Google’s latest Android 10 operating system landed in its Pixel phones earlier this month. Aside from no longer associating with salient dessert names, Android 10 brings six new features that you need to know right now.
Smart reply everywhere
Note: not actually from Bill Gates.
Google’s Smart Reply feature arrives for popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Signal. Smart Reply suggests responses by analyzing the incoming text message’s content, which the user can select with one tap. Its utility extends beyond communication; when it detects an address, it can provide a shortcut to open it in map services.
Later this year, Google will be bringing far more advanced local AI to Pixel phones. At its February Google I/O event, Google said it’s looking to compress 100GB of speech recognition data into just 500MB and store it on users’ phones.
Better location data controls
Android 10 brings tighter controls on app’s location access. You can now choose between “always on”, “always off”, or just “while in use”. It not only helps add to your privacy, but also saves battery life by suppressing apps from constantly pinging location services.
System-wide dark mode
A system-wide dark mode has finally arrived for stock Android. Aside from darkened UI panels, it also affects the Google App and Google Photos. Enabling dark mode has a plethora of benefits including improved battery life (for OLED displays) and reduced squinting when checking your messages at 3 a.m.
If you’re easily distracted like me, then you’d know that pesky notifications are a huge attention sink. You can global mute notifications by enabling Do Not Disturb mode, but you may also need to hear alerts from select apps. Although current versions of Android lets you toggle notifications on and off for specific apps, you’ll need to do this manually. What if you need to disable them only when you’re working?
To help you stay on track, Android 10 introduces Focus Mode as an extension of its Digital Wellbeing feature. Through it, you can select which apps to mute when Focus Mode is on, and toggle them by tapping a button from the tiles menu. This feature is still in beta and may not be available for everyone just yet.
Gesture Controls is something you either love or hate; some can’t digress from buttons, while others can’t disable them fast enough. Nevertheless, Google has baked its own set of gesture controls into Android 10. Once enabled, users can swipe up to summon the home screen, or swipe from the edge to return to a previous page.
Google Play security patches
Google is looking to fully realize Project Mainline, its plan to compartmentalize Android’s functions into modules, through Android 10. By doing so, some security updates can be distributed from the Google Play Store.
By migrating a few security updates to the Google Play Store, devices will no longer be reliant on a manufacturer’s pace to release major system updates. While it doesn’t replace the monthly Android security patches, users will have at least partial protection against pressing security flaws.
Google Play system updates are more meaningful for non-Pixel users since Google’s Pixel phones always get security patches almost instantaneously.
Aside from the six foremost features covered above, Android 10 brings a slew of interface and system-level improvements. For the full list, visit the Android 10’s detail page.