Android 10 was launched last year in September 2019. It first was launched with Google Pixel phones but soon was made available for all the Android smartphones including Motorola Razr in Australia. If your Android smartphone still doesn’t have Android 10 then soon the new update will arrive either via a notification prompt or by going into Settings and System and System Updates and manually triggering the update yourself.
The update includes a ton of new features, ranging from a true dark mode that helps save battery life to privacy improvements and a live caption feature that’s downright cool.
Whether you just got a new phone that runs Android 10, or you recently updated and are looking for ways to take advantage of Google’s new features, here are 12 awesome features of Android 10 to explore.
1. Dark Theme
In this feature, you’ll be able to have the entire system in a darker hue and the idea is to make it easier on your eyes and save battery life, particularly on OLED phones, though the claims that dark mode reduces eye strain are unproven. Turning on the dark theme is pretty straightforward: just pull down the Quick Settings tile or access the display section in the phone’s settings. Also, the mode will automatically activate when an Android 10 phone is switched to battery-saving mode.
You can change your display to a dark background with either Dark theme or Color inversion.
To turn on Dark theme or Color inversion
- Open your device’s Settings app.
- Tap Accessibility.
- Under Display, turn on Dark theme or Color inversion.
- Dark theme applies to the Android system UI and supported apps. Colors don’t change in media, such as videos.
Color inversion applies to everything on your device, including media. For example, black text on a white screen becomes white text on a black screen. There can be issues with color quality or legibility.
If you want to use Dark theme and Color inversion together
- In Android 10 or later: If you open an app that doesn’t support Dark theme, turn on Color inversion in addition to Dark theme.
- Android 9 or earlier: You can use only one of these settings at a time. For example, if you turn on Dark theme, Color inversion automatically turns off.
2. Smart Reply
In Android 10, Google’s Smart Reply feature is available in third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Signal. This feature uses machine learning to suggest three short responses that might suit the message you received, such as a thumbs up emoji. The Android 10 version of Smart Reply can also anticipate actions and will, for instance, suggest opening up the address your friend sent you in Google Maps. Handy.
Also in messaging, there’s 65 new emoji including new “gender-inclusive” designs for haircuts, weightlifting and the sauna.
3. Enhanced location and privacy tools
Android 10 features a new dedicated location section in your phone’s privacy settings giving users more control over the location data they share with apps. This means they can choose to share location data with apps only while they’re in use, all the time or not at all and receive reminders when an app uses their location in the background. There’s also an option to opt-out of ad retargeting and personalization and all privacy settings, including location, web and app activity and app permissions, are now in one place.
Incognito is the popular feature in the Chrome browser and YouTube app, Google Maps now have a private-search mode. By turning on the feature, users can search for and navigate to places without having data saved or linked back to their Google accounts. The private search mode can be activated by tapping on the profile picture in the search bar at the top of Google Maps.
5. Focus mode
Here you can select particular apps you want to avoid during a period of time, such as messaging or news apps. Those apps become paused, grayed out and notifications are hidden. Together with app timers, the do-not-disturb mode and notifications controls, this feature will hopefully help you find some balance.
6. Live Caption
By tapping the volume button and the icon below the volume slider, Live Caption will automatically add subtitles to videos, podcasts and audio messages － even for audio that you record yourself. The real-time captions are created through on-device machine learning and will appear as soon as speech is detected, without the need for Wi-Fi or a data connection. The text box can be expanded, dragged and moved around the screen and will come in handy for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or when listening to audio in a noisy environment.
Live Caption works in English on Pixel 4, 3a, 3, and 2 phones, and selected other Android phones.
To turn Live Caption on or off:
- Press the volume button.
- Under the volume controls, tap Live Caption .
- When Live Caption is turned on, captions appear whenever you have media playing on your device.
Tips for using Live Caption:
- Expand or contract the caption box: Double-tap.
- Move the caption box: Touch and hold, then drag up or down.
- Hide captions and turn off Live Caption: Drag the caption box off the bottom of your screen.
Note: If you don’t see Live Caption, you might need to update your Device Personalization Services on Google Play.
To Change Live Caption settings:
Open your device’s Settings app .
Tap Sound Live Caption.
Under Settings, view or change these settings:
- Turn Live Caption on or off.
- Hide or show profanity.
- Hide or show sound labels, such as laughter and applause.
- Hide or show the Live Caption icon in volume control.
Note: To change the caption size, style, and color, go to caption preferences.
When media is playing, Live Caption uses more battery. Live Caption automatically turns off in battery saver mode.
Note that Captions might be unavailable for some media, since media providers can opt out of sharing their audio stream with the phone’s operating system. Live Caption works best on audio with clear speech and low background noise. Live Caption doesn’t work on music, phone calls, or VOIP. Live Caption doesn’t use mobile data or an internet connection. All audio and captions are processed on the device and are never stored or sent to Google.
7. New parental controls
Parental controls, which are already available via the Family Link app in the Google Play Store, are built into Android 10 and accessible in the Digital Wellbeing settings. This tool offers parents a way to monitor and manage their kids’ screen time by setting app-specific time limits and granting them “five more minutes” of bonus time, for example. Parents can also manage content via category and specific apps and quickly see the location of their kids’ devices.
8. Edge-to-edge gestures
Google has come up with new gestures for Android 10 and slimmed down the navigation bar. In addition to using the usual three-button features in the navigation bar and Android Pie’s swipe gestures, you can now swipe up from the bottom of your screen to go home, from left to right to go back rather than tapping a button. Swipe up and hold to access recently opened apps. To test the fully gestural navigation, enable them in system settings.
9. Sending updates straight to your phone
Google also introduced Project Mainline in an attempt to push out security (and privacy) patches straight to a phone through the Play store – like for apps, these updates run in the background and are loaded next time your phone starts up, removing the need for a full system reboot as is now the case with Android. For developers, this means apps and games can be updated while in use without the need to interrupt anything.
10. Fit for foldable
Folding phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X might have gotten off to a bad start, and they haven’t been given much of mention recently, but at I/O Google did reinforce its support for the upcoming wave of devices. The company optimized Android 10 with changes to its multi-resume and display functions, to ensure apps can run simultaneously alongside other apps and transition seamlessly from a small to tablet-sized screen when a device is unfolded. Developers can start building and testing with Android’s foldable emulator to check that their apps scale properly across different screen dimensions and resolutions – in time for the release of these long-awaited devices.
11. Compatible with 5G
Depending on where you are and who you ask, 5G is here and it’s expected to virtually remove streaming lag, opening up the door for real-time video collaboration, AR/VR-based apps and multiplayer game streaming. Google is bundling in 5G compatibility and extending existing APIs for Android 10 – this will allow developers to get ready for the new era and make sure their apps can make the most of “super fast” speed.
12. Sound Amplifier
You can use Sound Amplifier with wired or Bluetooth headphones to filter, augment, and amplify the sounds in your environment or on your Android device.
- Download and turn on Sound Amplifier
- Download Sound Amplifier on Google Play.
- Connect wired headphones to your Android device.
- Go to the Apps section.
- Tap the Sound Amplifier app .
For Pixel 4, 3a, or 3, Turn on Sound Amplifier
Sound Amplifier is already installed on Pixel 4, 3a, and 3 phones. To get started, follow these steps:
- Open your device’s Settings app .
- Tap Accessibility, then tap Sound Amplifier.
- Tap Use service.
- To accept the permissions, tap OK.
- Connect wired or Bluetooth headphones to your device.
To start Sound Amplifier, 2-finger swipe up, or tap the Accessibility button .
You can change the loudness and tuning levels to adjust to your current environment.
While Sound Amplifier is running, swipe down from the top of your screen, then tap the Sound Amplifier notification.
- Change the sound settings: On the Sound tab, try changing the Boost and Fine tuning controls to find the setup that works best for you.
- On the Sound tab, turn on Adjust ears separately to apply settings to the right and left audio independently. For Bluetooth headphones, this setting only applies to on-device audio, not to sound from your surroundings.
- On the Noise tab, change the noise reduction level.
With Bluetooth headphones, sound might be delayed or lower quality. To improve the sound quality and reduce the delay, try these steps:
- In Sound Amplifier, go to the Source tab. In the Microphone menu, select Device mic.
- Bring your headphones closer to your phone, and avoid placing objects between the headphones and your phone.
- Some brands of Bluetooth headphones might have lower quality audio and latency. If the steps above don’t improve your sound quality, try switching to wired headphones.
- Use Sound Amplifier as a remote microphone. Place your phone near a TV or speaker, then use your Bluetooth headphones. You’ll hear audio in your headphones while the sound remains at a comfortable volume for others.
- Use Sound Amplifier for video and audio playing on your device. This option is available for Pixel phones with Android 10.
More Android 10 features
There are various other Android 10 new features including support for streaming media and calls to hearing aids, real-time Live Transcribe transcriptions and a new Dynamic depth file format to store and share photos taken with the help of depth sensors, and AR content.