Google Messages app is testing a new design for the compose text field. The new design has a shortcuts bar that lets users access emoji, Magic Compose, gallery, and more options while typing a message.
The old design is used to hide the buttons for attachments, gallery, and Magic Compose as the user types more text. The new design is left-aligned and keeps the buttons visible. The voice memo button is now outside the text field and has a new look.
Aside from this, the voice recorder also has a new feature called Moods, which lets users change their voice effects. Some users have pointed out that the text field alignment does not match the message bubbles, which are right-aligned for the sender.
The new design is not widely available yet, as Google is rolling it out to users in the beta program.
February 2024 Android Feature Drop Announced: 9 new features for all Android devices
Google has announced the February 2024 Android Feature Drop, which brings a range of new features and improvements to help you get more done on your Android devices. Whether you use your phone, tablet, smartwatch, or car, the new Android features are developed to make your life easier.
February 2024 Android Feature Drop comes with 9 new Android features to help you stay productive. You can check them below.
9 New Android and Wear OS Features
1.) Stay in touch while focusing on the road
Android Auto now uses AI to summarize long texts and group chats while you drive and suggests smart replies and actions. You can easily send a message, share your ETA, or start a call with a single tap.
2.) Hear AI-generated captions for images
Lookout on Android now offers image captions, which let you listen to AI-generated descriptions of photos, online images, and pictures in messages. This feature is especially useful for blind and low-vision users and is available globally in English.
3.) Explore around you with more accessible
Lens in Maps now has enhanced screen reader support, which helps you explore nearby places and identify them with your phone’s camera. TalkBack will read out the place’s information, such as business hours, rating or directions.
4.) Give Feedback with handwritten markups in Docs
Google Docs now supports handwritten markups, which allow you to add annotations to documents using your finger or stylus. You can choose from different markup tools, such as pen colors and highlighters, to review documents and provide feedback quickly and easily.
5.) Listen uninterrupted on Spotify with new casting controls
Spotify now integrates with the output switcher on Android’s home screen, which lets you switch between your devices when playing music. You can now use Spotify Connect to change the audio output from your phone to your smart speaker, TV or other devices.
6.) View your health, wellness and fitness date in one place
Fitbit app has been redesigned to show you a complete picture of your health, wellness and fitness data. You can now see data from your connected wearables and apps, such as AllTrails, Oura Ring and MyFitnessPal, in the You tab of the Fitbit app.
7.) Access tickets, membership passes, and more
Google Wallet passes are now available on Wear OS watches, which enable you to access your tickets, passes, memberships and cards from your wrist. You can choose which passes to display or hide, and use them when you need them.
8.) Get transit directions with a quick game at your wrist
Google Maps for Wear OS now offers public transit directions, which help you catch your bus, train or ferry with a glance at your wrist. You can look up departure times, get compass-guided navigation and mirror directions to your phone if you prefer.
9.) Chat with Gemini right in Messages
Gemini is a new chatbot that you can access right in Google Messages on your Android phone. You can chat with Gemini to draft messages, brainstorm ideas, plan events or simply have a fun conversation.
Google Maps gets public transit directions feature for Wear OS
At MWC 2024, Google announced a set of new features for its wide range of products including the Wear OS, and one of them is the public transit directions feature for Maps. Google Maps for Wear OS is surprisingly missing a lot of functionality that is present on the smartphone version of the app.
Therefore, to offer users a more seamless experience, Google Maps has added public transit directions for Wear OS. It will help users leave their smartphones in their pockets and glance at their wrists for the next steps. However, this feature will reduce the risk of mishaps and elevate the user’s experience.
Notably, when searching for a location in Google Maps on Wear OS, public transit will appear alongside driving, cycling, and walking. After selecting the bus, train, ferry, and more options, Google will show recommended routes with departure times. You can scroll through the steps and see where you’re getting off.
It also offers compass-guided navigation directions for your destination to ensure you catch your bus, train, or ferry. You can also mirror directions to your watch from your phone and navigate hands-free.
However, the feature has been released and it will be available for eligible Wearables with the update of Google Maps for Wear OS. So just have patience and get ready to enjoy a more optimized and seamless interpretation while traveling.
MediaTek and Google bringing Gemini Nano to more smartphones
Google‘s Gemini Nano is an on-device AI model and only a few devices could support this as it requires a lot of computing power and memory. Now, the company is planning to expand its availability to more devices.
MediaTek has announced that some of its chips are now optimized for Gemini Nano. According to the information, MediaTek and Google have collaborated to integrate and optimize Gemini Nano on the MediaTek Dimensity 9300 and 8300 chipsets, which are designed for high-end and mid-range smartphones, respectively.
The press release states that this optimization includes using MediaTek’s NeuroPilot toolkit and porting Gemini Nano to MediaTek’s APU. This will enable Gemini Nano to run more effectively and efficiently on MediaTek-powered devices, without compromising battery life or performance.
MediaTek also says that it will soon release an APK for developers and OEMs to help them deploy Gemini Nano applications on their devices. Additionally, MediaTek will showcase its on-device generative AI capabilities using Llama 2 LLM at the Mobile World Congress 2024 next week.
With this partnership, MediaTek and Google aim to bring on-device generative AI to more users and create new possibilities for smartphone applications and experiences.