GOOGLE INTRODUCES EARTHQUAKE ALERT SYSTEM, END-TO-END ENCRYPTION FOR INSTANT MESSAGING APP AND MORE

Google announced six new features for Android users. The search engine giant has added these features to Messages, its instant messaging app. Some of the features include end-to-end encryption, smooth access to emojis, and more. One of the announcements by Google was the end-to-end chat encryption of the RCS chats sent through the Messages app. Rolled out selectively in beta mode in November 2020, Google will release it for everyone with RCS access.

All the encrypted messages will have a lock icon alongside the send button whenever users click it. Google also says that the feature will only be available for one-on-one conversations. So the group chats may have to wait for the feature at the moment. A concern, however, lies in the fact that many people you text may not have RCS access or may not be using the Messages app.

“Today, we’re welcoming summer with six updates for your Android that focus on safety — so you’re protected at every turn,” the blog mentions Fiona Lee, Program Manager for Android, as saying.

Another feature added is to allow the users to “star” the messages to save. Similar to WhatsApp, the starred messages will appear in a separate section in the app. The feature will be updated in a few weeks.

An earthquake alert system will also be rolled out by Google in more countries. The feature is currently available in Greece and New Zealand. It will now be extended to countries like The Philippines, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan. As per Google, it is set to launch the Earthquake Alerts feature in countries with higher earthquake risks but will extend it to other countries over time.

Google’s Voice Access app will take commands only when the users look into the screen. In addition, voice access will allow users to enter their passwords and translating texts. The feature is currently in beta mode and will be rolled out for all users soon.

Google Assistant features have also been updated. For example, the users can now ask Google Assistant to open any app on their phone by giving commands like, “Hey Google, pay my Capital One bill.”

Lastly, Google has unveiled a new section in Emoji Kitchen stickers to allow users to access the recently-used stickers. Besides, Contextual Emoji Kitchen suggestions will be rolled out in Gboard beta today, followed by its access to all Gboard users later this year. The sticker suggestions will be available for messages written in English, Portuguese, and Spanish on Android 6.0 devices and above.

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