What you need to know
- Google is making Android 11's Voice Access feature available to older Android versions.
- The updated version will be available in Beta for devices running Android 6.0 and above.
- Google has also announced five other new features that will soon be coming to Android.
Google introduced several useful new features with Android 11 this year, including a built-in screen recorder and Chat bubbles. The latest Android version also brought a huge update to Google's Voice Access accessibility feature, making it much easier for users to interact with their Android device using just their voice. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Google has announced an updated version of Voice Access that is now available globally to devices running Android 6.0 and above in Beta. Aside from Voice Access, Google is bringing five other new features to Android devices.
The updated Voice Access feature has a refreshed interface and adds commands that enable users to get things done faster in popular apps. You can now say "search for kittens" inside YouTube, instead of having to say "tap search" and then "type kittens." The feature is primarily aimed at people with motor disabilities, but it can help anyone use their phones hands-free. You can now try the new version of Voice Access from the Google Play Store.
Emoji Kitchen on Gboard is getting a new update that adds more than 14,000 unique design combinations. It is now easier than ever to mix your favorite emoji into one customized sticker. You can tap two emoji to see suggested combinations or double tap on one to view more "intense emotions." Google says the updated Emoji Kitchen will be available on Android 6.0 and above devices on Gboard beta over the coming weeks.
Google is also working on making it more convenient for people to enjoy different stories as audiobooks. Google Play will work with publishers in the U.S. and the UK to use auto-generated narrators so books without audio versions can also be narrated. The publisher tool for creating auto-narrated audiobooks is in Beta currently, but is expected to roll out to publishers early next year.
The new Go Tab in Google Maps, which will begin rolling out to users on Android and iOS in the coming weeks, will allow you to pin your favorite destinations to quickly view driving directions and live traffic information – without having to type the address. You can also pin specific routes if you take public transit, and Maps will show you accurate departure and arrival times along with an up-to-date ETA.
Android Auto, which brings all your favorite apps and services from your phone to your car display, is expanding to 36 new countries today. If your phone runs Android 10 and above, all you need to do is plug it into a compatible car to get started. In case your phone is running Android 9 or an earlier version, you'll need to download the Android Auto app from the Play Store.
Google's Nearby Share for Android devices will soon let users share apps from the Google Play Store with people around them with an Android phone, even without a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. To share an app, you'll have to open Google Play, go to the "Share Apps" menu under "Manage Apps & Games" and select the app you want to share. The update will roll out to users in the coming weeks.
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