Google's Android is the most used mobile operating system. And now as we are approaching this year's holiday season, Google has announced new features for Android that make it even more useful. From new widgets for YouTube Music and other Google apps to new Android Auto features to updates for Google Assistant and Google Photos, here are all the new features that are coming to Android in December.
Android Auto Features
One of the big changes coming to Android is to Android Auto. If you happen to own a Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, or a Samsung Galaxy S21, you will be able to unlock your “compatible BMW vehicles” using just your Android device. Google, back in I/O 2021, announced that it is working on Apple's Car key-like feature, specifically citing BMW as one of the preferred manufacturers that Android Auto would work with. Google says the Android Car key feature will be available on all BMW 2020 & 2022 model year vehicles and adds that it hopes to add more compatible vehicles in the future.
Other features that Google is adding to Android Auto include the ability to launch Android Auto whenever your phone is connected to your car. There's also a new play button coming to Android Auto's home screen that will let you play music with just a "single tap." In addition to the play button, Google is also adding a search button using which you'll be able to search for your favorite artist or song.
Family Bell is the feature coming to Android that will let you stay on track with your daily schedules, "wherever you may be." It will alert you on your Android phone, home speaker, or smart display, when it's time for important moments throughout the day, like picking up your kids from soccer practice, helping you get out the door in the morning, and more. Individual family members will also be able to add their "bell" so "they can stay on top of their individual goals too." in addition to these, Google is also rolling out "suggested Family Bells," which includes new activities like watering a tree, a family movie night or volunteering to support a local cause.
Google is also rolling out new widgets for YouTube Music, Google Play Books, and Google Photos apps. The new YouTube Music widget gives users access to recently played tracks and playback controls, whereas the new widget for Google Play Books gives access to your book library. Google Photos' new widget allows you to control the pictures of selected people that can be shown on the widget. Google is also rolling out a new Google Photos Memories feature.
Better App Permissions
Google is also making app permissions better on Android devices 6.0 and higher. The new feature will automatically disable permissions for the apps you haven't used in a while. This feature was available only on Android 11+ devices until now, but Google is now expanding this to all Android devices with Android versions 6.0 and higher.
Google is also rolling out a new "Emoji Kitchen" on Android. This feature lets you combine emoji into stickers. The feature was already available on Android, but now there are "thousands of new additions" to the kitchen now. The new Emoji Kitchen is available for Gboard beta users starting today and it will be available to all Gboard users "in the coming weeks."