If you’re deep in the Google ecosystem, you should get on board with Nearby Share. The wireless file transfer feature now works across Android devices of all types and even Chromebooks. And in its latest Android feature drop, Google is promising it’s about to get as easy to use as sharing a link.
If you’re actively using Nearby Share between devices, you’ll soon be able to send photos and other files without accessing the device you’re pinging. In the next few weeks, Google is pushing out the ability to use Nearby Share with any compatible devices that have already opted in. That means even if your Chromebook is lying 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 big-screen devices. The Google Drive and Keep widgets have been updated to appear more prominent and legible on larger resolutions. The Drive widget also offers easier share buttons for files linked to your account. It may not seem like much, but with every widget that Google improves for tablet-style devices, the more inclination there is for users to choose Pixel’s eventual tablet reboot over, say, an iPad.
I am looking forward to trying this on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 on the main display, where I have a Home screen dedicated to all these new tablet-sized widgets.
The Google Keep app also has a new Wear OS tile — the smartwatch’s version of the widget. The tile will let you dictate notes or check off a checklist right from your wrist. As the greatly heralded scholar Lizzo sang, it’s about damn time.
New Android accessibility features
In addition to the new abilities mentioned above, Google will be rolling out several new accessibility-focused features within Android. Sound Notifications can now be customised and are no longer limited to going off for only common fire alarms or running water. You can add a custom sound, like the beep of an appliance, to your alert library with relative ease. All you have to do is record it, and 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 the titles on Android’s Google TV app.
A mess of Emoji
Emoji are fun, but Emoji Kitchen is even funner, which is why Google is leaning into it. Google has added new Emoji Kitchen mashups in the Gboard app, and many are fall-themed. 🎃🎃🎃
Speaking of which, Gboard will now let you “emojify” a message more quickly. Now when you type something, you can hit an “Emojify” button to help find the correct glyph for it.
Although it’s not Android’s emoji, if you’re on Wear OS and a Bitmoji user, the smartwatch software will soon let you use one as a watch face. It’s akin to Samsung’s AR Emoji or Apple’s Memoji. Google wanted to be in the avatar party, too.
Meet has games
This last feature feels like a bid to get us to forget that Google Duo became Google Meet. The app you’re now encouraged to use to video call your friends, family, and colleagues now lets you play games together, like the UNO! card game and Heads Up! And if you’re in a large group call, you can start pinning multiple folks to ensure that they always stay in frame.
These features will roll out to Android phones and tablets in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for the update on your device.