Google announces new features for Android and Wear OS

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Google has announced a slew of new features for Android, Chromebook, and Wear OS designed to improve connectivity, productivity, and accessibility. The announcement coincided with the Mobile World Congress (MWC), which begins today in Barcelona. New features include upcoming Fast Pair support on Chromebook, Google Keep shortcuts for your phone and smartwatch, and new Wear OS accessibility modes.

The company announced that Fast Pair will soon be able to connect new Bluetooth headphones to a Chromebook with just a tap. If a user has already set up headphones with their Android phone, their Chromebook will automatically connect to it as well. Google didn’t provide specific information about a release window for this update, but noted that it’s rolling out “soon.”

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In another audio enhancement announced today, Google Meet will soon offer noise cancellation on more Android mobile devices to filter out background noise when speaking during a meeting.

The company also announced that users will soon be able to increase the size of content on Chrome, including text, images, and videos, by up to 300% while preserving the page layout. Users can set their preferred content size as the default so they don’t have to change it every time they launch the browser. The new update is available in Chrome Beta starting today and will be rolled out to all users shortly.

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The company also plans to release a Google Keep per-note widget that will allow users to quickly manage their notes and check off to-do lists from their home screen. The widget displays reminders, background colors, and images added to notes from the Keep app while syncing to your smartwatch. Google Keep will also introduce two new shortcuts to create notes and to-do lists with a simple tap of a user’s watch face.

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Google is releasing another productivity feature that allows users to use a stylus or just touch the screen to annotate PDFs in the Google Drive app for Android. You can play around with different ink strokes to write notes or feedback, or use the highlighter tool to save important text to your tablet or phone. You can then hide, undo, delete, or save a new copy of your annotated documents. Ink annotations in Google Drive for Android are now available.

Additionally, Wear OS is getting two new sound and display modes that should improve the accessibility of the watch. Users will soon have access to mono audio mode to limit the disorientation caused by split audio. New color correction and grayscale modes give users more choices for their watch’s display.

Photo credit: Google

The company is also introducing new emoji combinations in Emoji Kitchen, a Gboard feature that allows users to send merged or remixed sticker versions of Google’s emoji designs. There are new options for basketball teams and feathers for users to play around with and then share with others.

Another new fun feature is the upcoming launch of new tap-to-pay animations in Google Wallet, which will allow you to confirm your transactions in store. Google hinted that users will see “happy penguins” and other characters starting next week.