Google launches new Android features for the holidays

New Android features for the 2022 holidays
(Image credit: Google)

What you need to know

  • Google is launching new features and app updated for Android ahead of the holidays.
  • Google Photos is receiving new holiday collages and Gboard is getting new Emoji Kitchen mashups.
  • Users will be able to share their digital car keys with others.
  • YouTube is getting a search widget for the home screen and the Google TV app will be able to cast to nearby televisions.

December is here, which means winter is coming. And to mark the top of the month as we approach the holidays, Google is announcing new features for Android that make it easy to create and share memories or find new content to watch with the family.

Google is launching a brand-new widget for the YouTube app that allows you to easily search for a video from your home screen. The widget is similar to some other Google widgets, such as Translate, featuring a search bar and shortcut buttons to the home page, Shorts, subscriptions, and your Library. You can also resize the widget a bit to better fit your home screen.

YouTube search widget

(Image credit: Google)

On the subject of content, users are gaining a new floating action button in the Google TV app. If you have a compatible Android TV or another smart TV, this button makes it easy to quickly cast whatever content you're consuming from the app onto the big screen. And while you're watching, you can continue browsing in the app or use it as a remote to control the program.

But Google is also bringing more accessibility with its latest updates thanks to the new Reading mode. The screen reader is ideal for users with low vision or who are blind, allowing them to adjust size contrast settings, or even control text-to-speech speed.

Another Google app getting updated is Google Photos. The company introduced playful collages in the form of "Styles" earlier this year and is now updating them with new designs just in time for the holidays. The company partnered with artists such as Yao Cheng Design and husband-and-wife duo DABSMYLA for new collage styles to add a holiday touch to your memories.

You can also get creative with your messages thanks to new additions to Emoji Kitchen in Gboard, such as a snowman wolf.

Finally, Google is giving users the ability to share their digital car keys. If your car model supports the feature, you can give others access to your car if they have a recent Pixel, such as the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7, or a supported iPhone. Sharing your digital car key will create a link for the other user and require that person to enter a pin to start the car. Access to your car can be shared and changed from your digital wallet app, such as Google Wallet.

Google says this will be available soon on other compatible phones running Android 12 and up. The company is also launching new features for Wear OS, including app updates, tiles, and new Google Assistant integrations.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.