Even though these past few months might have felt like one, long nightmare-ish holiday, the actual holidays have officially started a couple of weeks ago and will go full blast a couple of weeks from now. And so Google wants you to know that it has brought some pretty nifty new and improved Android features to help you celebrate the holidays through your mobile device. You get things like an improved Voice Access feature, a new Go Tab in Google Maps, and an update in Nearby Share.
The Voice Access feature was launched a couple of years ago so you can control your phone through voice commands. The new and improved version is now in beta and will also be rolling out to devices running on Android 6.0 and above. You’ll be able to use simplified and more natural language now when trying to navigate your phone. You can say something like “open YouTube” “search for kittens” and you’ll be able to view kitten videos. Learn more about this here.
Google Maps now has a Go Tab where you can navigate to your frequently-visited places with just one tap. You can pin a destination like office, mall, etc which you often go to and you get to see directions, live traffic updates, possible disruptions en route, and a mostly accurate ETA. You can also pin specific routes that you usually take if you’re on public transit and you’ll also see departure and arrival times, alerts from the local transit agency, and an updated ETA. The Go Tab will be rolling out in the next few weeks.
Nearby Share lets you share files with another Android phone that’s, well, nearby. But an upcoming update will also let you share apps from the Google Play Store. So instead of your friend writing down an app that you’re recommending, you can already share it right then and there even when you don’t have cellular data or Wi-Fi connection. Go to Google Play and head to the Share Apps Menu and choose the app or apps you want to share.
Google also shared some more new features like more emojis you can make up in the Emoji Kitchen (thousands instead of hundreds), more auto-generated narrators for books in the Play Store, and Android Auto’s expansion to more countries. All these should be rolling out on Android devices in the next few days and weeks in time for the December holidays.