Google’s six new features for Android coming soon

Google has announced a number of new Android features that will be rolled out this holiday season.

“With the holidays around the corner, we’re sharing six new Google features for Android — a few more ways your phone gets more helpful over time, even outside of major OS updates,” Google said in a blog post.

Here are the six new features Google will launch for Android users:

Emoji Kitchen

The emoji kitchen on Gboard expands with over 14,000 new design combinations. Emoji Kitchen lets users create customised stickers by mixing their favorite emoji. The new version of Emoji Kitchen, already available in Gboard Beta, will be available on Android 6.0 and higher in the coming weeks.

Auto-narrated audiobooks

Google is also working to add automated narrations to books to turn them into audiobooks.

“Google Play, working with publishers in the US and the UK, will use auto-generated narrators so books without audio versions can be narrated — meaning you will have more audio titles to choose from on Play Store,” Google said.

The publisher tool for creating auto-narrated audiobooks, currently available in beta, will be available to all publishers in early 2021, Google added.

Voice access

For people with motor disabilities, Google had rolled out the Voice Access feature, which allows users to control their devices with their voice. With the new update, users will now be able to add labels to their Android app screens so that they can work with their voice within those apps, which can be done using machine learning technology.

For example, users can enter commands such as “open photos”, “search” or “touch map”. “This makes navigation convenient and hands-free, using just your voice,” explained Google.

The update has already been rolled out on Android 11. Voice Access’ new version is now available worldwide on all devices with Android 6.0 and above. Users can download Voice Access from Google Play and try the new version by joining the beta.

Go Tab in Maps

“Go Tab” feature in Google Maps allows users to pin their favorite destinations and routes on the navigation application to make traveling around easy. “Pin your favorite driving destinations like school or a grocery store to quickly see directions, live traffic trends, disruptions on your route, and an accurate ETA — all without typing the place’s address,” explained Google.

Specific routes as well as multiple routes for people using public transport can also be pinned using this feature. Users can view exact departure and arrival times, notifications from their local transit agency, and an up-to-date ETA from the Go Tab. This feature will be introduced to Android and iOS in the coming weeks.

Android Auto

Google is expanding its Android Auto tool for cars to other countries. Android Auto lets users to access Google while driving to listen to music, send messages, get directions, and more.

For phones running Android 10 and above, users can access Android Auto by connecting their phone to a compatible car. For Android 9 phones and earlier phones, users will need to download the Android Auto app.

Nearby Share

Nearby Share, Google’s file sharing tool, has also received an update that allows users to share Google Play apps with an Android phone even if they don’t have a cellular or Wi-Fi connection.

Users can share the applications from the “Share Apps” menu under “My Apps & Games” on Google Play. This update will be launched in the coming weeks.