In April of this year, Google expanded the Android earthquake alerts system to Greece and New Zealand, where users can receive notifications about earthquakes in those countries. Google today announced a new expansion for that feature along with new updates for Android that focus on new experiences and improved security.
The alert system is now rolling out in regions where the risk of earthquake is high including Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. People in these countries will get notifications a few seconds before an earthquake happens. Google is expanding it to more countries over the coming year.
Google is also launching a new capability in the Messages app that will let you star an important message. It's available from today and will go live to more users over the next few weeks. To get started, you can simply tap and hold a message to star it. You can then visit the starred category to view messages you've marked as important.
The Emoji Kitchen is also adding contextual suggestions after you've composed a message. It's available from today in Gboard beta. It's set to exit beta in the summer and will go live for messages written in English, Spanish, and Portuguese on devices running Android 6.0 or later.
Android now also lets you open and access apps using your voice. In addition, Voice Access has added gaze detection in beta so you can use your voice to navigate your phone or an app only when you're looking at the screen. Google has also improved its password input so you can input letters, numbers, and symbols using your voice when a password field is detected.
Finally, Android Auto has received new customization options such the ability to change your launcher screen directly from your mobile device and turn on dark mode. It also gained a “back to top” option and new tabs in the media apps so you can browse content more easily. Messaging apps are also now available directly via the launcher screen while EV charging, parking, and navigation apps are now accessible in Android Auto. These features are live globally on phones running Android 6.0 or later.