Google has announced the launch of the latest update to its Android operating system, which includes a new focus on messaging, advanced privacy features and a new call ID system to improve response to business outreach.
First off, on messaging - with more people relying on messaging to stay in touch, Google has added some new updates to the Android OS which will make it easier to stay connected as you go about different tasks.
Now, conversations across all of your various messaging apps will be displayed in a dedicated space within your notifications section, streamlining your interactions.
"You can also prioritize conversations from the key people in your life so you never miss an important message."
In addition to this, Google's also added a new 'Bubbles' system which enables users to easily switch to messaging as they use other apps by keeping your messaging 'bubble' readily available at the side of your screen as you use your device.
Google's also improved its connectivity options, making it easier to manage your Android-connected devices - including your home thermostat or lighting controls - while on the go, while it's also improved its car connectivity features and media tools.
Google's also added new privacy features, including 'one-time permissions', which enable users to grant single use access for things like your microphone, camera and location, and a new automated data access reset for your unused apps.
"If you haven’t used an app that you installed on your device in a while, you may not want it to keep accessing your data. Android will now “auto-reset” permissions for your unused apps and notify you accordingly. You can always decide to re-grant the app permissions the next time you use the app."
And for businesses, this could be handy - Google's also added a new 'Verified Calls' listing for its Google Phone app which will display a verified badge for business calls, along with a reason for the call, which could help improve response rates.
As explained by Google:
"Businesses often rely on phone calls to reach out to new customers and serve existing ones. But here’s the hang-up: customers often don’t answer the call if they don’t recognize the number. [...] Verified Calls aims to solve this problem by showing the caller’s name, logo, reason for calling and a verification symbol indicating the business has been authenticated by Google."
In testing, Google saw increased response rates for those businesses using Verified Calls, and while not everybody will be using the Google Phone app as their default, it's pre-loaded on many Android devices, and will be made more readily available for as part of the Android 11 rollout.
And one extra point of note - Google's also added an in-built screen recording feature.
"Now you can capture and share what’s happening on your phone. Record with sound from your mic, device or both - no extra app required."
That can be helpful for sharing tutorials or walk-throughs, while it also adds more creative options for video content.
There's nothing revolutionary here, but these are some interesting additions, which could encourage more interaction among Android users. Verified Calls could also be of interest to a lot of businesses who are using phone outreach.
Android 11 is being rolled out from today, while Verified Calls is initially being launched in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Spain and India, with more regions to follow.