Category Archives: Android Blog

News and notes from the Android team

Highlights from the Google for Games Developer Summit

This week, we hosted the Google for Games Developer Summit, a free digital event for game developers, publishers and advertisers to come together globally. Though we couldn’t meet in person, we’re grateful for the chance to share our latest solutions for developers to create immersive and memorable gaming experiences for players everywhere.

All keynotes and sessions from the summit are available on demand. Here are a few things we discussed during our keynote sessions:

Easier game development on Android

The new Android Game Development Kit can help make game development easier while Play as you download and the new Reach and devices data and insights tool can help get your games running on more screens and drive your launch success on Google Play.

Graphic illustration with Android logo, games controller, and user interface.

Get the most out of your games on Stadia 

Bringing games to Stadia is now even easier. We revealed new initiatives coming soon that will maximize the return on launching Stadia titles, including an affiliate marketing program, sharing monthly Stadia Pro subscription revenue with partners and an updated revenue share split for new transactional games launching under the new Stadia terms.

Drive lasting business revenue and growth with Ads

This past year, we have seen more people than ever play online games, which means there’s a growth opportunity to build a more sustainable games business. Get players back to your game while focusing on profitability with target return on ad spend (tROAS) bidding for App campaigns for engagement, or maximize revenue within your game by using AdMob bidding.
Interface screenshot of target return on ad spend (tROAS) bidding for App campaigns for engagement.

tROAS bidding for App campaigns for engagement in Google Ads

Bring your game to global audiences with Google Cloud

With flexible, scalable gaming solutions like Open Saves, Google Cloud helps you serve great gaming experiences all over the world so you and your players can focus on the fun.

As more people turn to games both for entertainment and for connecting with friends and family, we’re inspired by how the gaming community thrived this past year. That’s why we’re more committed than ever to help take your games to the next level.

Source: Android


A new Android smartphone and 5G partnership with Jio

Editor’s note: Today, we announced the next steps in our partnership with Jio Platforms, including a new, affordable Jio smartphone built with an optimized version of Android OS and a new 5G collaboration powered by Google Cloud. The following is adapted from remarks delivered by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, at Reliance Industries’ Annual General Meeting today.


Thank you to everyone at Reliance Industries for all you do for India — from investing in infrastructure and technology to creating jobs and expanding opportunity to supporting communities in need, especially in this difficult moment for the country.


It’s been devastating to see the country hit so hard by COVID-19. Yet it’s heartening to see how Reliance has stepped up to contribute to the national response and get support to the communities that need it most. On behalf of all of us at Google: We hope you are taking care and we are wishing for better days ahead.


For Google, the past year has brought renewed purpose and greater urgency to our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. At a time when so many aspects of our lives and work are moving online, it’s even more important to make technology accessible and helpful for everyone. 


This goal is at the heart of our partnership with Reliance Jio. I was proud to help launch this partnership last year. It was the first and biggest equity investment from the ₹75,000 crore ($10 billion) Google for India Digitization Fund.


Our vision was to bring affordable access to information for Indians in their own language, to build new products and services for India’s unique needs, and to empower businesses with technology.


I’m excited that today, we can announce the next steps in this vision, starting with a new, affordable Jio smartphone, created with Google. Our teams have optimized a version of our Android OS especially for this device. It will offer language and translation features, a great camera, and support for the latest Android updates.


It is built for India and it will open up new possibilities for millions of new users who will experience the internet for the very first time. And we can’t wait to show you the device later this year.


I’m also proud to announce that we are taking our collaboration further with a new 5G partnership between Google Cloud and Jio.


It will help more than a billion Indians connect to a faster and better internet, support businesses in their digital transformation, and help Jio build new services in sectors like health, education and more — laying a foundation for the next phase of India’s digitization.  

As part of this collaboration, Reliance will also shift its core retail businesses to Google Cloud’s infrastructure. They will be able take advantage of Google’s AI and machine learning, e-commerce, and demand forecasting offerings. Harnessing the reliability and performance of Google Cloud will enable these businesses to scale up as needed to respond to customer demand. 

Empowering businesses as they embark on their digital transformation is a key part of our mission in India, and I’m excited for the innovations this partnership will help unleash. We are proud to play a part in India’s next wave of technological innovation. 


Helping to connect 1.3 billion Indians to the opportunities the internet creates is meaningful to all of us at Google — and certainly to me personally. I know that with greater access to smartphones and improved connectivity, there’s no limit to what India’s people can do. 


We look forward to getting technology into the hands of more people and to exploring what more we can achieve together in the years ahead. 

Source: Android


Introducing Android Earthquake Alerts outside the U.S.

In a natural disaster or emergency, every second counts. For example, when it comes to earthquakes, studies show that more than 50% of injuries can be prevented if users receive an early warning, and have the critical seconds needed to get to safety. That's why last year, we launched the Android Earthquake Alerts System, which uses sensors in Android smartphones to detect earthquakes around the world. The free system provides near-instant information to Google Search about local seismic events when you search “Earthquake near me.”


Today we’re announcing an expansion of the Android Earthquake Alerts System that uses both the detection and alerts capabilities, bringing these alerts to Android users in countries that don’t have early warning alert systems. We’re introducing the Android Earthquake Alerts System in Greece and New Zealand, where Android users will receive automatic early warning alerts when there is an earthquake in their area. Users who do not wish to receive these alerts can turn this off in device settings.


We launched alerting in August 2020, in partnership with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and powered by ShakeAlert®, which made alerts available for Android users in California. This feature recently expanded to users in Oregon and will be rolling out in Washington this May. 


Early warning alerts in New Zealand and Greece work by using the accelerometers built into most Android smartphones to detect seismic waves that indicate an earthquake might be happening. If the phone detects shaking 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 takes this information from many phones to figure out if an earthquake is happening, where it is and what its magnitude is.


New Zealand and Greece will be the first countries to take advantage of both the detection and alert capabilities of the Android Earthquake Alerts System. Through this system, we hope to provide people with the advance notice they need to stay safe.


Source: Android


Your Android is now even safer — and 5 other new features

It wasn't all that long ago that we introduced Android users to features like Emoji Kitchen and auto-narrated audiobooks. But we like to stay busy, so today we're highlighting six of the latest Google updates that will make Android phones more secure and convenient — for everyone.

1. Keep your accounts safe with Password Checkup on Android

Password Checkup notification screen

Password Checkup notification screen

On Android, you can save passwords to your Google account, making it quicker and easier to sign into your apps and services using Autofill. Your login credentials are one of your first lines of defense against intruders, so we’ve integrated Password Checkup into devices running Android 9 and above. This feature lets you know if the password you used has been previously exposed and what to do about it.


Now when you enter a password into an app on your phone using Autofill with Google, we’ll check those credentials against a list of known compromised passwords — that is, passwords that have potentially already been stolen and posted on the web. If your credentials show up on one of these lists, we’ll alert you and guide you to check your password and change it. 


Learn more on our support page about changing unsafe passwords. And you can find additional information about how this product works in this blog post.


We’re passionate about building defense into every detail on Android, from downloading apps to browsing the web to choosing where and when you share your data. Learn more about how Android keeps you safe.

2. Use schedule send in Messages to write a text now and send it later

Schedule a text to send it at your chosen date and time

Click on the image above to learn how to schedule a text to send at your chosen date and time

Over half a billion people across the world use Messages to seamlessly and safely connect with family, friends and others every month. To continue  improving the way you communicate and help you stay in touch, we’re starting to roll out schedule send in Messages for phones running Android 7 and newer. 


Having loved ones in another time zone or on a different schedule can sometimes make it difficult to send a text at an appropriate time. With schedule send, you can compose a message ahead of time when it’s convenient for you, and schedule it to send at the right moment. Just write your message as you normally would, then hold and press the send button to select a date and time to deliver your message. Download Messages or update to the latest version to schedule your next text.

3. No need to look at your screen, with TalkBack

Start and stop media with Talkback gestures

Click on the image above to see how to start and stop media with Talkback gestures 

For those who are blind or have trouble seeing the display, the new version of TalkBack, Android’s screen reader, is now available. Using spoken feedback and gestures, TalkBack makes Android even more accessible and opens up a full phone experience without needing to look at your screen. We worked closely with the blind and low vision communities on this revamp of TalkBack to incorporate the most popularly requested features including: more intuitive gestures, a unified menu, a new reading control menu and more. Get TalkBack today by downloading or updating your Android accessibility apps in the Google Play Store.

4. Get more done hands-free with Google Assistant

Use Google Assistant to send a text, even when your phone is locked

Use Google Assistant to send a text, even when your phone is locked

We want to give you more ways to use your phone hands-free — so you can do things like use your voice to make calls, set timers or alarms and play music. Now, the latest updates to Google Assistant make it easier to get things done on your phone without needing to be right next to it.


Assistant now works better even when your phone is locked or across the room with new cards that can be read with just a glance. Just say “Hey Google, set an alarm” or “Hey Google, play pop music on Spotify.” To get the most out of Assistant when your phone is locked, simply turn on Lock Screen Personal Results in Assistant setting and say “Hey Google '' to send text messages and make calls.

5. Come to the dark side with dark theme in Google Maps 

San Francisco on Google Maps dark theme

San Francisco on Google Maps dark theme

These days, we’re all experiencing a bit of screen fatigue. With 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. Simply head to your Settings, tap on Theme and then on “Always in Dark Theme” to lower the lights when you’re navigating, exploring, or getting things done with Maps. Change your mind? Just tap on “Always in Light Theme” to switch it back.

6. A better drive with Android Auto

Stay entertained with voice-activated games on your display with Android Auto

Stay entertained with voice-activated games on your display with Android Auto

Android Auto’s new features help you enjoy the drive more. With custom wallpapers, you can now select from a variety of car-inspired backgrounds to personalize your car display. For longer drives, you and your passengers can stay entertained with voice-activated games like trivia and “Jeopardy!” Just say, “Hey Google, play a game” to get started. 


We’ve also launched shortcuts on the launch screen. These provide convenient access to your contacts and even allow you to use Assistant to complete tasks like checking the weather or remotely adjusting the thermostat by simply tapping on the icon on your car display, just as you would on your phone. For cars with wider screens, you can do more with a split-screen that features a real-time view of Google Maps and media controls. And if you have family and friends coming along for the ride, you can now set a privacy screen to control when Android Auto appears on your car display. 


These Android Auto features will be available in the coming days on phones running Android 6.0 or above, and when connected to your compatible car.

Source: Android


Our all-new TalkBack screen reader

To blind traveling bluesman Joshua Pearson, songwriting is more than just a good melody. “Songwriting gave me a language to talk about my frustrations. And by putting my music out there, I could hopefully let somebody else feel some of what I was feeling.” For Joshua, TalkBack is his main pen and paper for writing songs; it lets him dictate lyrics into his phone and hear them told back to him.


Screen readers, such as Android’s TalkBack, are the primary interface through which Joshua and many other people who are blind or low vision read, write, send emails, share social media, order delivery and even write music. TalkBack speaks the screen aloud, navigates through apps, and facilitates communication with braille, voice and keyboard input. And today we’re releasing an all-new version of TalkBack that includes some of the most highly requested features from the blind and low vision community.

Tap as you please with multi-finger gestures

We’ve added a dozen easy-to-learn and easy-to-use multi-finger gestures that are available with the latest version of TalkBack on Pixel and ​Samsung Galaxy devices from One UI 3 onwards. These gestures make it easier for you to interact with apps and let you perform common actions, such as selecting and editing text, controlling media and finding help. 

We worked closely with people in the blind and low vision community to develop these easy-to-remember gestures and make sure they felt natural. For example, instead of navigating through multiple menus and announcements to start or stop your favorite podcast, it's now as simple as double tapping the screen with two fingers. 

Read or skim with just a swipe

Reading and listening is easier with new controls that help you find the most relevant information. For instance, you can swipe right or left with three fingers to hear only the headlines, listen word-by-word or even character-by-character. And then with a single swipe up or down you can navigate through the text. 

Say what? There’s new Voice Commands 

Starting with TalkBack 9.1, you can now swipe up and right to use TalkBack’s new voice commands. TalkBack will stop talking and await your instructions. With over 25 different commands, you can say “find” to locate text on the screen or “increase speech rate” to make TalkBack speak more quickly. 

Do things your way with more customization and language options

While we put a lot of thought into this redesign, one thing we’ve learned from working with the community is that everyone interacts with their phones in their own way — which makes customization important. You can now add or remove options in the TalkBack menu or reading controls. Additionally, gestures can be assigned or reassigned to scores of settings, actions and navigation controls.

Lastly, we’re adding support for two new languages in TalkBack’s braille keyboard: Arabic and Spanish.

Joining forces for accessibility

The all-new TalkBack is the result of our collaboration with trusted testers and Samsung, who co-developed this release. ​TalkBack is now the default screen reader on all ​Samsung Galaxy devices from One UI 3 onwards, making it easier to enjoy a consistent and productive screen reader experience across even more devices.

To help everyone keep up with all the changes, we’ve created an entirely new tutorial to make it easier to make the most of TalkBack — there’s even a test pad to practice new gestures. With these new features and collaborations we hope that more people can find useful and creative ways to use TalkBack. Who knows, you might even find lyrical inspiration like Joshua. 

Source: Android


The best of Google, now in new devices

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, technology should work for you. This week during a virtual CES and Galaxy Unpacked, we were introduced to a lineup of new products that do exactly that, all with the best of Google built in.


Whether you're heading out or staying in, there's something new for you to get excited about.


When you’re on the go

The new Galaxy S21 series comes with a more cohesive Android experience and updates that make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family. From your phone, you can now mirror Google Duo to your Samsung TV, so video calls feel a little more like the real thing. With the Messages app, you can use Rich Communication Services (RCS) to chat over Wi-Fi, know when messages are read, share reactions as well as high resolution videos, and enjoy a more dynamic communication experience with features such as Smart Actions and spam protection (varies by carrier and market availability). A single swipe from your home screen will give you the option for personalized content with Discover, while our screen reader TalkBack has been revamped so that people with blindness or trouble seeing their displays can use spoken feedback and gestures to navigate their phone without having to look at the screen (varies by carrier and market availability).


We’re also working with Samsung to make it easier to manage smart home products from your device. You can control Nest devices, like Nest thermostats, cameras and doorbells, from the SmartThings app on Galaxy smartphones and tablets. See all your connected devices on one screen by tapping on "Devices" in the Quick Panel of the Galaxy S21. Starting next week, SmartThings will also be available in Android Auto, so you can do things like turn off your kitchen lights from your car’s display as you pull out of the driveway.


For parents who want a productive tablet that can easily be shared with their kids, the new Lenovo Tab P11 comes with Kids Space, our new kids mode that features recommended apps, books and videos to help kids under 9 learn and have fun. 


And to get help from your wrist, new Wear OS by Google smartwatches keep you connected wherever you are. For Android phone users in the U.S., you can send texts and make calls on Fossil's Gen 5 LTE Touchscreen Smartwatch without your phone. And Michael Kors Access Gen 5E MKGO and Gen 5E Darci smartwatches are a fashionable option for keeping track of your health and wellness, staying in touch with friends and family and even making payments.


You’ll even be able to leave your phone in your pocket when you’re outside. New headphones, including the JBL Tour ONE and Tour Pro+ and Kenwood WS-A1G come with help from Google. Simply press the earbud to send a message, access your calendar or change songs.


Of course, for those times when you’re perfectly happy...


Hanging out at home

Google TV will be available on 2021 smart TVs from Sony and TCL. Google TV is a new entertainment experience that brings together movies, shows, live TV and more from across your apps and subscriptions and organizes them just for you. You can ask “Hey Google, find action movies” or “show me sci-fi adventure TV shows” and browse a wide selection of content with your voice. In fact your voice can be used in all sorts of ways: Your LG TV (from 2019 models) can now be controlled by a Google-enabled smart speaker in 15 countries and six languages. You will also soon be able to control your Verizon Fios set top box by voice when connected with a Google-enabled smart speaker or Smart Display. And to do more on your TV, you can stay connected with your loved ones with one-on-one or group video calls with the Duo app on Samsung TV (an optional USB-camera needed).


New connected lights from LIFX, Nanoleaf and Yeelight now work with Hey Google. These new devices support Seamless setup, which makes it possible to connect compatible smart home devices directly through the Google Home app and a Nest speaker or Smart Display without the need for an additional hub or bridge. 


If you’re looking for an assist with cleaning up around the house, you can just say “Hey Google” to control the Smart MEDION’s vacuum cleaner MD 19601. To help more manufacturers bring voice capabilities like this to their smart home devices, we also recently launched the Authorized Solution Provider program. Our certified partners Tuya and CoolKit can now help manufacturers  build smart home Actions for Google Assistant. 


Whatever new device you pick out, Google will be there to help you get things done and get the most of your tech.

Source: Android


“The Mandalorian” in AR? This is the way.

In a galaxy far, far away, the Mandalorian and the Child continue their journey, facing enemies and rallying allies in the tumultuous era after the collapse of the Galactic Empire. But you don’t need a tracking fob to explore the world of the hit STAR WARS streaming series. Google and Lucasfilm have teamed up to bring iconic moments from the first season of “The Mandalorian” to life with “The Mandalorian” AR Experience (available on the Play Store for 5G Google Pixels and other select 5G Android phones) as fans follow the show’s second season. (Check your phone to see if it meets app requirements.)

Animated GIF showing a person's hand holding a Pixel phone while using the Mandalorian AR app.

From dinosaurs to astronauts, Google has been bringing objects and creatures to life with augmented reality. Now, people using compatible Android 5G devices can interact with heroes from the Mandalorian in their own space.

“The Mandalorian” AR Experience puts you in the shoes of a bounty hunter following the trail of Mando himself, Din Djarin and the Child. Explore the world of “The Mandalorian,” interact with characters in augmented reality and capture your very own scenes to share with friends.

To create this original experience, Google, Disney and Lucasfilm worked together to imagine a next-generation augmented reality app optimized for 5G devices. Our teams collaborated to build hyper-detailed models and life-like animations—all while packing scenes with fun surprises.

UsingARCore,Google’s developer platform for building augmented reality experiences, we created scenes that interact with your environment and respond to your surroundings. You can discover and unlock even more effects based on your actions. And thanks to the new ARCore Depth API, we also enabled occlusion, allowing 3D scenes to blend more naturally with our world.

Animated GIF showing the character the Mandalorian in AR standing in someone's kitchen on the screen of a Pixel phone.

New content will keep rolling out in the app each week onMando Mondays, so stay tuned—and Pixel owners should keep an eye out for additional exclusive content outside of the app as well.

Lucasfilm, the Lucasfilm logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © & ™ 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

Source: Android


Important household sounds become more accessible

Appliances beeping. Water running. Dogs barking. These are all sounds that are meant to grab your attention when something important is happening. But, if you have hearing loss or are wearing headphones, these sounds might not be able to draw your attention like they’re intended to. 


Sound Notifications is a new feature on Android that provides push notifications for critical sounds around you. Designed for the estimated 466 million people in the world with hearing loss, Sound Notifications makes important and critical household sounds more accessible with push notifications, a flash from your camera light, or vibrations on your Android phone. This feature can also be helpful if someone is unable to hear temporarily as a result of an injury, wearing earplugs or headphones.
Cropped Sound Notification.png

Receive real-time push notifications of critical sounds around you.

Sound Notifications works with other devices, including Wear OS by Google smartwatches. You can get text notifications with vibrations on your wrist when there is important noise detected by your phone. That way you can continue to get alerts about critical sounds even when you are asleep, a concern shared by many in the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Sound Notification Smartwatch.png

Receive critical sound notifications on other devices, including Wear OS by Google smartwatches.

Developed with machine learning, Sound Notifications works completely offline and uses your phone's microphone to recognize ten different noises—including baby sounds, water running, smoke and fire alarms, appliances beeping and door knocking. This expands our sound detection work in Live Transcribe which shows over 30 sound events alongside real time captions, to provide a better picture of overall sound awareness.

Timeline_Snapshot.png

Use Timeline view to scroll through a snapshot of detected sounds from the past few hours.

While we can notify you about baby sounds or dog barking, it often helps to know more about the preceding events that might have caused that disturbance. With the Timeline view, you can scroll through a brief snapshot of detected sounds from the past few hours. This shows when and how long the sound occurred to get a better sense of the sound’s importance. So if the dog has been barking because of a siren heard before that for 10 minutes, you can see that.


To start using Sound Notifications, go into Settings, then the Accessibility menu and enable Sound Notifications. If you don’t see this option on your phone, you can download both Live Transcribe and Sound Notifications from Google Play, then go to your settings and turn on Sound Notifications. To learn more about using Sound Notifications, visit the help center.

Source: Android


Important household sounds become more accessible

Appliances beeping. Water running. Dogs barking. These are all sounds that are meant to grab your attention when something important is happening. But, if you have hearing loss or are wearing headphones, these sounds might not be able to draw your attention like they’re intended to. 


Sound Notifications is a new feature on Android that provides push notifications for critical sounds around you. Designed for the estimated 466 million people in the world with hearing loss, Sound Notifications makes important and critical household sounds more accessible with push notifications, a flash from your camera light, or vibrations on your Android phone. This feature can also be helpful if someone is unable to hear temporarily as a result of an injury, wearing earplugs or headphones.
Cropped Sound Notification.png

Receive real-time push notifications of critical sounds around you.

Sound Notifications works with other devices, including Wear OS by Google smartwatches. You can get text notifications with vibrations on your wrist when there is important noise detected by your phone. That way you can continue to get alerts about critical sounds even when you are asleep, a concern shared by many in the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Sound Notification Smartwatch.png

Receive critical sound notifications on other devices, including Wear OS by Google smartwatches.

Developed with machine learning, Sound Notifications works completely offline and uses your phone's microphone to recognize ten different noises—including baby sounds, water running, smoke and fire alarms, appliances beeping and door knocking. This expands our sound detection work in Live Transcribe which shows over 30 sound events alongside real time captions, to provide a better picture of overall sound awareness.

Timeline_Snapshot.png

Use Timeline view to scroll through a snapshot of detected sounds from the past few hours.

While we can notify you about baby sounds or dog barking, it often helps to know more about the preceding events that might have caused that disturbance. With the Timeline view, you can scroll through a brief snapshot of detected sounds from the past few hours. This shows when and how long the sound occurred to get a better sense of the sound’s importance. So if the dog has been barking because of a siren heard before that for 10 minutes, you can see that.


To start using Sound Notifications, go into Settings, then the Accessibility menu and enable Sound Notifications. If you don’t see this option on your phone, you can download both Live Transcribe and Sound Notifications from Google Play, then go to your settings and turn on Sound Notifications. To learn more about using Sound Notifications, visit the help center.

Source: Android


‘Hey Google’ now works with your Android apps

Google Assistant helps people get things done every day—and for people using Android phones, mobile apps are often the best way to help with tasks. So today, we’re extending the convenience of simple Assistant voice commands to work with your favorite Android apps.

Opening and searching within Android apps using “Hey Google” is now available to all Assistant-enabled Android phones. This makes everyday tasks within an app much easier thanks to voice. For example, you can now say, “Hey Google, search cozy blankets on Etsy” and get right to what you’re looking for. Or if you’re looking for something (or someone) specific within an app, just say, “Hey Google, open Selena Gomez on Snapchat.” 

But people do a lot more with their apps beyond simply opening and searching within apps, and we want to enable voice commands to those frequent tasks, too. Now you can do things like playing music, starting a run, posting on social media, ordering food, paying back a friend, hailing a ride—the list goes on and on—all with just your voice. Starting today, you can try doing more using your voice with more than 30 of the top apps on Google Play available in english globally, with more apps coming. 

Here are a few things you can try today: 


Assistant-Partners_App-Actions.gif

And for your most common tasks, you can create custom shortcut phrases. So instead of saying “Hey Google, tighten my shoes with Nike Adapt,” you can create a shortcut to just say, “Hey Google, lace it.” You can explore suggested shortcuts or create your own by simply saying, "Hey Google, show my shortcuts" to get to the settings screen. 

Whether you want a hands-free way to use your apps or shortcuts to complete common tasks, we want to make Android and your apps even more useful and convenient—and to give you time back to enjoy what matters most.



Source: Android