Android is gearing up for its October release of OS 12 complete with Material You. Over the past few weeks, it’s been rapidly rolling out new app designs and many of us are already enrolled in the Beta program and enjoying the last release before it goes public. A few issues with Google Pay and crashes aside, it feels ready for prime time and it’s gorgeous. I’m so excited for it to officially roll out. Today, Google detailed several new features that would be coming over the next few months to their mobile phone operating system, and it’s all about convenience and accessibility. Let’s take a look at what was announced and how it will benefit you.
Control your phone…with your face?
This sounds scifi, but Samsung has sort of done this for years now by allowing you to scroll up or down a page just by looking, but now Google is making facial gestures a reality on stock Android. Once toggled on and set up with a similar onboarding experience as face unlock (except you’re asked to open and close your mouth, for example), you merely look left or right
Dubbed ‘Camera Switches and Project Activate’, these two new tools were inspired by people with motor and speech disabilities. Both are beginning their rollout this week. The former lets you turn your front-facing camera into a switch – or input replacement – so you can control your phone just by looking left or right to highlight items on-screen, and select them by raising your eyebrows.
The latter – Project Activate – will be a new application that makes it easier for you to express yourself in the moment with facial movements. For example, you can program phrases like ‘Wait!’ or playing a laugh sound that will fire off when you perform movements with your mouth. There are gesture sensitivity options and safeguards against activating these on accident as well.
New Google TV Remote
Having been rumored for quite some time, a new remote that will let you control your Google TV experience will soon be available on your phone. Replacing the original Android TV Remote app which will likely be phased out sometime over the next year or two, this new experience will be baked directly into the Google TV app. Launch it when it arrives by tapping the remote icon at the bottom-right of the application! See a short video below for how to navigate using it. You can also add it to your Device Controls found within the quick settings above your notification shade!
Yet another way to create reminders…sort of
The ability to create reminders throughout your day via Google Assistant has been a thing for a very long time, but now, new colorful and artistic recommendations will appear below your active reminders. Simply tapping the plus button next to each one will add it to your list. It’s a great way to get a quick jolt and to get back on track if you’re wanting for ideas. Additionally, you can now say ‘Hey Google, open my reminders’ to pull this screen up without having to navigate all the way into the Search app’s buried version.
Gaming in the car
Gamesnacks – Google’s built-in minigame provider on Chromebooks and on the web is also coming to your Android Auto head unit! So long as your car is parked (Do I really need to say that?) you’ll be able to launch the new icon for it right from your home screen and begin playing a small selection of appropriate titles. It goes without saying that these aren’t very in-depth, and are conducive to the environment and attention span you have there and then. This seems like something that would be useful for long road trips, don’t you think?
Along with all of these fantastic and innovative (and fun) features, Google is also bringing the Locked Folder in Photos previously exclusive to Pixel phones to other devices running the app, Emoji Kitchen to Gboard, improved Nearby Share visibility settings and more. Of these, the most notable and immediately available through the Ditigal Wellbeing app (Android 9+) is the ‘Heads Up’ feature – a tool that will give you reminders to look up every once in a while as you’re walking and texting so you can stay safe, deliver your message and get where you’re going all at once. What a convenient world we live and take risks in!
Image source: Google