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Android update: Star important messages, better voice controls and more

In philosophy, the subject of desire has been studied at great lengths. German philosopher Immanuel Kant reasoned that people should forgo desire and instead act on reason. If you desire Android 12, the only reasonable thing to do is try out the new features Google just unveiled.

The 12th iteration of the hugely popular Android operating system isn’t expected to be released for another few months. To satisfy the cravings of those waiting with bated breath, several new features were just released to tide users over.

Last week Google released Pixel-specific updates in a Pixel Drop, and it’s now the turn for the rest of the Android ecosystem to get additional features. Here are some of the exciting new add-ons.

Starring messages

Android Starred messages
Courtesy of Google/YouTube

Users of the WhatsApp messaging system will be familiar with the ability to star certain messages for importance. Google has updated its Messages app so that users can do the same. Just tap and hold your message, then star it. To only see starred messages, tap on the Starred category.

More voice-enable apps

Doing things hands-free has fast become the regular way to interact with your device. For this reason, Google has added voice functionality to more of your favorite apps. A comprehensive list isn’t available at the time, but the company gave an example of asking Google to pay your bills with your device, then opening your payments app.

Improved Password Input

For people struggling to type on a mobile keyboard, Google has upgraded the Voice Access functions to make inputting passwords easier. Individual words can be spelled out with punctuation marks and symbols, increasing security. Gaze detection can now be set to only activate when you are looking at the screen.

Predictive emojis and stickers

Android Emoji Kitchen
Courtesy of Google

Earlier this year, Google introduced a new section on Gboard called Emoji Kitchen and displayed a list of your most-used emojis. With today’s update, the company also rolled out contextual emojis. This means that you will see predictive emojis of sorts. The Gboard will show a selection of emojis it thinks will go with the conversation.

Added customization for Android Auto

Android Auto
Courtesy of Google

Google has been making numerous changes to Android Auto, and this update includes the ability to personalize your launcher screen directly from your phone. In the media app, tabs have been added to make browsing easier and several different searching and organizing features.

Android Earthquake Alerts System

First tested in New Zealand and Greece, Google is including more countries that can make use of the Android Earthquake Alerts System. The app sends alerts seconds before an earthquake is about to strike, giving people some time to get to safety. The system isn’t available in the U.S. yet, as Google said it is prioritizing countries with higher earthquake risks.

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