Google upgrades its Apple AirDrop competitor 'Nearby Share' and five other Android updates
Google introduced Thursday a bevy of new features for Android devices, including an upgrade to a self-share option that works like rival Apple's AirDrop and lets users transfer files across its ecosystem of phones, tablets, and Chromebooks.
The wide range of upgrades — from the self-share feature and redesigned widgets to sound alerts, audio descriptions for Google TV, and live-sharing on Google Meet — are all designed to boost productivity, communication, accessibility and entertainment for Android users.
Google has to satisfy Android customers if it wants to compete successfully with Apple, which just announced a ton of new hardware and features at its event yesterday.
Here's a roundup of everything Google is rolling out.
Nearby Share gets self-share mode
Perhaps the most anticipated feature in the bunch is Nearby Share's new self-share option. To share files with yourself, select from your Android devices that are logged into the same Google account.
When the competitor to Apple's AirDrop, Nearby Share, initially launched, users could only share files between their own devices if they approved the transfer before it began the sharing process. Thanks to the new update, the self-share feature removes the extra step and files automatically transfer between devices with a single tap, so consumers don’t need to manually confirm the transfer process.
The self-sharing feature will roll out in the coming weeks, Google wrote in an official blog post.
Image Credits: Google
Widget upgrades and emojis
The Google Drive widget gets a face tune, providing three new home screen buttons so people can quickly access Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets. The Google Keep widget is now bigger in size and has a larger font for easier note-taking.
The company is also adding features to Gboard, the Google Keyboard, that expands the availability of its “Emojify” button. The feature is currently available in the Gboard beta app, but soon English users will be able to use emoji suggestions as they type. The user can type a sentence and hit the "Emojify" button to quickly add the emojis they want.
Google has also added new seasonal Emoji Kitchen mashups so users can combine even more emojis. For instance, a pumpkin combined with a coffee cup makes a pumpkin spiced latte emoji.
Bitmoji comes to the smartwatch OS
Wear OS, Google's smartwatch operating system, is getting the option to add a Bitmoji to the watch face and personalized Keep tiles for writing notes on the go.
The Bitmoji will change expressions depending on factors like the time of day, the weather, and whether you're sleeping, running, listening to music, or eating.
Live-sharing on Google Meet and more accessibility
New updates are coming to Google Meet as well. Live sharing and multipinning features are rolling out to Android phones and tablets, allowing users to co-watch videos with up to 100 people simultaneously and pin certain people to focus on during a large group call.
The addition of new accessibility tools allows users with hearing loss to receive alerts on their phones when a critical sound is detected like fire alarms, running water, oven timers, and door knocks. Google partnered with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to create sound notifications within the Live Transcribe & Notifications tab.
Users can record their own sounds to add to the alert library, and their Android device will flash a light, vibrate, or send a notification when these sounds are detected.