30 September 2021
Google has announced some of the new features that will come to Android this season. Some of these features are already available on Pixel devices and they are now being coming to other Android devices as well. The list of new features covers most of the major services of Google, from Android Auto, Gboard to Google Assistant, and more.
Speaking of Google Assistant, the Reminders have now been given a separate functional hub from where you can access them and create more depending upon the suggestions. You can ask Google Assistant to open your reminders in case you want to check what reminders you made for the day. In addition to this, you can also create some reminders for some of the recurring tasks of the day.
The Reminders hub will throw some helpful suggestions for reminders at you so that you could pick them up and create a reminder quickly. This is because remembering the To-do list can be hard since our minds are always busy with some work and also because we give the least preference to setting up reminders. So, why not allowing Google Assistant to take charge of it and be the real-life assistant? As the demo shows, Google Assistant will throw suggestions like - Remind me to: “Take out the trash every Sunday night,” “Do the laundry every Saturday afternoon.” You just have to tap on Create, Create, and Create button shown below for every suggestion.
Another interesting feature is the virtual remote control. Google is turning your Android phone into a remote control so that you could use your phone to control your Google TV or all your Android TV OS devices. According to the demo, once you set up your phone as a remote controller, it will show up as a large trackpad. This means you can use it to glide through various channels/content being displayed on your TV.
Besides the large trackpad, there are some buttons for back, Home, Google Assistant, Sound, and volume controls as well and their usage is self-explanatory. Google touts you can now type passwords faster as well. You can try the new virtual TV remote feature o your Google TV or other Android TV OS devices by adding the remote tile to quick settings on your Android phone, or by visiting the Google TV app.
Google is also bringing two new accessibility features for people with motor and speech disabilities. These two new features are Camera Switches and Project Activate. The former turns your front-facing camera into a switch that detects facial expressions so that you can navigate your phone.
This replaces a keyboard, mouse, or touching the phone. It offers six gestures – look right, look left, look up, smile, raise eyebrows, and open your mouth, using which you can navigate across your phone’s UI. One can assign which facial expression will perform a specific task.
Users can use the Project Activate app to communicate and express themselves. They can use facial gestures and eye movements to active some preset actions like speaking a phrase like “what!” or playing audio with a laugh.
Android Auto is also receiving some new features, including GameSnacks integration, personalized content recommendations powered by Google Assistant, redesigned Waze experience, and work profile support.
Android Auto will soon show personalized recommendations for music, news, and podcasts from Google Assistant. Google says you can also play a variety of games from GameSnacks while you’re parked waiting for a to-go or charging your car. As XDA Developers points out, these are HTML5-based web games, so you’ll need an active Internet connection to play them.
For commuters, Android Auto will allow the users to access their work apps right from the Android Auto dashboard while they are on the go without having to reach for their phone. These work apps will have a small briefcase badge to distinguish them from personal apps. One useful addition is, when a dual-SIM phone is connected, Android Auto will let you choose which SIM you want to make a call from. Furthermore, Waze for Android Auto has received a new design. It has also received support for the touchpad, night mode, lane guidance support.
All the new Android Auto features are now available on phones running Android 6.0 and above for compatible cars.
Also, Gboard now gets 1500 emoji kitchen stickers, smart clipboard suggestions, screenshot pasting, and smart compose for non-Pixel phones.
The Heads Up feature that was introduced earlier this year to the Pixel phones is now available on more devices running Android 9 or newer.