We should see a Pixel Feature Drop with next week’s update on Pixel phones, but before we get there, Google is gifting all Android phones 11 new features to be on the lookout for. From Wear OS to digital car keys to Google Photos and YouTube, there’s plenty in this latest Android Feature Drop for all to enjoy.
For those not familiar with these types of releases, look no further than this past June or last December or the September before that. You get the idea. Google regularly sends out new features to its most-used services that aren’t exclusive to Pixel phones and are instead for everyone to use with an Android phone.
Here’s what is new for Android in December 2022!
First up is Google TV, where Google is making the app quicker at Casting content. The Google TV app now shows a little button in the bottom right if you have TVs nearby to connect to. Once you connect, as you continue browsing the app for something to watch, a single tap on a show or movie will start playing it to the TV you connected to. This action will also fire up the remote to give you more controls.
Digital car keys are getting in the sharing mood for the holidays, with Google announcing today that you can share those fancy keys with friends and family members. If you have a digital key setup, you’ll find a new “Share a car key” button that walks you through the process of creating a key for a specific person. That process will send them a link to help them get setup and ready to takeover your car.
In the world of Wear OS, Google is adding a couple of new tiles, one to show sunrise and sunset, and another to show your favorite contacts. They are also updating the Google Keep app so that the notes on your phone and watch look the same. That should mean viewing labels, custom backgrounds, photos, and drawings, all as you might see them on your phone, only on the smaller wrist screen. And finally for Wear OS, Google has teamed up with Adidas to add an Assistant command that’ll fire up a workout. If you use Adidas for workout tracking, try saying, “Hey Google, start a run with adidas Running.”
Moving on now to YouTube, where Google says it is adding a new search widget with additional shortcuts. This new YouTube widget lets you quickly search for a topic, it has shortcuts to let you jump into Home, Shorts, Subscriptions, and your Library. Nice.
Want Google Photos news too? The new Styles feature that Google added back in September is getting updated styles for the holidays. You’ll find styles from artists DABSMYLA and Yao Cheng Design.
Next up is Google Messages, where Google is giving you the power to reply to specific messages. Within a conversation, you can now swipe across a message to offer a specific reply to it. As you type, you’ll see a visual indicator that you are indeed replying to a message.
Here is the rest of the list of new goodness coming to your phone:
- Emoji Kitchen: Google is adding even more Emoji Kitchen options, including holiday options.
- Reading Mode: In accessibility, Google has improved Reading Mode by letting you customize contrast, text size, text-to-speech, and font types on both web pages and apps.
- Security: A new safety alert will show on your profile picture in the Google app if there are recommendations to help secure your account.
Most of these features will be available shortly if not over the coming weeks.