Google is pushing out a bunch of updates for Android phones that include digital car key, new widgets, memories on Google Photos, and more. These new features come amid the holiday season in the US and some other parts of the world. Starting with the new Android tool called Family Bell to help users and their family members to stay on track for daily schedules. Users can set up Family Bell on Android phones, speakers and smart displays to alert family members when it’s time for important tasks throughout the day. The feature can be useful to remind members to water plants or do other family chores. Google is yet to clarify its availability and how to use it.
In a blog post, Google announced the launch of three new widgets for Google Play Books, YouTube Music, and Google Photos (People and pets widget). The YouTube Music widget will put playback controls right on the home screen. The Google Play Books widget will allow users to access books easily. Notably, Google Photos is getting a memory option that automatically curates photos from the library taken during the previous holiday season. The post explains, “These Memories appear in your photo grid and feature a curated selection of photos and videos from holidays like New Year’s Eve or Halloween, to important milestones like birthdays and graduations.” The company announced a similar feature last year to celebrate the end of 2020.
Earlier in May, Google announced an Apple CarKey-inspired tool Google Digital Car key that uses Ultra-Wideband (UWB) tech to unlock a compatible car without even removing the smartphone from the pocket. The feature is a part of the Android 12 update that is slowly reaching other OEMs. Google notes that users can now use Digital Car Key on Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S21 for compatible BMW cars, but only in select countries. Users will need to set up their Android Auto app to use the tech. Additionally, the company is trying to improve existing features so that the driver’s eyes stay focused on the road. Users can listen to music with a single tap of the new always-on play button, right on the Home screen. The company will roll out a new feature to let users use their voice to search for music faster in your media apps via Android Auto.
Other Android 12 features like updated Emoji Kitchen and a privacy tool are also announced. Google says it will automatically turn off runtime permission (that allow apps to access data or take actions on your behalf) when an app is unused for a while. It explains, “This feature expands support to billions more devices with Google Play services that run Android 6.0 or higher.” Lastly, emoji kitchen lets users mix two emojis with the native keyboard app (Gboard on Pixel and other Android phones). The company is updating the feature, and the stable version with new emojis will start rolling out in the coming weeks.