All the New Android Features
It’s time for an Android feature drop: Google just announced a bunch of new features in a press release, as well as in an accompanying blog post. The new options span Android phones, tablets, and even wearables, running the gamut from Nearby Share for Windows, to Spotify on your wrist, to new emoji kitchen options. It’s Android Christmas in June. Let’s get into it.
Nearby Share comes to Windows
Nearby Share is a great way to quickly share content between Android devices, so it only makes sense to add Windows functionality. After all, those of us in the Apple ecosystem have no trouble sending media from iPhones to Macs with AirDrop, so Nearby Share across Android and Windows is a good match. This feature is still in beta, but you can try it out right now. Nearby Share is available on 64-bit versions of Windows 10 and newer between devices in close proximity.
Reading practice is Google’s effort to help readers learn new and unfamiliar words, particularly with children’s books. When reading a compatible ebook, you might now see a “Practice” button, which reads each word in the sentence out loud to you, lets you try reading the words yourself, and offers feedback based on your pronunciation. The new feature is available as of Google Play Books version 8.1.
New Emoji Kitchen options
Emoji Kitchen is a fantastic Android feature that lets you combine different emoji to cook up a brand new icon. Google is adding more aquatic options to the kitchen, specifically highlighting the shark, dolphin, and whale emoji.
Three new widgets for your home screen
This latest feature drop includes three new widgets: Google TV now has a widget with personalized movie and TV suggestions, Google Finance lets you monitor the stocks of your choosing, and Google News will show you the latest headlines.
Matter-enabled smart devices are even easier to set up
Matter, the new cross-platform standard for smart devices, are easier than ever to set up on Android. You can scan the QR code on these new devices using the Google Home app, and quickly connect them to your smart home setup. This feature requires your device to be running Android 8.1 or newer, a Matter-enabled Google hub device, wifi, and Bluetooth Low Energy (4.2) or higher.
Spotify on your wrist
If you have a smartwatch running Wear OS 2 or newer, you have Spotify on your wrist. You can, of course, listen to music and podcasts without picking up your phone, but you can also check out new tiles and watch face shortcuts. Google is highlighting the watch’s ability to stream from Spotify DJ, but that requires a Spotify Premium subscription, and is only available in the U.S., Canada, UK, and Ireland.
Check your Google Keep notes without your phone
Another good Wear OS addition is Google Keep: This new option lets you check a pinned note or to-do list without needing to grab your phone first. This feature runs on Watch OS 3 and newer.
Commute with your watch
If you take public transit in Washington, D.C. or the San Francisco Bay Area, you can tap onto the metro using your SmarTrip and Clipper cards on your smartwatch. This requires Wear OS 2 or newer, as well as Android 7.1 or newer.
Save Shorts to your YouTube playlists
While they were simply copying TikTok at first, Shorts have become a popular platform on YouTube. If you stumble upon one of these quick vertical videos you like, you can now add it to a playlist, showing YouTube is treating this new content the same as its traditional video fare.
Scan your Gmail address for possible dark web leaks
Google now offers these scans to anyone with a Google Account in the U.S. Just follow this link, hit “Run scan,” and see what pops up. You might be surprised just how many of your accounts have had data leaks in the past, and how much of your data each one let loose. If you subscribe to Google One, the scan will look for extra info, like your social security number.