Google this week announced new requirements for Android apps listed in the Google Play store to clearly disclose what user data the app collects, how it's used, how it's shared, how it's protected (such as encryption), and what choices users have in regard to that data. Also required is whether the app meets Google's requirements for family-friendly apps. The user choice section includes whether users have a choice in sharing data in the first place, and whether users can have their data deleted when the app is uninstalled. There will be an additional line for whether compliance with all of the above has been verified by an independent third party. App developers will be responsible for the accuracy of this information. If Google finds that a developer has misrepresented the data safety info they've provided, the app will be subject to "policy enforcement", after first being given an opportunity to become compliant. Developers can start submitting this info to Google toward the end of this year. It will be rolled out to users at the beginning of 2022, and become required for all apps in the second quarter of 2022. Apple launched a similar App Privacy section for its App Store listings last year.
The Supreme Court today ruled against Oracle in its bid to force Google to pay for implementing Java in the Android smartphone operating system (OS). Oracle owns the intellectual property and copyrights for Java, but Java is widely used throughout the open-source software community. In creating Android, Google created APIs that allowed developers to write Android apps using Java. Oracle claimed in court that these APIs amounted to copyright infringement, while Google argued that the APIs were covered by the legal doctrine of "fair use". Oracle was seeking over $9 billion in damages. While an appeals court found in favor of Oracle, today's Supreme Court ruling settles the matter in favor of Google. The decision was 6-2. The decision is also a relief for the open-source community and many smaller software companies.
Google today announced a variety of new features for its Google Maps app. The flashiest is indoor Live View for select airports, transit stations, and malls. This augmented reality (AR) mode overlays step-by-step navigation instructions on a real-time view of your indoor surroundings via your phone's camera. The first locations supported are malls in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle, followed by select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich, "with more cities on the way". The feature can help you "find the nearest elevator and escalators, your gate, platform, baggage claim, check-in counters, ticket office, restrooms, ATMs and more". Google Maps is also gaining new navigation features that take into account carbon footprint. When multiple driving routes are available, it will show which route(s) are most fuel-efficient, and by how much, as a percentage. When multiple routes have approximately the same ETA as the fastest route, it will default to the more fuel-efficient route. Maps will also now offer route options that include transit or bike without toggling between tabs.
T-Mobile is deepening its ties with Google in several new areas, including committing 100% to Google's solution for rich messaging based on the RCS standard. Going forward, all Android phones sold by T-Mobile will have Google's Messages app set as the default (RCS-based) messaging experience. T-Mobile will also be carrying and promoting more Pixel devices going forward, and pushing Google One "as the preferred phone backup and cloud storage solution". T-Mobile is also abandoning its own new live-TV service in favor of YouTube TV "as T-Mobile's premium TV solution".
Google recently announced the formation of the Android Ready SE Alliance, a collaboration between Google and the makers of "secure element" chips for phones and similar devices. The new initiative will enable all Android phone makers to more easily implement hardware security features that match the functionality and security of Pixel phones (which use Google's Titan M secure element chip). A secure element is discrete, tamper-resistant hardware that protects the integrity a user's data, keys, wallet, etc. The Android Ready SE Alliance has specific requirements to ensure that implementations are secure. The Alliance is also releasing specific software called SE Applets, which run on the secure element chips and implement specific features "in conjunction with corresponding Android feature releases". The first Applet is StrongBox, which simply stores and handles cryptographic keys. The next two Applets will be for digital IDs (including mobile driver's licenses) and digital car keys. Phone makers can choose secure element chips from any of the five participating hardware vendors: Giesecke+Devrient, Kigen, NXP, STMicroelectronics, and Thales.
Following the launch of Apple's "App Store Small Business Program" a few months ago, Google today followed suit by also halving its app store commission from 30 to 15 percent for smaller developers. Starting July 1, 2021, Google will only take 15% for all digital goods or services sold on the Google Play platform for the first $1 million. Revenues above $1 million for any given developer will continue to see a 30% commission. Apple's program differs in that businesses must apply to a special program to receive the 15% rate, and are only eligible if they earn $1 million or less in annual proceeds. Google's 15% rate applies to the first $1 million in revenue automatically, regardless of company size.
Google is rolling out a major update to Android Auto. The new version includes car-optimized games such as trivia and "Jeopardy!". The feature can be activated by saying "Hey Google, play a game". Users can now "select from a variety of car-inspired backgrounds to personalize your car display". Finally, on "cars with wider screens", a new split-screen view "features a real-time view of Google Maps and media controls". The update will be available in the coming days for phones with Android 6 and above.
Google has started rolling out an update to it Messages app that lets users schedule a text message to send at a later time. The feature is designed for people with "loved ones in another time zone or on a different schedule". To use the feature, simply press and hold the send button to reveal a new pop-up menu for scheduling. The menu provides several suggested times as shortcuts, plus an option to pick any specific date and time. The feature will be available in the next Messages update for phones running Android 7 and newer.
Clipper Card — the universal transit fare card for all 24 San Francisco Bay Area transit agencies — will be supported in Apple Pay and Google Pay digital wallets "this spring". Residents and visitors will be able to add a stored-value Clipper card to their digital wallet and tap their phones to ride transit, replacing a physical Clipper card. The system differs from those in cities (such as New York and Chicago) offering "open" fare payments made directly from a credit or debit card in Google Pay / Apple Pay. Apple has launched a page where people can sign up to be notified when Clipper is available for iPhone and Apple Watch. Separately, Google announced a new feature of Google Maps that lets users buy and present transit fare payments — including Clipper, when available — without leaving the Maps app, as part of turn-by-turn directions that include transit.
Google has released the first preview version of Android 12 to developers. As a developer release, it focuses on APIs and other developer-focused aspects, rather than necessarily representing the final look and feature set for consumers. Several new features are notable, though:
- Project Mainline continues to expand, with Google adding the Android Runtime (ART) module to the list of software that Google can update directly through the Play Store, instead of requiring a full OS update approved by manufacturers and carriers. ART handles compiling app code into processor instructions.
- Better support for newer image and video formats. Specifically, support for the AV1 image file format (AVIF), and better support for the HEVC video format.
- Rich content insertion, which makes it easier for apps to support copy-and-paste of styled text and multimedia. The new API for rich content also supports drag-and-drop.
- Haptic-coupled audio effect, which lets apps more easily add haptic effects by linking them to an audio channel.
- Multi-channel audio, including support for spatial information encoded with MPEG-H, and enabling apps to mix and process up to 24 audio channels.
- Finally, the Notification UI has been updated to make "custom" notifications look and work more like other notification types.
Nothing, Technologies, a new startup from former OnePlus executive Carl Pei, has purchased the Essential brand. Essential was a phone startup founded by Android creator Andy Rubin after he left Google.
Google today announced a new video editor as part of Google Photos. The company also announced that some advanced, AI-powered features previously available only on Pixel phones will now be available on more phones, but only for Google One subscribers. The new video editor adds features to "crop, change perspective, add filters, apply granular edits (including brightness, contrast, saturation and warmth) and more." This is in addition to existing features to trim, stabilize and rotate videos. It's available now in Google Photos for iOS, and "will be rolling out to most Android users in the coming weeks". In the coming months, iOS users will also get the revamped photo editor that rolled out to Android users late last year. Google One subscribers on Android will also get several new features that were previously restricted to Pixel phones. In the coming days, those users will see an updated Google Photos app that includes Portrait Blur, Portrait Light, and new "Dynamic" and "sky" filters. All of these new feature use machine learning to apply advanced effects in a realistic way to any photo, including those captured without depth information. Google One memberships start at $2/month.
Google Fi today announced that its free VPN service is exiting beta for Android, and will "roll out ... to iPhone starting this spring." The VPN service protects against IP address tracking and hacking while using unsecure Wi-Fi networks.
Google and Apple have removed social media app Parler from their respective app stores. Both companies are insisting that Parler implement much stronger moderation of user-submitted content — including posts that encourage illegal behavior or incite violence — if it wants its app listed again. Google stated: "We're aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S. ... In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app's listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues." Parler was created as a "free speech" safe haven for those on the political right that feel censored by more popular social media platforms such as Twitter. Wednesday's deadly storming of the US Capitol Building was planned in public forums and social media, including Parler. Apple initially gave Parler 24 hours to correct the issue, then on Saturday followed through on its threat to remove the app. Parler is facing an even larger threat from Amazon, which says it will remove the service from its AWS hosting platform, a move that will make it difficult for the company to keep the social network online in any form. Parler has pledged to rebuild, a process that its says will take at least one week, during which time the social network will be unavailable.
Qualcomm and Google have collaborated to "enhance and extend" Project Treble, Google's initiative to make make it easier for phone makers to offer OS updates (major and minor) faster, more often, and for longer after a phone has launched. Offering an OS update for a phone requires work on the part of both the phone maker and the maker of the phone's chipset. Qualcomm has now committed to doing that work for all of its Snapdragon chipsets for four years after launch, starting with the new Snapdragon 888. This will make it easier for phone makers using those chipsets to offer OS updates to consumers, hopefully leading to more — and more timely — OS updates for Snapdragon-based phones, including major new versions of Android as well security updates. The new commitment is made possible by tweaks to the structure of Project Treble that dramatically reduce the work required to support OS updates across old vs. new devices, as well as across different chipsets.
Google has rolled out a new feature of Google Photos that makes important old photos stored with the service available as a Live Wallpaper on many Android phones. When the new "Memories" Live Wallpaper is enabled, the phone's wallpaper will automatically change to show a rotating selection of old photos curated by Google's AI. The feature is available on Android phones with Google's Live Wallpaper feature and Google Photos 5.22 or later.
Google has added a new blog-like "community feed" feature to Google Maps, which highlights "what’s happening in your area" and "makes it easier to discover things to do and places to go". It includes user-submitted photos, reviews, and posts from local experts, posts and updates from local businesses, and articles related to the area from major publishers. The feature is available in the Explore tab of the Google Maps app.
Both Google and Nvidia today announced that they are bringing their respective cloud-based game-streaming services to Apple's iOS in the form of a Safari web app, following similar announcements from Microsoft and Amazon. Nvidia GeForce Now is available in beta form today. The beta version of Google Stadia for iOS will be available "in the coming weeks". Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming (formerly Project xCloud) will come to iOS next year. Amazon's Luna was the first game-streaming service to launch on iOS as a web app. Apple has made life difficult for game-streaming services by effectively banning each service from offering a native iOS app to access the whole service. Apple's App Store rules require that each game be approved and offered separately, which is generally not how game-streaming services work. Those rules do not apply to web apps that run within the browser, however.
Google is starting to roll out end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for messages sent over RCS using the Google Messages app. The feature provides security and privacy by ensuring that messages cannot be intercepted and read in transit between phones, not even by Google or mobile carriers. Google is rolling out the feature in phases, starting this month with one-to-one messages (not group chats) sent between users who are both using the public beta version of Google's Messages app. Under those conditions, conversations are automatically upgraded to use E2EE. Separately, Google announced the expansion of its own RCS service (for carriers that do not yet support RCS) to all countries globally. RCS is an open industry standard for rich messaging similar to iMessage. Apple's iOS does not yet support RCS.
Google today launched a major revamp of its Google Pay app with a new interface and several major new features. Instead of a stack of cards and list of transactions, the new interface centers around the people and businesses you exchange money with, with a conversation-style interface for each person, group, and business. Threads for groups include a simple "split bill" tool. New built-in tools make it easier to order food at over 100,000 restaurants, buy gas at over 30,000 gas stations, and pay for parking in over 400 cities. Participating retailers can also offer cash-back rewards and discounts that automatically appear within the app. A new Insights tab lets you explore your finances and spending in several ways, including a new search feature. It can search not only Google Pay transactions, but also — with your permission — all of your bank accounts and credit cards, as well as receipts from both Gmail and your photos. For example, you can search for "food last month" and it will show all relevant transactions as well as a total dollar amount. The new Google Pay app is available now for both Android and iOS. Finally, Google also announced Plex, "a new mobile-first bank account". Plex includes checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees, overdraft charges or minimum balance requirements. You can choose which FDIC-backed financial institution backs your account, but the Plex interface is provided by Google, within the Google Pay app. It includes tools to help you set saving goals. 11 banks and credit unions have committed to participating in Plex, and a waitlist is now available for Plex accounts backed by Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union. Plex is very similar to Samsung Money by SoFi, which launched in July.
Google Photos will no longer offer unlimited free backup of new "High quality" content from non-Pixel phones starting June 1, 2021. Since launch, Google Photos — available for both iOS and Android — has been unique in offering this free lifetime service. Google's definition of "High quality" means compressed copies of photos up to 16 megapixel and videos up to 1080p resolution. "High quality" content uploaded to the service before the deadline will be grandfathered and kept in the cloud for free, for life, without counting against storage limits. But starting June 2021, all new "High quality" content will be treated the same as Original quality content, counting against the 15 GB total storage available with every free Google account, shared among all Google services. Users can buy more storage with a Google One subscription. The cheapest plan offers 100 GB for $2/month. All existing Google Pixel phones are exempt from this change, and will continue to enjoy free, unlimited High quality media storage. Google says the average user will still be able to store about three years of photos with a free account, but the company also launched a simple tool offering a personalized estimate. Google is also changing its storage policies across all services. Google may delete content for a particular account/service if the user is inactive or over the storage limit for two years. The company also says it will "notify you multiple times before we attempt to remove any content so you have ample opportunities to take action." Users can easily manage storage and delete old files to make space using the Google One app.
Google has added a VPN feature to its Google One service at the 2 TB and higher levels, which start at $10/month or $100/year. The feature will roll out in the "coming weeks" for Android, and will come to other platforms including iOS in "coming months". Like any VPN, it offers extra security when using public Wi-Fi hotspots or any untrusted internet connection.
Google has added screen sharing to its Duo video-calling app.
Google has added a helpful new feature to Android for anyone with hearing loss or simply wearing headphones. Sound Notifications provides push notifications for critical sounds around you, including baby sounds, water running, smoke and fire alarms, appliances beeping, dog barking, and door knocking. There's also a timeline that shows past detected noise events. The feature uses offline AI. Many Android phones already have this feature, but it can also be added by downloading both Live Transcribe and Sound Notifications from the Google Play app store.
Google today launched third-party app integration for Google Assistant. This lets Android users perform specific actions within their favorite apps with a single "Hey Google..." command. For example, you can now say "Hey Google... new TikTok video", "send money with Venmo", "order Dunkin", "book a Lyft", "Tweet", "my friends' birthdays in Facebook", or "search cozy blankets on Etsy". Users can further customize the feature by adding their own shortcuts, such as "Hey Google, lace it" as a shortcut for "Hey Google, tighten my shoes with Nike Adapt". Users can explore and customize the new Shortcuts features by saying "Hey Google, show my shortcuts". The feature is available now on all Assistant-enabled Android phones.
Google Fi today launched 5G phones and 5G service, now that Google has launched its own 5G Pixel phones. Google Fi will include 5G service with all plans at no extra charge. They are offering the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Note20, Note20 Ultra, S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, and A71 5G.
Google and Snapchat have created new guidelines for face-retouching features in phone camera apps. Google conducted multiple studies and consulted experts, finding that retouched photos can "negatively impact mental wellbeing" and "quietly set a beauty standard that some people compare themselves against". The new guidelines state that face-retouching features should be off by default, stay off when turned off, provide clear indication when they are turned on, and avoid the term "beauty", using value-neutral terms and iconography instead. The two companies have committed to following these guidelines in their own products, and encourage other companies in the mobile industry to follow.
New York State has launched COVID Alert NY, its official app enabling the COVID-19 Exposure Notification system developed by Apple and Google. New York is the largest US state to date to launch an app using the system, and joins ten other states that have already launched similar apps: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wyoming. New York's app supports the national key server that allows Exposure Notifications to work across state lines, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Exposure Notifications is an opt-in system that uses Bluetooth to track which phones come near which other phones, how closely, and for how long. When someone reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19, the service can alert other people that may have come into contact with that person, so they can get tested as well. The service does not track users' locations, and protects privacy by using randomly-generated, frequently-changed ID codes to keep everyone anonymous. The system is more effective the more people participate. New York's app is available now for Android and iOS. Several other states are working on similar apps they plan to launch soon, including California, Colorado, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, DC. New York's app was developed by NearForm, which also developed Exposure Notification apps for New Jersey, Scotland, and Ireland.
Google today announced its 5G Pixel phones for 2020: the Pixel 5 and "Pixel 4a (5G)". The confusingly-named Pixel 4a (5G) actually has more in common with the Pixel 5 than with the Pixel 4a. Both have a large OLED display (6–6.2 inches) with HDR, large battery (roughly 4,000 mAh), the exact same high-quality camera arrays, Titan M security chip, and are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip. The key differences are that the Pixel 5 has wireless (and reverse wireless) charging, water resistance, aluminum (vs. polycarbonate) body, and 8 GB RAM instead of 6. However only the Pixel 4a (5G) has a 3.5mm headset jack. The new Pixels include several new camera features. Night Sight in Portrait Mode lets you take portrait shots with blurred backgrounds even in very low light. Portrait Light lets you simulate a studio light and position it anywhere relative to your subject. That feature can also be applied to existing photos in Google Photos. Video mode now lets you choose from three different stabilization modes, including a new Cinematic Pan mode. The main camera is the same 12-megapixel sensor with f/1.7 aperture that Google has used in Pixel phones for the past year. The two new 5G models also have a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a departure from the Pixel 4 which had a telephoto camera instead. A new Hold for Me feature lets you assign Google Assistant to monitor a call on hold and alert you when a person is on the line. Extreme Battery Saver lets you pick which apps are essential and shuts down everything else to prolong battery life up to two days. Hold for Me and Extreme Battery Saver will come older Pixel phones via software update. Google has also improved its Recorder app, which records audio while transcribing it to text, even offline. Now, you can crop and remove sections of audio by simply editing the text. The Pixel 5 will be available unlocked in mint or black starting October 15th for $699. Pre-orders are open now. It will also come to Verizon with mmWave 5G for the same price, at a later date. The Pixel 4a (5G) will be available unlocked in November for $499, in black or white. Verizon will sell a version with mmWave 5G for $600, and will start taking pre-orders for that version October 29th.
A new alliance of app developers have come together to form the Coalition for App Fairness. The new organization will pressure Apple and Google to change their app-store policies and commission rates to be more favorable to developers. The group includes Epic Games (developers of Fortnite), Spotify, Basecamp, and the developers of Tinder and ProtonMail. The group claims that Apple and Google collect excessive commissions and give unfair advantages to their own products and services. One specific demand is the ability to use third-party payment services for certain transactions. The nonprofit group is registered in Washington, DC and plans to push for legal and regulatory changes governing how the companies operate app stores.
Google has announced the Android 11 version of Android Go, the special edition of Android tailored for the most affordable devices with limited memory specs. While previous versions of Android Go were targeted at phones with just 1 GB of RAM, Android 11 (Go edition) will also be made available to phones with up to 2 GB of RAM. This change accommodates features such as fingerprint readers and dual cameras, which are increasingly common on entry-level phones, and require extra RAM. In version 11, apps now launch 20% faster. Google also continues to shave down the RAM and storage required by the OS itself, making available 270 MB more RAM for apps, and 900 MB additional free storage space. The new OS includes many of the key features of standard Android 11, including new privacy controls and a dedicated notification area for conversations. Android 11 (Go edition) will be available starting next month.
Google is launching Android 11 today, having completed the beta period. The new OS will begin rolling out today on select Pixel and OnePlus phones, with more partners launching and upgrading devices over the coming months. Key features of Android 11 include:
- New treatment for "conversation"-related notifications from messaging apps, including a dedicated area in the Notifications shade, and Bubbles, which lets you briefly view a conversation thread as a pop-up overlay, without leaving the app you're in.
- Privacy improvements, including the ability to grant apps one-time access to sensitive permissions, an "auto-reset" of permissions for apps that haven't been used in a while, and an extra steps required to enable background access to location. Google will also start requiring that developers obtain explicit permission from Google before their app is allowed to ask for background access to location.
- A revamped screen when the lock button is pressed provides quick access to smart-home device controls.
- Support for digital IDs, including digital driver's licenses.
- Support for wireless Android Auto on all phones.
- New media controls that make it easier to switch output device.
- New screenshot tools, including built-in screen recording on all phones. On Pixel phones, Android 11 brings a new feature when taking a screenshot that lets you easily copy an image or text to the clipboard instead.
- For phones linked to a company network, the personal/work Profiles features has several improvements. New Personal/Work tabs have been added to several places including the Share pop-up sheet. A new API available to apps will allow certain apps to present both work and personal data together, while protecting both company data and employee privacy. Google Calendar will support this feature, and third-party apps will be able to support it as well.
- New APIs allowing apps to better support new display technologies, including "waterfall" displays that wrap around the side, and variable refresh rates.
Google is making its own Phone app available to "even more Android devices" starting this week. Google's Phone app offers Google's unique Verified Calls feature, which shows the caller’s name, logo, reason for calling and a verification symbol indicating the business has been authenticated by Google for incoming calls from participating businesses. The Google Phone app comes pre-loaded on Pixel and select other Android phones, but many manufacturers pre-load their own Phone app on their phones. Google's app hasn't been made available to most such phones before now.
Google and Apple are updating their COVID-19 Exposure Notification system to support US states that have yet to develop their own Exposure Notification app. While the initial release of Exposure Notifications required countries or states to release their own app supporting the system, the new Exposure Notifications Express removes that requirement. States must still opt in to the system, but once they do, most iOS and Android phones in that state will receive a push notification inviting them to opt in to the system. On iOS, opting in will activate the new Exposure Notifications Express feature built in to the just-released iOS 13.7. Android users opting in will be prompted to download an app from Google to enable the feature. As with all variants of Exposure Notifications, privacy is protected since personal-identifying and location data is neither collected nor sent to states. Instead, randomly-generated ID numbers are exchanged with nearby phones via short-range Bluetooth, to keep track of which phones are near which other phones, and for how long. When someone enrolled in the system self-reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19, others enrolled in the system that have been near that person are notified, so they can seek testing. Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have already announced that they will participate, while six states have already released their own apps to enable Exposure Notifications.
Google today released a new "feature drop" update for its Pixel Buds true wireless earbuds, adding a number of new features. With the new Attention Alerts feature, the Buds will now actively listen for specific outside sounds that may be important — such as dog barks, baby cries, and emergency vehicle sirens — and automatically lower the volume so you can safely remain aware of your surroundings. A new "transcribe" mode for language translation will continuously translate from one language to another and speak the translation into your ears. This one-way mode is ideal for understanding lectures or tour guides, unlike the existing "conversation mode" for back-and-forth interaction. Transcribe mode is initially available for translating English into Spanish, French, German, and Italian. Another new feature gives each Bud individual volume controls when sharing one bud with another person. Google has also added a new Bass Boost option. Finally, the Find My Device function can now display the last known location of your Pixel Buds on a map. Pixel Buds are available from Google for $179.
Epic Games, the maker of popular battle royale game Fortnite, has filed suit against Apple and Google for anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior related to their app store policies. Epic is challenging the companies' monopolies on both app purchases and in-app purchases on their respective mobile platforms, and their 30% cut of such purchases. Instead of monetary damages, Epic is asking the courts to force the companies to change their policies. In apparent preparation for the suit, this morning Epic started offering a discount for players who purchased in-app content directly from Epic, instead of via the standard in-app purchase systems provided on iOS and Android, in violation of Apple and Google's policies. Apple quickly responded by pulling Fortnite from the App Store. Google pulled Fortnite from its Play Store hours later. Epic initially resisted listing Fortnite in Google's Play Store in protest of these policies, before relenting this April. Fortnite can still be installed on Android phones by working around the Play Store, but it can no longer be installed on iOS devices. Existing installations on both platforms still function for now.
Google has added several major features to Lookout, its app that uses computer vision to help people who are blind or low-vision. The new features include the ability to scan longer documents into readable text, identify food products from their labels, and automatic flash. The updated Lookout app is available now for Android 6+ devices with over 2 GB of RAM.
Google has updated its own Clock app with a Bedtime tab to help users maintain a consistent sleep schedule. The feature initially debuted on Pixel phones, but is now available for all Android (version 6+) phones. The new tab includes the ability to track your screen time at night, fall asleep to a variety of soothing sounds, and wake up more gently with visual cues from the Sunrise Alarm and your favorite sounds or song. It works in concert with the Bedtime features built into the Android OS, which remind you when it's time for bed and limit interruptions by keeping your phone dark and quiet while you sleep.
Google is launching two new earthquake-related features on Android today. First, Google is enabling Android phones in California to receive alerts from the state's ShakeAlert early-detection network. In many cases, the notifications can give users a few seconds of warning before an earthquake, enough time to find cover. Second, Google has launched its own earthquake-detection system that uses the accelerometers in Android phones. Starting today, if "the phone detects something that it thinks may be an earthquake, it sends a signal to our earthquake detection server, along with a coarse location of where the shaking occurred. The server then combines information from many phones to figure out if an earthquake is happening." Eventually, Google plans to use this new data to power a notification system like the one in California. But initially, the system will only feed Google search results for searches such as "earthquake" or "earthquake near me".
Google has added a Calendar app to Android Auto, and is working to allow navigation, parking, and EV charging apps from third-party developers. The Calendar app makes it easy to get driving directions to locations saved in calendar events, and call phone numbers saved with events. The company has also added a new Settings app to Android Auto. For the additional categories, Google is working with developers such as ChargePoint, SpotHero and Sygic to launch beta apps by the end of this year. The move follows Apple's announcement in June that it will allow parking, EV charging, and fast food ordering apps in CarPlay with the launch of iOS 14.