Google’s new features for Android smartphones

Google has added a new Go Tab in Google Maps to help users easily navigate to frequently-visited places with one tap.

Published - December 04, 2020 04:57 pm IST

Google’s new features for Android smartphones.

Google’s new features for Android smartphones.

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Google on Thursday said it is rolling out six new Android features including Maps navigation, Gboard emoji mashups, Google Play audiobooks, and Nearby Share file sharing, in the coming weeks.

Some features are limited to select markets, while others will not be available for all users as they are in beta.

To start with, Google has added a new Go Tab in Google Maps to help users easily navigate to frequently-visited places with one tap.

By pinning favourite driving destinations like school or a grocery store, users can quickly see directions, live traffic trends, disruptions on route, and an accurate ETA, without typing the place’s address. Besides, public transport users can pin specific routes for similar information.

The feature also lets users pin multiple routes such as a driving route and a transit route, to the same destination to see which one will help get there most efficiently.

Google is also expanding the custom emoji sticker mashups on Gboard from a few hundreds to over 14,000 mashups. Emoji Kitchen now allows users to simply tap two emoji to quickly see suggested combinations, or double tap on one emoji for more intense emotions. The feature is already available on Gboard beta and the new version of Emoji Kitchen will be available on Android 6.0 and above over the coming weeks.

Audiobooks and Nearby Share

Google is working with publishers in the US and the UK to provide them with an auto-generated narrator tool so that books without audio versions can be narrated. This will result in more audiobooks in the play store. The publisher tool to create auto-narrated audiobooks is currently in beta, but it will roll out to all publishers in early 2021.

In addition to this, Google is extending its Voice Access navigation to all devices running Android 6.0 and above. Previously, only users with Android 11 could access the feature. Users can now add labels to the screens of Android apps to help work within them with their voice. By simply saying, “open Photos”, “tap Search”, “tap Your Map”, users can make navigation convenient and hands-free, with their voice.

The search-giant has updated Nearby Share to let users share apps from Google Play with the people around them with an Android phone, even if they don’t have a cell or Wi-Fi connection. They only need to open Google Play, go to the “Share Apps” menu in “My Apps & Games,” select the apps they want to share, and let the other person accept the incoming apps.

Lastly, Google is expanding Android Auto to new countries over the next few months. Users with phones running Android 10 and above, can get started by plugging their Android phone into a compatible car while those with Android 9 and earlier phones can download the app.

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