On Thursday, Google announced a set of new features for the Android operating system on phones and smartwatches, in an effort to make people’s lives easier.
Features include new accessibility tools and important updates to the Digital Car Key feature, the Google TV platform, and the smartwatch operating system, watchOS.
Among the most prominent features of the new Android system is the introduction of a new reading mode that provides users with screen reading without being linked to specific applications.
The new reading mode can be used by installing the Reading Mode application from the Google Play Store, which provides new and adjustable display and sound options, such as contrast, font type, and size, which will allow users to customize how content is displayed on their phones to best meet their needs.
In addition, a new text-to-speech function with speed control is available with a selection of voices described by Google as natural, which now supports four languages: English, French, Italian and Spanish. Reading Mode is also compatible with the Google Talkback screen reader and works across websites and native Android apps.
Moving to vehicles, an update to the Digital Car Key feature, which enables users to lock, unlock and start compatible vehicles using only their phone, will allow the Digital Key to be shared remotely with trusted individuals.
Users can view and control who has access to their car from within the mobile wallet app. Starting today, digital car keys can initially be shared with Pixel 6 and later devices from Google and iPhone from Apple, and the feature is expected to be available in the near future for select phones running version 12 and later of the Android system.
It is noteworthy that Google did not detail with regard to the cars that will support the Android digital car key-sharing feature at launch.
In addition to the aforementioned updates, the Google TV platform got a new option that allows users to broadcast directly from the Google TV app to compatible TVs, with a single click.
Users can then use their phone as a remote control while browsing or using other apps. One-click viewing will begin rolling out to Google TV starting next week.
The Google Keep notes app on the smartwatch operating system, WatchOS, will get an update later this month, and it includes the ability to transfer all photos, note co-writers, and background colors added to notes from the phone, making this information Viewable from the smartwatch.
WatchOS will also get a new feature over the next week that allows users to quickly access more than 30 types of exercise using the Adidas Running app via Google Assistant.