All the New Android Features Google Announced Today
While it isn’t time yet for the March Feature Drop, it’s still an exciting day to be on Android. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google unveiled nine new Android and Wear OS features users can expect in coming weeks, with some features available starting today. From Magic Eraser dropping on more devices, to new Emoji Kitchen combinations, this update’s a fun one.
Magic Eraser for iPhones and Androids
As we covered last week, Google’s Magic Eraser feature is now available on all Android and iOS devices, not just Pixels. While Google’s smartphone line lost a flagship feature, the other devices won’t be getting it for free: Only Google One subscribers will be able to use Magic Eraser. Fortunately, that’s fairly cheap, with subscriptions starting at $1.99 per month and coming with other perks like expanded Google storage. Plus, Google is rolling out a free Google One trial next month, so it won’t break the bank if you want to give it a try.
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Emoji Kitchen now supports more emojis
Emoji Kitchen is one of Gboard’s most creative features, where you can dramatically expand your emoji possibilities by combining two different emoji into one. (You can even use it to resurrect the Blobs.) Google is now adding support for even more possibilities: You can cross different emoji with a basketball or megaphone (say, in the spirit of March Madness), as well as different flowers to mark the soon to be start of spring. Those are the emojis Google highlighted in its announcement, but it’s possible there are more combinations coming to Emoji Kitchen soon.
Superzoom in Chrome
Chrome for Android will soon support zooming up to 300%. You can even set this zoom as your default across the board, so you don’t have to change it the next time you open Chrome. While the feature is set to go live sometime in March, you can try it now through the Chrome Beta app in Settings > Accessibility.
Google Keep widget and shortcuts
Any time you can avoid opening an app but still use its features is fantastic, and Google is soon adding a “Google Keep single note” widget to accomplish just that: The widget will let you add one of your notes to your phone’s home screen, including reminders, background colors, and any images you added to the note, so you can check things off your to-do list without needing to open Google Keep in the first place. For those on Wear OS, you’ll find two new Google Keep shortcuts to help create notes and to-dos from your watch face.
Annotate PDFs in Google Drive
Going forward, you’ll be able to scribble all over your PDFs in Google Drive. There’s no setting for it, either—you can just take your stylus or finger and start drawing and annotating. While you can use the default pen to write or draw on documents (including control over ink strokes), you can also use the highlighter tool to...well, highlight.
Google Meet sounds better than ever
Google is expanding Google Meet’s noise cancellation option to more Android and iOS devices. In order to access noise cancellation, you either need a Google One subscription or one of the following Google Workspace editions:
Teaching and Learning Upgrade
Workspace Individual Subscriber
Pixel 4 and newer always have noise cancellation as an option, no matter what Google plan they have.
Chromebooks now support Fast Pair
Fast Pair ain’t just for Android anymore—now your Chromebook can quickly connect to new Bluetooth device using Fast Pair, so long as those devices support the protocol as well. Even better, if you connected those Fast Pair devices to your Android phone first, they’ll automatically connect to your Chromebook.
Google Pay’s new payment animations
Say you feel a little guilty after spending a fortune at the store. Google knows what will cheer you up: a cute animation of penguins that plays when your payment is confirmed.
Wear OS gets new sound and display modes
Google is adding two new sound and display modes to Wear OS 3 and up. There’s mono-audio, which can help reduce any confusion split-audio causes, and color-correction and grayscale modes to adjust the way your watch display appears.
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