As we approach the end of the year, Google has another batch of Android features almost all of us can take advantage of, not just Pixel owners. Google does these regularly, like a Pixel Feature Drop, only they are for the broader Android world, whether you own a Samsung or OnePlus phone.
In this new Android Feature Drop, Google is pushing out at least 12 new features that run through Google Messages, Google Home on Wear OS, Google TV, Gboard and its Emoji Kitchen, and TalkBack, as well as what could a really fun new Live Caption idea.
Let’s run through it – here are (at least) 12 new Android features coming soon to your Android devices.
GOOGLE MESSAGES VOICE MOODS, REACTIONS: Google Messages is getting a bunch of new features, which we’ve written up in a separate post. There are a couple of features to note here, though. One is Voice Moods, which is a unique background and moving emoji theme that can be added to your voice messages. It’s a way to express yourself in the moment as you send voice notes to someone.
The other item is called Reaction Effects that act as a full-screen animation of emoji that pops up for everyone in a conversation to see. Fun. And again, you’ll want to read the full write-up on that.
GOOGLE HOME WEAR OS CONTROLS: Your Wear OS smartwatch, like the Pixel Watch 2, is getting a bunch of new controls through Google Home. You can now turn on and dock compatible smart appliances (like vacuums and mops), set mood lighting with smart light groups, flip your home from Home to Away, and run Assistant Routines, all from a watch. Routines controls are coming soon through Google Assistant on the wrist, but the rest should be rolling out.
AT A GLANCE ON WEAR OS: Google is adding the At a Glance shortcut to watch faces on Wear OS, giving you easy access to important info like travel updates, reminders, weather alerts, etc.
10 FREE GOOGLE TV CHANNELS: Google TV is expanding on its already-long list of free channels with 10 new ones. You should now have access to over 100 free channels in Google TV, all accessible without a subscription.
EMOJI KITCHEN UPDATE: Another new wave of Emoji Kitchen combos has arrived in Gboard, this time using the camera with different faces or a turkey leg with the star. I can’t keep track of the combos available, so just play around with holiday and camera ideas and you may find some fun stuff. This only works in RCS, by the way.
FIDO2 CUSTOM PINS: You can now set a custom PIN on FIDO2 security keys for websites or apps rather than what should be a super difficult-to-remember password.
HEAR AI IMAGES DESCRIPTIONS: Through TalkBack, Google is using AI to create descriptions of images that lack them, so that they can be read aloud for those who are blind or with low-vision.
LIVE CAPTION CALLS, NEW LANGUAGES: And last, Google is adding new languages to Live Caption (over the next few weeks). They are also using Live Caption to let you reply during phone calls with text responses that are then read aloud (soon). In other words, you could take calls without needing to hear the other person or responding with voice. That’s neat.