Christmas is right around the corner, and Google wanted to spoil us with a bunch of new features this holiday season. From expanding its emoji kitchen, to offering AI-generated audiobooks, and easier hands-free access for people with disabilities, there's a lot to pick from. In addition to these features, Google also expanded Android Auto to 36 more countries, rolled out a new Go tab in Maps to make it easier to navigate to frequently visited places, and updated Nearby Share to send apps.
Back in October, Gboard's Emoji Kitchen got a significant upgrade letting you create way more combinations than you already could. The feature is now rolling out to all users, offering the possibility to design over 14,000 stickers. You can get almost as creative as you want: By tapping two emojis, Gboard will suggest a combination of both, or you can double tap on one emoji to get even more intense recommendations. With this new feature, you'll be able to precisely share what you're feeling with your loved ones this holiday season.
If you don't have time to read books, listening to their audio version is a convenient way to enjoy them while driving, cooking, or performing other activities. Sadly, not all novels have an audiobook equivalent, as these require a human narrator to record it — or do they? In partnership with publishers in the U.S. and the UK, Google Play Books will use auto-generated narrators, allowing more books to be available in audio versions. The publisher tool to create auto-narrated audiobooks is currently in beta, but it will roll out to all publishers in early 2021, making them widely available. I'm curious to see how these will sound like, as machines can be quite interesting in their way of pronouncing some words.
Voice Access is a tool designed to make it easier for people with spinal cord injuries, ALS, paralysis, and other motor disabilities to use and navigate their phones by speaking out loud. The app is now gaining AI technology allowing it to understand voice commands and interface labels.
The new version was available on Android 11, and is now becoming globally available on all devices running Android 6.0 and above in Beta today.