Google is giving Android new features and updates to help you out this holiday season all while tightening security. From keeping you on track during this busy time to holiday memories, Google is looking to make life a little easier. Let’s unwrap all the new updates and features.
Google Assistant updates
Family Bell is coming to mobile devices. Family Bell is a highly customizable reminder feature that can broadcast a schedule for the entire family. Previously this was only available on home speakers or smart displays, so it will be nice to keep the family on track on the go as well.
In addition to keeping you and your loved ones on track throughout the year, you can use Family Bell to keep everyone up to do with all of the various holiday activities such as watering a tree or family movie night. Google has added suggested bells for families this holiday season.
Each family member will be able to set their own individual bells as well.
New Android widget features
Widgets are always useful to keep you up to date on your device without having to load the entire app. Google has 3 new widgets coming to Android.
To keep your holiday music going all season long, Google is launching a new YouTube music widget. It gives you playback controls and recently played tracks right on your Home screen.
Coming next week, Android is getting a new Google Play Books widget that will give you access to all of your books as well as let you keep track of your audiobook progress.
The Google Photos People & Pets widget allows you to put your family right on your Home screen. Starting next week you will be able to select a few faces, pick a frame and watch the widget decorate your Home screen.
Get festive with Google Photos
Google Photos will begin curating your photos and videos to display holidays like New Year’s Eve and Halloween or special dates such as birthdays. It will display them as in a grid and give you granular control to rename, personalize, correct, or even remove the Memories altogether.
New Android Auto features
Google is adding Android Auto features to make your holiday season easier, even when on the go. With the new auto-launch feature, Android Auto will now start as soon as you connect your phone to a compatible car.
You can now get more done with just your voice. Just tap the new search icon and tell Google Assistant what you want to listen to and you will be cruising to your favorite tracks while keeping your eyes on the road.
There is also a new always-on play button on the Home screen, allowing you to quickly find your favorite music.
Google Assistant is also here to help you respond to your messages quicker and safer. All you have to do is hit the Smart Reply button and let Google Assistant do all the work.
Users (from select countries) who own the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, or Samsung Galaxy S21 now have access to a digital car key for compatible BMW vehicles. Enabling you to lock, unlock or even start your car, all from your phone.
New security features
We all have apps on our devices that we download and completely forget about. These apps are left alone, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t tracking you in the background.
With permissions auto-reset, your device will automatically turn off app permissions when you haven’t used them in a while. You can always turn the permissions back on if you decide to use the app in the future. This launches next month on devices with Android 6.0 or higher.
New emojis are coming for Gboard
Starting today Gboard Beta users will have access to thousands of new emoji combinations that are coming to Emoji Kitchen. Emoji Kitchen allows you to combine emojis into stickers to share with those you care about most. It will roll out to the rest of the Gboard users in the coming weeks.
You can learn more about each new feature or update at Android.com.