If you’re deep into the Google ecosystem, you should get on board with Nearby Sharing. The wireless file transfer feature now works on Android devices of all types and even Chromebooks. And in his latest Android feature dropGoogle promises it’s about to become as easy to use as sharing a link.
If you’re actively using near-device sharing, you’ll soon be able to send photos and other files without accessing the device you’re pinging. Over the next few weeks, Google will roll out the ability to use Nearby Sharing with all compatible devices that are already enabled. This means that even if your Chromebook is dormant somewhere upstairs, you can send a link from your Android phone downstairs to access later.
As part of this update, Google is also introducing revamped Google Workspace widgets to work better with Android tablets and other large-screen devices. Google Drive and Keep widgets have been updated to appear more visible and readable on higher resolutions. The Drive widget also offers simpler sharing buttons for files linked to your account. It might not seem like much, but with each widget Google improves for tablet-like devices, the more likely users are to choose the eventual reboot of the Pixel tablet over, say, an iPad.
I can’t wait to try this on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 on the main display, where I have a dedicated home screen for all those new tablet-sized widgets.
The Google Keep app also has a new Wear OS tile – the widget version of the smartwatch. The thumbnail will let you dictate notes or tick off a checklist right from your wrist. As Lizzo sang, the greatly heralded scholar, it was time.
New Android accessibility features
In addition to the new capabilities mentioned above, Google will be rolling out several new accessibility-focused features in Android. Sound notifications can now be customized and are no longer limited to only sounding for common fire alarms or running water. You can add a custom sound, like a device beep, to your alert library with relative ease. All you have to do is record it, then Android will beep your watch or notify your phone when it hears the sound.
If you use Google TV, the company will also make it easier to find movies with audio descriptions. You can ask Google Assistant to help you or manually search for titles on Android’s Google TV app.
A Mess of Emoji
Emoji are fun, but Kitchen Emoji is even more fun, which is why Google is looking into it. Google has added new Emoji Kitchen mashups to the Gboard app, and many are fall-themed. 🎃🎃🎃
Speaking of which, Gboard will now allow you to “emojify” a message faster. Now when you type something, you can tap an “Emojify” button to help you find the correct glyph.
Although it’s not Android’s emoji, if you’re using Wear OS and a Bitmoji user, the smartwatch software will soon allow you to use one as your watch face. It looks like Samsung’s AR Emoji or Apple’s Memoji. Google also wanted to participate in the avatar party.
Meet has games
This last feature looks like an offer to make us forget that Google Duo has become Google Meet. The app you’re now encouraged to use to video call friends, family and colleagues now lets you play games together, like the UN! card game and Heads up! And if you’re in a large group call, you can start pinning multiple people to make sure they always stay in frame.
These features will roll out to Android phones and tablets in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for the update on your device.