With the amount that we do online, from working to learning, shopping to connecting, online security is a critical piece of our everyday life. That’s why we build multiple lines of defense in Android to make the internet safer for over a billions users. Even with these layers of protection, it still doesn’t hurt to take a couple of extra precautions to be super safe. In the spirit of Safer Internet Day, we want to share a few safety tips you can follow:

1. Use Google Play to find safe apps
We do a lot behind the scenes to review apps before they can be published on Google Play, so even before you install an app, Google uses a variety of methods to check that developers are complying with our policies. If an app violates those policies, it is blocked from Play and sometimes the developer is too. Apps that are considered to be potentially harmful are blocked and flagged for a manual review by members of the Android Security Team. To learn more about this review process and how Android continues to keep your device safe even after you download an app, read our recently published whitepaper.

The app review process before it can be added to Google Play

2. Set a screen lock and activate Android Device Manager
Anybody can lose their phone, so it’s important to set a screen lock so a stranger can’t access what’s on your device. And should you ever lose your device, you can remotely locate, lock, or even wipe it with Android Device Manager. This feature comes preinstalled on all Android devices with the Play store, so you just need to activate it.

3. Check that your device is encrypted
Encryption is important because it protects your data by storing it in an unreadable form, so if your device is lost or stolen your information remains protected. To ensure that your device is encrypted enter Settings, tap Security, and tap Encrypt phone (or Encrypt tablet) under Encryption. Newer Nexus devices, like the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, are encrypted by default.

4. Manage app permissions
Each Android app is housed in a virtual sandbox. That means, unless you’ve given it additional permissions, the only data an app can use is the data that’s in it. For example, apps that you install aren’t able to access information like photos or your location unless you give them permission. On devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can control a given app’s permissions by entering Settings, tapping Apps and selecting an app from the list of installed apps surfaced. On the App info screen, you’ll see a Permissions category that lists all the permissions that app has access to. When you click on this you’ll be able to toggle on and off individual permissions.

To learn more about how Android keeps you safe, check out the Android Security website. Happy Safer Internet Day!

Posted by Eric Davis, Senior Program Manager, Android Security

You're walking to meet a friend with coffee in hand. Or maybe it's really cold outside, so you're rocking a pair of mittens. Or maybe you're in the middle of making dinner. There are plenty of times when you’ve got your hands full but still need to stay on top of reminders, messages, and calls. That's why Android Wear includes things like voice actions and gestures. And today we’re expanding these hands-free options in a number of ways:
  • Navigate your watch with new gestures. Scrolling up and down your card stream is as simple as flicking your wrist. Starting today you can also expand a card, bring up your apps, or return home to your watch face with a push, lift or shake. You'll be able to stay connected to what’s important, while keeping your phone (or other hand) in your pocket. 
  • Send more messages with just your voice. With Android Wear, you’ve always been able to get answers to spoken questions. Now you can also use your voice to send messages from apps like Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, and WhatsApp. Running late for lunch? Just say “OK Google, Send a WhatsApp message to Nathan: I’ll be right there.” 
  • Make calls and listen to messages with speaker support. Screening calls from your wrist is a nice convenience that comes with Android Wear. Thanks to speaker support, you can now make and take calls over Bluetooth. And you can listen to audio/video messages with apps like Glide. All you need is a watch with a speaker, which today includes the Huawei Watch and the ASUS ZenWatch 2 (49mm).
These improvements are rolling out to all Android Wear watches over the next few weeks, including new watches like the Casio Smart Outdoor Watch and Huawei Watch for Ladies. In the meantime, you can follow @AndroidWear for timely updates and tips.

Posted by Krystal Higgins, User Experience Designer, Android Wear

Android TV and Google Cast for audio devices were introduced to give you more freedom and control over your entertainment. Today we’re bringing even more TV and speaker makers onboard for both Android TV and Google Cast. 

When it comes to home entertainment, the living room is more connected than ever. Approximately 88% of consumer electronic devices shipped in 2015 were Internet-enabled.* When devices in the home are connected, it’s important to have platforms that make it easy for you to stream your favorite digital music and movies.

Android TV
Android TV brings apps, games, movies, shows, music and more to the biggest screen in your home. From smart TVs to cable box operators, many devices support the Android TV experience. Now you’ve got even more options to find the device that’s right for you. If you’re looking for a new TV, you can select an Android TV from Sony, Sharp and Philips. Later this year, Android TV will be available from Arcelik, Vestel, RCA, Hisense, TCL and Bang & Olufsen. And, for our users in Indonesia, Linknet now has an Android TV offering.

Google Cast for speakers
Google Cast, the same technology built into Chromecast, is now embedded directly into speakers, sound bars, and A/V receivers so you can cast music from your favorite app on your phone or any music streaming website on Chrome. Throughout 2016, you’ll be able to enjoy Google Cast speakers from B&O Play, Harman Kardon, Onkyo, Philips, Pioneer, and Raumfeld. Sony and LG, who were among the first to include Google Cast in their speakers, are also refreshing their speaker lineups. Cast-enabled software and hardware from Frontier Silicon and StreamUnlimited will make it easier for more audio companies to join the Google Cast family.

Recently, we announced that multi-room synchronization is available on Chromecast Audio. Multi-room sync lets you group speakers connected to Chromecast Audio devices together so you can listen to the same song throughout the house. In 2016, multi-room sync functionality will come to Google Cast speakers, allowing you to mix and match Cast-enabled speakers from your favorite brands with speakers connected to Chromecast Audio.

Check back for more hardware and content news throughout the year.

Posted by Adrienne McCallister, Streaming Media Maven

*Strategy Analytics Connected CE Devices Market Forecast, July 2015

Any time is a good time to read, but at night is perhaps the best. What better way to drift off to sleep than with a great book? Our readers agree. Looking at reading time across the world, we see that activity peaks between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm local time. But we also know looking at a bright screen before bed can be hard on your eyes. Cue the announcement!

Today we’re introducing Night Light, a new feature that makes night time reading more enjoyable and easier on the eyes. When turned on, Night Light gradually filters blue light from your screen, replacing it with a warm, amber light as the sun sets. Night Light automatically adapts to the amount of natural sunlight outside based on the time of day, giving you just the right temperature and brightness. The color adjustment is more comfortable on your eyes and greatly improves low-light night reading.

Night Light is rolling out to Android and iOS readers now, and turning it on is easy. To activate Night Light on your phone or tablet, update your Google Play Books app to the latest version through Google Play or the App Store. Then open a book and turn on the Night Light mode option (you’ll see a pop up in the app). After that, Night Light will always adjust to the perfect setting. We hope Night Light will help you drift off into a peaceful slumber once you finish just one more chapter.

Posted by Greg Hartrell, Senior Product Manager, Google Play Books

What makes a watch worth wearing? It should be beautiful and useful. Save you time and express your style. Like mechanical watches, Android Wear watches come in countless sizes, styles, and brands. And the different ways to wear what you want keep growing—just last month, Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer and fashion brand Fossil launched their first watches powered by Android Wear.

But a watch’s physical design isn’t the only way to express your style with Android Wear. You can also choose from thousands of inspiring, useful, and downloadable watch faces. Today, we’re sharing new watch faces from nine iconic fashion brands.

  • Ted Baker: Reveal your sophisticated side with ten gorgeous designs. 
  • Melissa Joy Manning: Rock a different birthstone for every month of the year. 
  • Vivienne Tam: Watch Opera Girl twirl, take a selfie, and more.
  • Nicole Miller: Stay on track and in style with Nicole Miller’s pop art.
  • Y-3: Sport the styles of Yohji Yamamoto, inspired by the beauty of human movement. 
  • Mango: Add instant chic to any outfit with this ready-to-wear watch face.
  • Zoe Jordan: Free your time of clutter with the clean lines of modern design.
  • Harajuku Kawaii!: Express your playful side with this adorable and vibrant watch face. 
  • ASICS: Motivate yourself to stay active with the help of your fitness buddy.

Android phone owners can download these watch faces today. And iPhone owners can find these unique designs in their Android Wear mobile app in the coming days. ‘Tis the season for festivities and fun! Pick your fashion favorites to match your outfit, mood, or occasion. 

Posted by Kaitlyn Hurst, Product Marketing Manager, Android Wear

Since our launch this Fall, we've seen millions of people set up Android Pay, and the vast majority of them are using tap and pay with their Android devices for the first time. There are now over 1 million locations across the United States that already accept tap and pay, with more being added every day. In short, the response from customers and merchants has been tremendous.

Now we’re ready for the next step: We're working to bring Android Pay's simplicity and security to purchases within apps, and to people in more countries around the world.

Android Pay in apps
Starting today, you’ll be able to use Android Pay to speed through mobile checkout within many of your favorite Android apps in the US.

No more pulling out your credit card while on-the-go. No more errors thanks to clumsy thumbs. Just tap the Android Pay button in the app, confirm your information, and you’re done! And just like your purchases in stores, Android Pay never shares your card details with merchants.

Meet our growing collection of apps
In the next few months, you’ll see more and more of your favorite apps adding Android Pay to help you speed through mobile checkout. For a limited time, you’ll also get special savings by using Android Pay in select apps—from $20 off on OpenTable* dining, $10 off your Lyft ride*, $10 off DoorDash* to 30% off Vinted*—there’s something for everyone. Visit our collection to view all the offers.

Developers: want to add Android Pay to your app? You can visit the Android Pay API developer site to learn how to accept Android Pay for the purchase of physical goods and services. We’ve worked with leading payment providers to make accepting Android Pay a breeze.

Android Pay in more countries
We're also taking the first step to bring the convenience of Android Pay to Android users across the globe. In the first half of 2016, Android Pay will arrive in Australia. We’re working closely with many of Australia’s major financial institutions—including ANZ, Westpac and many other banks—with the aim of bringing Android Pay to their MasterCard and Visa card holders. You will be able to use Android Pay wherever NFC payments are accepted in the country, including merchants such as 7-Eleven, McDonald's and Telstra.

And Australia is just the start. We’ll be adding more countries throughout 2016. This was a big year for Android Pay, and we're excited about what's to come.

Posted by Pali Bhat, Director of Product Management, Android Pay 

* Subject to merchant terms and conditions.

In a family of music lovers, there’s a soundtrack playing throughout our daily lives. My husband likes to listen to The Smiths radio while he works; I like Entering Beast Mode stations when I hit the gym; and we listen to Michael BublĂ© as a family while we cook dinner. What can I say, we’re a pretty fun bunch! But it means my family ends up paying for multiple subscription music accounts which can add up over time.

For families like mine, we’re happy to start offering the Google Play Music family plan today. With the family plan, you and up to five family members can subscribe to Google Play Music - together - for just $14.99 per month. You’ll unlock all of the same features you’d get from having individual subscriptions, including ad free, unlimited access to more than 35 million songs and the ability for each family member to stream simultaneously on any device, all for one low price. Now, you can keep your listening experiences separate from your partner and get music recommendations tailored to the music you like. So, my husband’s Depeche Mode singles will never show up in my account - only my true favorites will be front and center. And a family plan on Google play will also get your family access to YouTube Red in the US.
You and your family will be able to sign up for a Google Play Music family plan in the coming days on Android devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, France and Germany, with more countries coming soon. You and your family members can listen on Android, iOS and the web.

Posted by Eunice Kim, product manager for Google Play