- Google is rolling out multiple Android updates, including earthquake alerts and detection.
- There are also tools to help the blind and emergency callers.
- Further updates bring a new calendar app for Android Auto and wider access to bedtime features.
Google is bringing more helpful features to Android devices, and some of them might save lives.
To start, it’s rolling out systems to both alert you to and detect earthquakes. The ShakeAlert-based warning technology uses seismometer data to warn you about quakes as soon as they’re detected, potentially giving you valuable seconds to take cover. It’s only available in California for now.
The detection system uses your phone’s accelerometer to help form an earthquake detection network. If your phone detects the possible first wave of an earthquake, it sends data to a Google quake detection server that uses crowdsourced info to determine if there are tremors. The info will initially create a view of an impacted area when you search Google for “earthquake” or “earthquake near me” — whether or not you contributed data, you should get more accurate resources for coping with a quake’s aftermath.
Other additions could be vital as well. Google’s Lookout accessibility app for Android has been updated to run on all devices running Android 6.0 or later and 2GB of RAM, not just Pixel phones. It also has new Food Label and Scan Document foods to help the blind and low-vision community identify groceries and read mail. It’s also expanding to support French, Italian, German, and Spanish.
Android’s Emergency Location System, meanwhile, can share your device language when you place an emergency local call, ensuring that you get help from people who can understand you. It’s available on any phone running Android 4.1 or newer with Google Play Services.
There are some not-quite-so-essential upgrades. Android Auto has a new calendar app to help you quickly get directions and make calls from events, while a settings app lets you tweak preferences directly on your car’s touchscreen. Google is also expanding the Bedtime tab in the Clock app to all devices running Android 6.0 or newer, giving you a built-in way to manage your sleep schedule, wind down at night and play relaxing sounds.
Read more: The best earthquake apps for Android