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Google to release Android password check, messaging features

Google plans to release the latest features for the Android OS gradually. The updates include password checking, text message scheduling and better message dictation.

Google has developed Android OS features to keep passwords more secure, make it easier to dictate messages and provide the option of text message scheduling.

The company unveiled this week a slate of improvements to the mobile OS. Google plans to release them gradually: Some Android users will get the latest features immediately, while others will have to wait.

One of the features, Password Checkup, is for devices running Android 9 and above. It flags passwords that are on Google's list of stolen credentials. Password Checkup is available to only people who use Android's password manager.

Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller said the feature is timely, given the increased emphasis on cybersecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers are receiving more emails at a time when burnout is high, so they are more apt to be tricked by a phishing attempt.

"Password phishing is alive and well during the pandemic," he said.

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Google will make text message scheduling available in Android 7 or higher. The new feature within Android's Messages app lets people send texts through a scheduling prompt by holding down the "send" button.

Forrester Research analyst Andrew Hewitt said remote workers could use the latest Messages feature to schedule late-night texts for the workday. "Having respect for other people's working hours will be more important in the future" if the number of remote workers remains high after the pandemic, he said.

Google has improved the use of Google Assistant by making dictated messages easier to read from farther away before sending.

Google has tweaked Android in recent months to support businesspeople. Android 11, released in fall 2020, aimed to keep work and private data separate. The developer preview for Android 12, which came out this month, also focuses on privacy and security.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering end-user computing topics such as desktop management. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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