Technology

All the new fun and helpful features coming to Android

In the latest roundup of features that the Android team has been working on, Google took to The Keyword to share all the new and fun developments. Some of these we had already covered before on this site as they were either in testing or available already but without an official announcement. Some, however, are brand new even to us and deserve to be shared with the world. So check out all the recent advancements below.

Nearby Share Self Share

Nearby Share makes it easy and safe to share photos, videos, or even whole folders between Android phones, tablets, and Chromebooks that are close by. With Nearby Share self share, which will be available in the next few weeks, it will be easy to move files between your own devices. From the sharing menu, you will be able to quickly share files between Android devices that are signed into your Google account. Once opted-in, transfers between your own devices will happen automatically, even when your screen is off.

Redesigned widgets for larger screens

Android 12L recently introduced a new look to Android devices with larger screens as well as drag and drop support in split-screen for Google Workspace apps. In addition, Google is now expanding on tablet productivity features by redesigning the widgets for Google Drive and Keep.

The updated Google Drive widget includes an expanded size with buttons to access Docs, Slides, and Sheets directly. The Keep widget also got bigger and has a larger font size to make your lists easier to read and access.

Emojify all of the things

In keeping with Google’s recent push to make it easier for its users to express themselves with emojis throughout its apps, the “Emojify” features we previously covered are now official.

Gboard now lets you “emojify” your messages by tapping on the magic wand – officially called the “Emojify button” – after filling in your sentence. Once you tap this button, you can select your preferred layout, then send. This feature is currently only available in the Gboard Beta app in English, but it will also be coming to the regular Gboard English app in the next few weeks.

Additionally, a ton of new Emoji Kitchen mashups have been added and made available as stickers via Gboard. These mashups let you combine different emojis and mix them into customized stickers or “recipes.” You can accomplish this by typing in any two emojis, and Gboard will reveal mashup suggestions you can use.

Google Meet live sharing and multi-pinning

Google Meet will be adding live-sharing features so you can instantly co-watch Youtube videos, play a UNO game, and interact with one another via Kahoot! quizzes. The capability extends to up to 100 friends and family members simultaneously and is rolling out to Android phones and tablets.

Additionally, while in a large group call, you will now be able to pin more than one feed so you can focus on more than one person at a time.

Custom sound alerts

Google partnered with the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community to develop sound notifications within Live Transcribe and Notifications, which can detect critical household sounds – such as a fire alarm or a knock at the door – and notify you on your phone or watch when they occur. These notifications can be through a regular popup on your phone, a flashing light, or a vibration on your watch.

However, these sound notifications can now be trained to detect whatever you want, like the sound your microwave makes when it’s done or the buzzing your non-smart dryer makes when it’s done drying your clothes. Just record it, and your phone or watch will alert you the next time it hears that sound.

Google TV audio descriptions

Audio Descriptions on Google TV will interpret live visual information so blind and low-vision users never miss a cliffhanger. Now you can search for audio-described movies on Google TV just by tapping the Google Assistant button and saying: “Search audio description movies.”

Wear OS Keep tile and Bitmoji watch face

Wear OS is gaining a tile for Google Keep that can be used to dictate a note or a checklist quickly. Wear OS tiles are glanceable and easy-to-access app screens usually loaded by swiping left on the interface. These display only the most important content tied to that app and often include buttons to interact with it.

Wear OS is also gaining a new Bitmoji watch face so that you can personalize your watch. Just design your own personal avatar on Snapchat, Bitmoji.com, or the Bitmoji app, and then install the Bitmoji watch face. Once you’ve sent your personal Bitmoji to your watch, it will change expressions depending on the time of day, the weather, and the physical activity you are doing.

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