Google announces new features for Android and Wear OS

Google has announced a slew of new features for Android, Chromebook and Wear OS that are designed to improve connectivity, productivity and accessibility. The announcement was timed to coincide with Mobile World Congress (MWC), which is kicking off in Barcelona today. Among the new features is upcoming Fast Pair support on Chromebook, Google Keep shortcuts for your phone and smartwatch and new accessibility modes for Wear OS.

The company revealed that Fast Pair will soon be able to connect new Bluetooth headphones to a Chromebook with just a tap. If a user has already set up headphones with their Android phone, their Chromebook will automatically connect to them as well. Google didn’t provide specific information about a release window for this update, but noted that it will be rolling out “soon.”

Another audio enhancement announced today will see Google Meet soon offering noise cancellation on more Android mobile devices to filter out background sounds when talking during a meeting.

Google’s Android booth at MWC 2023 in Barcelona. Photo: Brian Heater

The company also revealed that users will soon be able to easily increase the size of content on Chrome, including text, images and videos, by up to 300% while still preserving the page layout. Users will be able to set their preferred content size as a default so they don’t have to change it every time they launch the browser. The new update is available starting today in Chrome Beta, and will be rolling out soon to all users.

The company is also planning to release a Google Keep single note widget that will help users quickly manage their notes and check off to-do lists from their Home screen. The widget will display reminders, background colors and images added to notes from the Keep app while also syncing with your smartwatch. Google Keep will also be rolling two new shortcuts to create notes and to-do lists with a simple tap on a user’s watch face.

Google’s Android booth at MWC 2023 in Barcelona. Photo: Brian Heater

Google is releasing another productivity feature that allows users to use a stylus or simply touch the screen to annotate PDFs in the Google Drive app for Android. You can play around with different ink strokes to write notes or feedback, or use the highlighter tool to save important text on your tablet or phone. Afterwards, you can hide, undo, delete or save a new copy of your annotated documents. Freehand annotation in Google Drive for Android is now available.

In addition, Wear OS is getting two new sound and display modes that are designed to improve watch accessibility. Users will soon get access to mono-audio mode to help limit disorientation caused by split-audio. New color-correction and grayscale modes will give users more choice for their watch display.

The company is also launching new emoji combinations in Emoji Kitchen, which is a Gboard feature that lets users send merged or remixed sticker versions of Google’s emoji designs. There are new basketball team and spring options that users can play around with and then share with others.

Another new fun feature is the upcoming roll out of new tap-to-pay animations in Google Wallet to help confirm your in-store transactions. Google hinted that users will start seeing “cheerful penguins” and other characters starting next week.

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