All the new Android features Google just announced at I/O

During yesterday's Google I/O keynote, Google talked about some new AI features for Android, including new changes to Circle to Search and AI-powered fraud protection. A day later, Google made a slew of new Android 15 announcements, starting with Android 15 beta 2 now available.

Android 15 beta 2 is already available on quite a few smartphones

Android betas usually start with Pixel, but with Beta 2, many smartphone users can try out Android 15 early. The beta is now available on Pixel, iQOO, Lenovo, Nothing, OnePlus, OPPO, Sharp, Realme, Techno, Vivo, Xiaomi, and Honor. If you have a compatible smartphone and want to try out these new features, give the beta a try. (Just know that the beta software is not yet complete, so there is a risk of bugs and lost data.)

private space

Google calls Private Space a "digital safe inside your phone," and for good reason. The feature is located at the bottom of the app drawer and requires a second layer of authentication to access. From here, you can add any apps you want so they don't appear on your home screen or app drawer. Think health, banking, and even some messaging apps: Private spaces hide the app’s icons, data, and even notifications. The private space can be completely invisible if you wish, although it's unclear where it would live in that case.

Access selected photos

When you give an app partial access to your media, it means it can only see a selected number of photos and videos in your library. Google is enabling access to only recently selected media with Android 15 beta 2. This way, apps that frequently request photos and videos can quickly get those items without you having to constantly adjust permissions yourself.

One-time passwords are now hidden in notifications

This is a great security feature in Android 15: Malware often relies on OTP notifications to steal these codes and break into your account. Going forward, most notifications will hide these codes, so you'll need to click through to see what your OTP is. Google also said it is expanding the restrictions on requiring user approval when installing apps from the web.

Screen sharing is safer

When you share your screen in Android 15, the OS will automatically hide notifications and OTPs. It also hides the screen when you enter passwords and credit card information, and soon, more phones will have the Pixel's ability to share the screen of specific apps, rather than sharing the entire screen at once. Additionally, Google has added a more visible screen sharing icon, making it easy to disable sharing at any time.

Cellular Security Upgrade

Google is now warning you if your cellular network isn't encrypted, which could allow bad guys to eavesdrop on calls and read your text messages. Additionally, Google will warn at-risk users like journalists if fake cell towers or surveillance tools are hijacking their locations.

Updated multitasking on big screens

In recent years, Google has been working hard to optimize the Android experience on tablets. In Android 15 beta 2, you can now pin the taskbar to the screen so you can quickly access apps and split-screen app combinations.

Choose your salutation

Android will soon let you choose your desired gender and use gendered language. Google is testing the feature in French first, but it will roll out to other gendered languages ​​soon. You can choose between non-personalized, feminine, masculine or unisex.

Save items from photos to Google Wallet

Android 15 makes it easier to add passes to Google Wallet: Google says you'll soon be able to take a photo of any pass, such as a ticket, gym membership, library card, and more. From here, Android can turn it into a digital pass. Through you can save to Google Wallet. It is also able to save digital items containing barcodes and QR codes.

AR content in Google Maps

Google is rolling out augmented reality content in Google Maps with Android 15: They are rolling out AR experiences for Singapore and Paris, and may add more cities. Google wants you to use AR content to learn more about specific locations, and there's merit: If you could point your phone camera at a building in the city you're visiting and learn more, that's Very concise (but potentially controversial and a bit of an existential crisis for tour guides).

Google built-in features are expanding

Google says built-in Google features will appear in more cars, such as the Acura ZDX and Ford Explorer. Built-in adds apps from your phone to your car's built-in display, and Google says developers are working on more apps that are compatible with the service.

In addition, Google Cast will also be available in cars equipped with Android Automotive OS, starting with Rivian "in the coming months." You can stream video from your device to your car's display, which sounds great for passengers but can be dangerous for drivers.

Google TV now has Gemini

Google TV now uses Gemini to recommend content for you to watch. This includes AI-generated descriptions based on your viewing history and "actor preferences." Cool. A better use of this technology is in missing or untranslated descriptions: whenever the system encounters such a situation (which might leave you stuck in the past), the AI ​​fills in the gaps.

RCS is coming to Japan soon

Apple isn't the only company to receive RCS support this year: Google said Japan also received the deal. Details are sketchy at the moment, but soon, Android users in Japan will be able to take advantage of RCS's end-to-end encryption, high-resolution photos and videos, and full-featured group chats. (That last one shouldn't be a "feature," but, well, here we are.)

Find My Device is expanding

Google's Find My Device service is a serious competitor to Apple's Find My Device, tapping into the larger Android community to help you find your lost items. Later this month, Google says you'll be able to find things using trackers from Chipolo and Pebblebee. Later this year, companies like eufy, Jio, and Motorola will also join the Find My Device ecosystem.

Anti-theft lock (coming later this year)

One positive use of AI: Theft-detection locks, coming later this year, will sense if your phone has been stolen by looking for "theft motion." Exactly how it works is unclear, but Google says Android will lock itself if it detects your phone has been robbed and the thief tries to run away, ride a bike, or drive away.

Real-time protection against fraudulent apps (coming later this year)

Fraud is a real problem on Android. Even though Google has taken protective measures to screen apps before they hit the Play Store, there are still a lot of malicious apps that slip through the cracks. Google today announced that later this year, Google Play Protect will use on-device artificial intelligence to identify apps that may be fraudulent or engage in phishing. Play Protect will report any suspicious behavior to Google, and the company will warn you or remove the app entirely.

Google said the feature will be available in Pixel, Oppo, Honor, Lenovo, OnePlus, Nothing, Transsion and Sharp later this year.

Changes to Wear OS 5

Google says Wear OS is about to become more energy-efficient: running an outdoor marathon will use 20% less power than using Wear OS 4. In addition, your fitness app will have data points like ground contact time, stride length, and vertical oscillation, which measures how you move vertically with each step in your run. (Full disclosure: I had to look it up.)