Google has announced more than a dozen updates to its operating systems that will appear not only for smartphones and tablets based on Android, but also for smartwatches based on Wear OS and even for televisions on the Google TV platform.
With new updates for Android, Google marks a new milestone in the history of RCS, the modern messaging technology that replaced SMS. The company announced that the technology already has more than one billion monthly active users. We would like to add that Apple recently reluctantly agreed to support this technology in the face of pressure from regulators.
Key new features in the Google Messages Android app include several messaging improvements, including a beta version of the Voice Sentiments feature that adds a colorful background and emoji theme to voice messages. This allows your message recipients to better understand your emotions, be it surprise, laughter, a feeling of recognition, and more. There is also the option to select the color for the “bubbles” with messages in the dialog.
Google Messages will also be coming to Reaction Effects, another beta feature that lets you create full-screen animated emojis similar to the message effects in Apple’s iMessage, but designed to react to a single message rather than, say, one simple “like”. .
Additionally, Google’s so-called “Emoji Kitchen” – a feature that allows users to mix emojis into new combinations – will include new sticker packs that can be shared via the Gboard keyboard app.
In a separate announcement, Google also revealed other updates to News, including Photomoji, which turns your photo subjects into stickers using the device’s artificial intelligence. This feature is similar to the screen effects available on iOS. You’ll also add custom animated emojis, user profiles, and more.
As with other Google platforms, especially smartwatches running Wear OS, users here can control smart home devices via the watch’s screen. This applies to smart devices such as robot vacuum cleaners and mops. Smartwatch owners can also set the mood by customizing lighting groups to suit different themes, such as meditating, reading, dinner, and more. Additionally, users can use smartwatches to set the Google Home status to Home or Away. In the latter case, smart home devices turn off lights, activate surveillance cameras and lock front door locks.
Another smart home feature coming soon will allow Wear OS users to launch a personal assistant from their watch via voice commands. For example, you can say something like “On the way to work,” and Assistant will start navigation, check the weather, and read your daily plans from the calendar. The watch also features a new Assistant at a Glance shortcut that displays important information like weather and travel alerts, event reminders and more, similar to the Apple Watch’s Siri watch face.
The update also brings accessibility and security improvements, including an image description feature for TalkBack that uses artificial intelligence to create a description of images that do not have an accurate text description and read them aloud for blind and visually impaired users. In the next few weeks, the Live Captions feature, which adds captions to phone calls, will be supported in additional languages, and users will be able to respond during a call by sending a reply via SMS.
Google TV-powered TVs will receive more than 10 new free channels, adding to the range of more than 100 free channels of movies, game shows, sports and other content.