Google Announces New Android Features

Posted on December 1, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 6 Comments

As it does every so often, Google today announced a variety of new Android features that aren’t part of a version upgrade of Pixel feature drop. But with rare exception, it’s not clear when these features will go live, or on which Android versions.

“As we head into the busiest time of year, Android is becoming even more helpful with new features that make it a joy to create, capture, relive, and share holiday memories — all while strengthening security and personalization,” Google’s Tiffany Yang writes.

Here’s what’s new.

Family Bell. This new feature works on Android phones, home speakers, and smart displays, and uses bells to alert you and your family when scheduled items are due. Family members can also set bells on their own devices so they can stay on top of their individual goals too.

New widgets. Thanks to Apple, Google is paying attention to widgets again, and it has announced three new widgets: Google Play Books, YouTube Music, and Google Photos People & Pets.

New Memories in Google Photos. These new Memories will appear in your photo grid and feature “a curated selection of photos and videos from holidays like New Year’s Eve or Halloween, to important milestones like birthdays and graduations,” Google says.

Android Auto improvements. Android Auto can now launch automatically when you connect your Android phone to a compatible car and stay connected during every drive. Android Auto will also soon support smart reply options so you can respond to a text message more easily with the Google Assistant. You’ll also be able to use your voice to search for music more quickly in your media apps.

App permissions improvements. A permissions auto-reset feature will automatically turn off runtime permissions for apps you downloaded but haven’t used in a while. Starting next month, this feature will expand support to billions more devices with Google Play services that run Android 6.0 or higher.

Emoji Kitchen combinations. Emoji Kitchen lets you combine emoji into stickers to share others. The latest stickers, for the holidays, are rolling out to Gboard Beta users starting today and will be available to all Gboard users in the coming weeks.

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Comments (6)

6 responses to “Google Announces New Android Features”

  1. crunchyfrog

    Family Bell only is likely to work if the whole family is on Android. I'm the lone holdout on Android, however I'd welcome the Android Auto and permissions improvements.

    • nerdile

      It could still be used around the home through smart speakers, for reminders that are centered around the home. "Time to leave", "Time for dinner", "The eclipse is about to start", "Has anyone seen the dog", etc.

  2. wolters

    Family Bell has been more useful than I thought it would be. Brings way more attention to the task or reminder. And easy to pause the schedules too.

    Side note...I have a few set up for my daughter and the "tune" it plays sometimes has a hip-hop beat to it and others don't and not sure what determines that.

  3. darkgrayknight

    I thoroughly dislike the permissions auto-reset. I do not want to finally load Office Lens or worst case MayDay app only to find it doesn't have the permissions to use the app. MayDay is setup so you can call in an emergency with your location to who want to contact. Hopefully you wouldn't ever need to use it, but having to add permissions to contacts & location makes it less useful.

    I did see that you can turn off the auto-reset for each individual app now.

  4. Raymond Nichols

    New Year’s Eve or Halloween, to important milestones like birthdays and graduations,” Google says.