Google is today announcing the next batch of new software features coming to its Pixel smartphones. After adding car-crash detection last year, the company is expanding upon its personal safety features with a new “safety check” tool that’s designed to make sure you’re okay if you’re out somewhere alone — for a walk or run, perhaps.
When you enable the feature, you set a time for when you want it to check in. When that time comes, safety check takes over your whole screen and asks for your status. You can dismiss the prompt and say you’re okay, start sharing your location with emergency contacts immediately, or dial 911. If there’s no response within a minute, safety check will automatically notify your emergency contacts and provide your location on Google Maps. There’s no option for it to automatically call 911 — likely to prevent false positives.
Even with the small possibility of accidental emergency texts to friends, this seems like a very useful safety measure. There’s no equivalent for safety check built into iOS, and it’s a continuation of Google expanding further into the area of personal safety after introducing car-crash detection last year. And now that effort is coming to older Pixels: the Personal Safety app will soon be available for all of them.
The other new big addition is a bedtime mode that’s being added to the clock app. “Fall asleep to calming sounds and limit interruptions while you sleep — and if you stay up on your phone past bedtime, you’ll get a snapshot of how much time you’re spending awake and on which apps,” Google wrote in its blog post.
Next up is a nice convenience for people who often rely on Google’s Recorder app. Now, you can use Google Assistant to start recordings (or search from your existing ones). Better still, you can automatically get transcripts of your recordings in Google Docs. It’s always nice to see more cohesion between Google’s services and apps.
Last, Google is improving the adaptive battery functionality. “Now, Adaptive Battery on Pixel 2 and newer devices can predict when your battery will run out and further reduce background activity to keep your Pixel powered longer.”