Google has announced a slew of Android updates that should increase the utility of phones and tablets for many people. One of the most noticeable changes is the addition of Nearby Share, Google’s version of Apple’s AirDrop, which should make transferring files between your own Android devices a breeze. After you enable the self-share feature, your Android devices will accept files from each other even if the screen is turned off. So you might not need to email a file from your phone to your tablet or Chromebook any longer. Self-share should be available within the next few weeks.
It’s unclear when you’ll be able to try out some of the other recently announced features, such as more accessibility options. Android has a feature called sound notifications that is intended to assist those who are deaf or hard of hearing. When enabled, the feature can listen for sounds such as fire alarms, door knocks, and running water and alert the user with a visual notification or vibration on a phone or watch. Users will be able to add custom sounds to their alert library in the near future. They’ll be able to record audio from appliances and other devices and receive notifications when that sound is heard again.
Movies with audio descriptions are now available on Google TV. You can find these by asking Google Assistant to “Search audio description movies.” Google is also adding a multi-pinning option to Meet video calls. Users will be able to pin feeds from, say, the speaker and a sign language interpreter — or perhaps a friend — to see their reaction to what’s being said more clearly.
SharePlay-style options are also coming to Meet. You can watch YouTube videos and play games with up to 100 friends and family members at the same time. According to Google, this feature is now available on Android phones and tablets.
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On top of that, updated Drive and Keep widgets, more Emoji Kitchen mashups on Gboard, and a way to stuff more emoji into your messages with a tap (or, in other words, “emojify” whatever you’re typing) are on the way. There will be a new Keep tile on Wear OS devices, with the option to dictate a note or checklist, and Snapchat’s Bitmoji will be available as watch faces.