Google is closing 2021 with a variety of new features for Android fans that aim to help people make the most of this holiday season. The search giant has gathered the new collection of Android features into a blog post, and they include new Android Auto enhancements, updated widgets for its media apps, and more.
First, Google is introducing a new Family Bell feature to encourage usability and help everyone stay on track. This is basically a feature of the Google Assistant that can be set up from an Android phone, speakerphone, or smart screen that alerts you and everyone else in your family, when it’s time to do something important.
To give the feature a festive touch, Google is also offering bells for holiday-related activities, like watering the Christmas tree, getting together for a family movie night, or supporting a local cause. Google even has posted a video showing how it works.
New widgets for Google Play Books, YouTube Music, and Google Photos will provide faster access to holiday favorites, whether it’s an audiobook you listen to, your Christmas playlist, or family photos and friends. Chief among them is the new People & Pets widget for Google Photos, which will start rolling out next week. With this new widget, you’ll be able to put your family – both two-legged and four-legged members – right on your home screen.
This will also come with a new collection of keepsakes in Google Photos, designed to extract your best photographic moments from holidays like New Year’s Eve or Halloween, or milestones like birthdays and graduations. You can completely customize the appearance of these memories, or even delete them entirely.
Take the road
Android Auto is also getting some cool updates, including auto-launch capabilities to make sure it’s always ready to go when you jump in the car. Google also announced that several important road safety updates are coming, such as smart replies for text messages through Google Assistant, an increasingly accessible play button on the home screen and the ability to use your voice to search for music in your favorite media applications.
If you’re a BMW driver with a Pixel 6 or Galaxy S21, you’ll finally be able to use your smartphone as a digital car key, similar to the functionality Apple added for BMW owners with iPhones ago. a few years. back. BMW was one of the early adopters of Apple CarPlay, so it’s fair to say that the automaker has a more comfortable relationship with the iPhone maker. It only opened the doors to Android Auto last year, so it’s no surprise that it took a bit longer to integrate it into the latest Android smartphones.
More and more people will benefit from strengthening the security of their neglected apps through the extension of Google’s automatic reset feature. This disables permissions for apps that you haven’t used for a while, prompting you to confirm them the next time you actually open the app. Google says this will be rolled out to billions more devices in the coming weeks – basically any device that uses Google Play services on Android 6.0 or higher.
Google has another fun feature for the holidays as well. For those times when a single emoji just can’t communicate exactly how you’re feeling, Emoji Kitchen will let you combine multiple emoji into stickers to share with friends and family. For example, selecting a standard expressive yellow emoji and an animal emoji will combine the two to put that expression on your furry avatar. The new Emoji Kitchen sticker feature is rolling out to Gboard users beta now, and will come to all Gboard users in the coming weeks.