Your Android phone is getting its best free upgrade in years very soon

It has been a big week for Google. The tech giant held its annual I/O conference in California, unveiling a slew of new perks for Android that promise to make the world’s most popular smartphone software even better, and these updates could be coming to your phone very soon.

If you own an Android phone, it is currently running either Android 14 or an earlier version of Google’s mobile platform (you can check in your phone’s settings which it is). Only phones released in the last few years are likely to get the newly launched Android 15 – and often only the priciest phones get treated to several years of updates.

Android 15 is available now in beta form – that’s when you can opt in to get the software early, but we don’t recommend doing this on your phone as it’s currently full of bugs. Instead, you should wait until Android 15 is officially released to some Android phones later in the year, most likely in September or October around the expected launch of the new Google Pixel 9 phones.

It’ll then roll out to the latest Samsung Galaxy devices such as the S24 series, phones like the OnePlus 12and other newer Androids. It’ll likely then come to older phones later in the year or into 2026.

We don’t think Android 15 is going to be a very noticeable upgrade to your phone, mainly because most of its improvements are subtle changes behind the scenes. Most of the headline features are still relatively niche, but that goes to show just how advanced Android is in 2024 – it isn’t missing much!

One of the new headline features though is called Private Space, which lets you create a hidden area in your phone’s app drawer, only accessible with your fingerprint or other authentication. Google says it’s a place to hide apps such as banking apps that you want prying eyes away from, but you can put any app in there.

For those apps you may have installed accidentally not realising they are dodgy, Android 15 also adds in malicious app blocking. Your phone will be able to detect bad apps and keep them from scraping your personal data. Google says this all works behind the scenes, but the system will also use Google Play Protect to send you a notification if it detects a malicious app in the first place.

If you take a lot of photos, the new Low Light Boost will come in handy. Google says camera apps on phones with Android 15 will be able to preview night time shots more accurately on your screen and will also be able to scan QR codes in darker places.

Google is also adding satellite connectivity options in Android 15. Traditional mobile networks require connection to a mobile mast nearby to work, but recently there have been advances in direct satellite connections, mostly for use in emergency situations in remote locations. The new Android could allow some apps to send SMS messages over satellite, but we’ve yet to see how it’ll all work.

One cool feature coming is unfortunately limited to the US for now, but it will allow our friends across the Atlantic to add digital versions of text-based passes to Google Wallet using their phone camera. Examples include library cards, event tickets and gym memberships. It’s another quick way to store information and carry fewer physical cards around with you.

Another of our favourite new tools is app archiving. This addresses apps you have on your phone that you haven’t used for a while, with Android 15 automatically archives these apps in the cloud if you’re running low on storage to make sure you can still receive messages and photos from your most used apps but gives you the option to redownload those that are archived, keeping you signed in to your accounts.

Finally, our last pick of the best Android 15 updates is partial screen recording – you’ll be able to start recording your screen but the file will only be of the specific app and what you’re doing in it. If you receive any notifications, they won’t show up in the recording, keeping your personal information private.

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