Category Archives: Android Blog

News and notes from the Android team

How Android protects you from scams and phishing attacks

Cybercriminals are targeting smartphones and tablets more than ever before. That’s because people are spending more time on their mobile devices, and they’re using them to send and store significant amounts of valuable data — like banking information, healthcare data and passwords. Cybercriminals are also targeting mobile devices because of their smaller screen sizes and frequent app and messaging notifications, which make it more difficult to verify if a sender is legitimate.

These criminals are increasingly using phishing attacks, scams and malware to obtain sensitive financial information or account passwords. In fact, during the pandemic, phishing attacks grew by 600% and became the top infection method in 2021.

Phishing attempts can come from a variety of sources like emails, text messages, voice calls and even third-party messaging apps. So it’s critical to have a layered security approach in place to defend from many angles. To help ensure we’re providing strong protection on Android, we hired a third-party security lab to evaluate our features and functionality that help protect you from scam and phishing attacks on your mobile devices. The report concluded that Android devices provide more features for scam and phishing protection than other mobile operating systems[15bb22].

For Cybersecurity Awareness Month, let’s take a closer look at these features and ways you can further protect your devices.

Avoid spam, scam and phishing attempts

Attackers often use text messages since they’re an easy channel to reach people. Messages by Google uses machine learning models to help proactively detect 1.5 billion spam, phishing and scam messages every month. It looks for known patterns and either diverts bad messages into the spam folder or warns you if it notices something suspicious.

A phone screen shows a “suspected spam” warning underneath a phone number, with the option to “report spam.”

Messages by Google detects 1.5 billion spam, phishing and scams messages every month.

Messages are analyzed with your privacy in mind, so they stay on your device and are never shared with anyone. You can, however, report a message to Google to help protect others. Gmail, the default email app on most Android phones, is also highly effective at flagging malicious messages, automatically blocking 99.9% of spam, phishing and malware.

Attackers today aren’t just using text messages and emails to phish for data. We’ve seen a 5x increase in the number of attacks involving phone calls, where a criminal tries to impersonate your bank or IT department to get you to hand over your credentials. Phone by Google provides multiple security defenses to help protect against attacks like these — from built-in caller ID and spam protection to Call Screen.

Get warned about bad links, downloads and apps

Many phishing and scam attempts try to get you to visit a malicious page impersonating a legitimate-looking site to enter your credentials, steal your social security number or download malware. Safe Browsing on Android protects 3 billion devices globally and helps warn you about potentially risky sites, downloads and extensions. It offers broad protection throughout your Android experience — from browsing on Chrome and other browsers to connecting to the web through social media apps

A red phone screen shows a warning for a website, which says “the site ahead contains malware.

Safe Browsing helps defend you from dangerous websites and malicious files whether you're on a browser or an app.

Even if you download an app outside of Google Play, Google Play Protect checks the installation and can warn you about a harmful or malicious app. Play Protect also scans all the apps on your device every day for harmful ones, even if you’re offline.

Get notified about your Google account

On Android phones running version 7.0 and up, you can use the built-in security key for additional protection. When you or someone else tries to sign into your Google account, you’ll get a notification on your phone asking to confirm that it’s you.

And it’s always good to regularly do a Security Checkup, which you can access right from your device settings. It’ll provide personalized security tips for your account, remind you to keep your passwords up to date, and share what devices you’re currently signed in on and what apps have access to your data.

Learn more about how you and your data are safer with Google on Android devices.

Source: Android

10 new reasons to love Messages by Google

We use messaging apps to feel connected, without the headache of needing to know what phone or network we’re on. That is why our focus with Messages by Google is to help you build connections. It’s also built around RCS, a modern messaging protocol that supports richer text features, higher resolution images and videos, and enables end-to-end encryption. With RCS, we can give everyone a secure and modern messaging experience. We continue to advocate for RCS across the industry so key players #GetTheMessage and make the experience better for everyone.

As RCS adoption accelerates, we’re doing what’s possible to improve messaging between Android and iOS, like adding support for reactions. This builds on a suite of features that you already love, like an organized inbox that separates personal and business messages, the ability to share sharper videos and scheduled messages. And we’re doing even more.

Here are 10 ways Messages is evolving with safer, smarter and more modern features.

1. Ever been in a chat where the conversation with friends is flowing and you’re catching up with tons of messages? Soon you’ll be able to respond to an individual message in a conversation when RCS is enabled, making it easier to respond to a specific message without breaking the flow.

2. Earlier this year, we started displaying emoji reactions from iPhone users on your Android phone. Now we’re taking a step further by letting you react to SMS texts from iPhone users with emoji as well. While RCS is the ultimate solution, we're doing what we can to help Android users have a way to consistently react to messages.

3. We’re making voice messages more accessible. Using machine learning, Voice Message Transcription auto-transcribes the message so you can access it with ease. Say you’re in a crowded space and get an audio message from a loved one: transcripts will let you “view” the audio like you would a traditional text message. In addition to Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, this feature is also available on Pixel 6, Pixel 6A, Pixel 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy Fold 4.

4. Reminders are now included directly in Messages to help you remember important moments without navigating across several apps on your phone. Remind yourself to call Mom on her birthday, or schedule that appointment during regular business hours. And if you save someone’s birthday or anniversary in your phone’s contacts app, you’ll get a gentle reminder about them when you open the Messages app.

5. You can now watch YouTube videos within Messages without ever leaving the app. So when someone sends you a YouTube link, you can quickly watch and respond without the hassle of switching back and forth.

6. If you are like me and always scrolling through messages endlessly to find the address that your friend sent you a while back, we got you covered. Messages will now intelligently suggest you “star” messages that contain texts like addresses, door codes and phone numbers to help you easily keep track and quickly find important conversations.

7. Sometimes texting is too slow and impersonal, so you need to get yourself on a video call. Messages will recognize texts like “Can you talk now?” and suggest a Meet call by showing an icon right next to the message. It will also suggest adding calendar events for messages like “Let’s meet at 6pm on Tuesday”, to help you stay on top of important events.

8. In some countries, we’re experimenting with a feature that lets you chat with businesses you found on Search and Maps directly through Messages, so all conversations appear in one place that’s searchable, private and secure. You can plan your next trip, score tickets to the big game and find deals from your favorite retailers — all without leaving the Messages app.

9. Messages work across your favorite devices, from your phone to Chromebook to your smartwatch. Try sending a message from your new Pixel Watch by asking Google Assistant.

10. Your messaging apps should work wherever you are—even in the air! That's why we partnered with United Airlines to offer messaging on United flights, when you have RCS turned on. It will be available on United WiFi for most carriers starting this fall, with broader support coming soon.

A fresh new look

We’re updating the Messages icon over the coming weeks to better reflect today's modern messaging experience and share the same look as many of Google's other products. It takes more than one side to have a conversation, and that’s reflected in the design, with overlapping messaging bubbles coming together as one.

Our Phone and Contacts apps will also be updated with the same look and feel to signal their shared purpose: helping you communicate.

Each is designed to adapt to Material You themes, so they can always match your personal style. And of course, we obsessed over every pixel to ensure these new icons are instantly recognizable as communication tools and accessible to everyone.

There’s more to come as we continue to build new tools and features into the app — all with the safety and security of Google. Download the Messages app on Google Play today to give it a spin, and try out the new features that will begin rolling out in the coming weeks.

Source: Android

Android 13 (Go edition): Easier to update and tailored just for you

When we introduced Android (Go edition) five years ago, we tailored our core mobile platform to power affordable phones with limited memory and storage. This need is just as pertinent today, with nearly 180 million people coming online in the last twelve months alone.

As we announce the release of Android 13 (Go edition), we’re marking a milestone, too: there are now over 250 million monthly active devices powered by Android Go.

To better serve this growing set of users, we focused on three critical qualities: reliability, usability and customization. Let’s walk through what’s new in this release.

Get direct software updates

Updating the software in a phone takes a lot of storage space, which most entry-level devices can’t afford to lose. With Android 13 (Go edition), we’re bringing Google Play System Updates to Go devices which helps ensure devices can regularly receive important software updates, outside of the major Android release. This will make the delivery of critical updates quick and simple without compromising storage availability on the device. The result is a phone that stays up to date over time — and you don’t have to wait for the next release or a software push from your phone’s manufacturer to have the latest and greatest.

Discover content just for you

Android (Go edition) has built-in intelligence that helps you get more from your phone. This release brings you the Discover feature, letting you swipe right from your home screen to see a curated list of articles and other content.

Tailor your phone’s look

Four images of phones showing the Material You UI and wallpaper color theming on Android Go devices

Everyone should be able to adjust their phone to fit their needs and to reflect their tastes. This new release brings Material You to Android Go for the first time, so you can customize your entire phone’s color scheme to coordinate with your wallpaper. When you set your wallpaper image, you’ll see four corresponding color schemes to choose from. Besides making for a beautiful home screen, the dynamic coloring really helps make your smartphone feel unique to you.

In addition to the new features that are tailored to the needs of Go users, this update also brings some of key Android 13 features like Notification Permissions, App Language Preferences and more. Our goal with this release is to support more possibilities for the millions of current and future owners of an Android Go device. Look out for new devices launching with Android 13 (Go edition) in 2023.

Source: Android

A new look and feel for Chrome on Android tablets

Tablets let you browse the web at home or on the go, whether you’re shopping for a new TV or finishing up some work. With the next release of Chrome on Android, we make it easier to navigate between tabs and get work done faster on your tablets.

Here’s a closer look at the latest Chrome updates available now on all Android tablets, and on the new Pixel Tablet, when it launches next year.

Easily find the tab you’re looking for

It can sometimes be challenging to grab the right tab on a smaller screen, especially when you have a bunch of tabs open. That’s why we added a new side-by-side design that makes finding the right tab easier in Chrome. If you’re switching back and forth between two tabs, the auto-scroll back feature can help you swipe back to your previous tab. And to help prevent you from accidentally closing tabs in the first place, we’ll hide the close button when tabs become too small. If you close a tab you didn’t intend to, one-step restore can get you right back to where you were.

GIF image of Chrome browser split screen with Google Calendar  on an Android tablet. Despite the smaller real estate, the user is able to more easily switch between tabs.

View your tabs through the visual tab grid

If you constantly have lots of open tabs, the visual tab grid is perfect for you. Instead of searching through all your tabs in one single horizontal stream, tabs are shown in a grid, with a preview that helps you navigate with fewer taps. Visual tabs also help if you have a foldable device, because the smaller, folded screen on the outside matches the bigger screen on the inside of your tablet.

GIF image of Chrome browser’s new visual tab grid to help people find the tab they are looking for.

Drag and drop out of Chrome

To help you share and save content while you browse, you can now easily drag images, text and links that spark your interest from Chrome and drop them into another app like Gmail, Photos or Keep.

GIF of Chrome browser on an Android tablet where the user is dragging and dropping an image from one website to a new screen.

Easily browse in desktop mode

Sometimes, a website on a tablet just doesn't feel the same as it does on your computer. If a website isn’t working the way it should on your tablet or you just prefer the desktop experience, you can set Chrome to always request and display the desktop version of the site. This may give you capabilities that are currently only found on the desktop version, like certain menus and buttons.

Use tab groups on your tablet

If you use Chrome on your computer, you probably already know how convenient tab groups are. Keep an eye out — tab groups are coming soon to Chrome on Android tablets. You'll be able to stay organized by grouping related tabs together so you can better focus on one task without seeing the clutter from other open tabs.

No matter if you prefer using a mouse, a stylus or your finger, the Chrome on Android experience should be as intuitive and familiar on tablets as on your computer or phone. We're constantly exploring new ways to make it easier and more enjoyable to use Chrome on your Android tablet — whether it’s easier navigation with the visual tab grid, switching to desktop mode or finding the tab quickly.

Source: Android