitchen suggestions, open apps using assistant, gaze detection within voice access, and new Android Auto features. 

Also Read: Google Pixel 4a price in India cut by Rs 5,000

The new features aren’t just limited to Pixel devices which has been the norm for some time now. They are available for all Android devices although the OS compatibility and exact rollout may vary depending on the region. Let’s take a look at each of the newly announced features below. 

Six new features coming to Android

Here’s a look at the new features coming to Android users.

Starred messages on Google Messages

Starred Messages

Users can now star important messages and refer back to them later. Users just need to tap and hold the message, then select the star icon. There’s also a starred category where starred messages can be accessed in the future. The feature will start rolling out to the Messages app in the coming weeks. 

Earthquake Alerts System

The Earthquake alerts system utilises the sensors on the user’s smartphone to detect any earthquakes. People in the affected areas can get warnings before an earthquake hits. This feature has been available in New Zealand and Greece and will be introduced in countries like Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. 

Google says that it is prioritising the earthquake alert system feature in countries that are prone to higher earthquake risks and launch in more countries over the coming year. 

Open and search apps using Google Assistant

Google has expanded the ability of its voice assistant to search and open more apps through a voice command. Users can just say ‘Hey Google, Pay my Capital One bill’ and the command will take you directly into the app to complete the task. The search engine giant will add more commands and supported apps over time. For now, users can check the full list of what’s possible by saying ‘hey Google, shortcuts’

Gaze detection on Voice Access

Voice Access Gaze Detection

It’s worth noting that the gaze detection feature on Voice Access is currently in beta and will be rolled out soon. For those unaware, the app lets users with motor impairment control their phone using voice. With gaze detection, the feature will only work when the user is looking at the screen. Gaze detection is similar to the ‘Screen attention’ feature on Pixel devices. 

Apart from this, Voice Access has also received enhanced password input. Users can say capitalize certain letters, numbers or the name of symbols and Google will recognize and input it in the password field.

Emoji Kitchen suggestions in Gboard

Emoji Kitchen on Gboard lets users pick two different emojis and merge them into one to create stickers. The new contextual emoji kitchen suggestion feature will now automatically display relevant stickers in the emoji kitchen based on the context of your message. The feature is available in beta today and a stable version will be released later this summer. It will be compatible with English, Spanish and Portuguese languages and run on devices with Android 6 or above. 

Android Auto messaging support 

Users can now personalise the Android Auto launch screen from their smartphone and set the dark mode manually. Browsing content is now easier with new tabs in media apps and an A to Z button in the scroll bar. Android Auto now also offers EV charging, parking and navigation apps. Users can also access all their instant messaging apps from the launcher screen as well as send and read new messages via Google Assistant. 

The latest Android Auto features are compatible with phones running on Android 6 or above with a compatible car. 

Viraj Gawde

Viraj loves being in the creative field. Being a tech guy and resident tech advisor for his friends and family, his interest lies in smartphones, laptops and cameras. Passionate about creating art, his forte lies in photography. In his downtime, he loves gaming on his self-built rig and supporting FC Barcelona.