Google is rolling out its Android feature updates for December across phones, watches and Google TV. These updates include an accessible reader mode, a new YouTube Search widget, shareable digital car keys, new action tiles for Wear OS and some holiday special features.
Here’s a roundup of everything Google is rolling out.
- The Android December update brings an accessible reader mode that helps folks with dyslexia or visual imparity to consume content better. The mode lets users control contrast and font type and size for better visibility. Plus, it has a text-to-speech function with speed control so they can listen to the articles online. You have to install the Reading Mode app on your phone and follow the instructions to turn on the shortcut.
- Google is also introducing a new YouTube home screen widget that has easy access to the search bar, Home, Shorts, Subscriptions and Library.
- Beginning next week, users will be able to cast a title to a compatible TV directly from the Google TV app. This allows you to play something while looking for other stuff to watch, switch to another app to check an update and use the phone as a remote as well. The company first talked about this feature back in May at its Google IO developer conference.
- Google Photos is adding new designs for collages for the holiday season, made by Australian husband-and-wife visual duo DABSMYLA and renowned watercolor artist Yao Cheng Design. You can select photos in the Google Photos app, add them to a collage and browse these new styles to create a final frame.
- Gboard’s Emoji Kitech is also adding support for the blue heart 💙, snowman ⛄️, and snowflake ❄️ for emoji mashups during the holiday season.
- Google first started rolling out support for digital car keys to unlock your car last year. With this new update, it will now allow you to share access to your car with friends and family on Pixel and iPhones. The company said you can use the digital wallet app to view and change access to the digital car key. It added that this feature will soon be available on some other devices running Android 12 and up.
- Wear OS update includes the introduction of new Tiles — widget-like screens to access information quickly — including favorite contacts and time of sunrise and sunset. It already has Tiles for Google Maps to let you access directions to saved places like work and home, and Google Keep to start a new note or a list. The company also has an API for third-party developers to take advantage of the Tiles format on Wear OS.
- Google has updated the Keep app on Wear OS to make notes and lists have a better format to be read on a watch with support for custom backgrounds, photos and drawings. Plus, you can view labels and collaborators to a list.
- The search giant is adding support for the Adidas running app to Google Assistant. The update, rolling out over the next week, will allow you to use the Assistant to start more than 30 exercises through a voice command on your watch. You can say “Hey Google, start a run with Adidas Running” to start tracking your run with the app.
For enabling new features in individual apps like Google TV and Gboard, you will need to update those apps to their latest version.