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Here are the new Android 15 features announced at Google I/O 2024

By Cheryl Tan - on 16 May 2024, 9:27am

Here are the new Android 15 features announced at Google I/O 2024

Source: Google.

Another year, another Google I/O developer conference. Building on last year, the I/O Conference 2024 clearly shows Google building on and improving its AI features, with the tech company’s smartphone operating system, Android 15, also a big star of the show. Here are some of the new Android 15 features that we can look forward to. 

Ask Photos

Source: Google.

Ask Photos has to be one of the major highlights of Android 15. Building on existing search functions for photos, you’ll be able to look for specific shots more easily, thanks to Gemini, Google’s AI model. Prompts like “Show me the best cat photos I’ve taken over the last year” will be able to pull up relevant images, instead of just showing every single photo that has a cat inside. 

Gemini AI

That’s not all the AI Google is putting into Android 15, though. Circle to Search, a feature which launched at Samsung’s Unpacked event previously, has been updated with full-screen translation. Google’s Gemini is also included in Android 15, and plenty of other AI features are also coming to Android smartphones.

Camera extensions and low light boost

Users will get more control over camera hardware on supported devices, with upgrades to Camera Extensions allowing apps to tweak settings including boosting the brightness of the preview image, flash intensity adjustments and more. Low Light Boost is also introduced in Android 15, allowing for enhanced capabilities like scanning QR codes in low light.

HDR headroom control

Source: Google.

HDR headroom control on Android 15 will allow the device to choose HDR headroom depending on the content. For example, if there’s a webpage with mostly SDR content and a single HDR image, it could negatively affect the perceived brightness of the content. Therefore, apps can now set their desired headroom to avoid such issues.

Pixel devices as high-quality PC webcams

Pixel devices will soon be able to be a proper high-quality webcam option for PC users, with a new High-Quality Webcam mode available when the USB webcam feature is activated on a Pixel phone. Activating this HQ mode disables any power optimisations and significantly improves video quality, although it comes with the downside of increased battery drain and heat output.

App archiving

If your phone’s running low on storage, Android 15’s new app archiving feature could just be a godsend. Instead of having to uninstall an app completely and possibly lose user data, Android 15 will be able to archive an installed app package to remove the APK and cached files while retaining user data. If an archived app is tapped on, it can download the working files again and unarchive the app without losing user data. 

Sensitive notifications

With phone hacking and scams becoming more common, digital security on our phones needs to be beefed up. Some apps do it a little more securely with in-app notifications and verifications, but plenty of services still use the standard text or email, which can be intercepted and viewed via screen recordings or screen share. Android 15 will attempt to protect against that with a new Sensitive Notifications feature that prevents malicious Android apps from reading one-time passwords (OTP). 

Private Space

If you’ve ever handed your phone to a friend or family member, you might have been worried about them accessing private information. The new Private Space feature allows for a separate area to be created on a phone that can be locked with a separate PIN, providing extra security for important apps and information

Theft Detection Lock

On the safety side of things, Android 15’s new Theft Detection Lock feature uses AI to detect snatch theft of phones, locking the screen quickly. If the phone is disconnected for a prolonged period of time or if excessive failed unlock attempts are made, Offline Device Lock will automatically lock the screen even if the device isn’t connected.

Remote Lock

If your phone has been stolen and you can’t remotely lock or wipe it via Find My Device because you can’t remember your Google account credentials, the new Remote Lock feature will allow you to lock the screen with just your phone number and a security challenge so you have time to recover the account details and access more options. 

Real-time scam alerts

Thanks to Gemini Nano, the built-in, on-device foundation model, Android 15 is able to provide real-time alerts during a call if conversation patterns associated with scams are detected. This processing happens on-device, so conversations will be kept private.

Under-the-hood updates

Under the hood, there are a bunch of new changes as well. 

Source: Google.

For workaholics, the PDF renderer API has been improved, with apps being able to use features like rendering password-protected files, annotations, form editing and more with faster local PDF viewing. These changes are supported all the way back to Android 11, which is nice.

Another QOL feature is Saved App Pairs, which allows for two apps to be paired together so that they open together by default in a split-screen combo. 

Android 15 also improves on the Android Dynamic Performance Framework (ADPF), a set of APIs that allow games and intensive apps to interact more directly with Android devices' power and thermal systems. New capabilities have been added, such as a power-efficiency mode that plays nicely with long-running background workloads. 

There’s now support for the AV1 codec via VideoLAN's dAV1d AV1 software decoder, meaning that devices that don’t have built-in AV1 hardware will still be able to decode relevant video content. 

Payments are set to be smoother as well, with Android 15’s new APIs allowing Android devices to listen to NFC readers without responding, thus making payment verifications possible before the chip registers it.

Android 15 Beta 2 is now out for testing, and we reckon it'll be ready for a general roll out before the Pixel 9 shows up later this year.

Source: Google (1) (2)

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