Google has announced over a dozen updates for its operating systems, extending beyond smartphones and tablets running on Android. These updates will also be available for smartwatches based on Wear OS and even for televisions on the Google TV platform.
With these new updates for Android, Google is marking a new milestone in the history of RCS, a modern messaging technology that has replaced SMS. The company revealed that the technology has already garnered over one billion monthly active users. It's worth noting that Apple recently, albeit reluctantly, agreed to support this technology under pressure from regulators.
Among the primary innovations for the Android application "Google Messages," several improvements in message exchange are notable. This includes the beta version of the "Voice Gestures" feature, which adds a colorful background and emoji theme to voice messages. This enhancement allows message recipients to better understand emotions, whether it's surprise, laughter, a sense of acknowledgment, or more. Additionally, users can now choose the color for the message bubbles in their dialogues.
Google Messages will also introduce "Reaction Effects"—another beta version feature allowing users to create full-screen animated emojis, somewhat resembling the message effects in Apple's iMessage. However, these are designed for reacting to individual messages rather than simple likes.
Furthermore, Google's "Emoji Kitchen," a feature enabling users to mix emojis into new combinations, will incorporate new sets of stickers that can be shared through the Gboard keyboard app.
In a separate announcement, Google also shared other updates related to Messages, including Photomoji, which transforms stories from users' photos into stickers using the device's artificial intelligence. This function is similar to Screen Effects available on iOS. Additionally, Google will add custom animated emojis, user profiles, and more.
Regarding other Google platforms, especially Wear OS smartwatches, users will now be able to control smart home devices from their watch screens. This applies to smart devices like robot vacuums and mops. Smartwatch owners can also set moods, adjusting lighting groups for different activities such as meditation, reading, dinner, and more. Moreover, using smartwatches, users can set statuses like "Home" or "Away" for Google Home. In the latter case, smart home devices will turn off lights, activate surveillance cameras, and lock entry door locks.
Another upcoming smart home feature will allow Wear OS users to launch a personal assistant from their watches using voice commands. For example, saying something like "heading to work" will prompt the assistant to start navigation, check the weather, and read the day's plans from the calendar. The watch will also feature a new "Assistant At a Glance" widget displaying important information such as weather alerts, travel updates, event reminders, and more, akin to Siri's watch face on the Apple Watch.
The update also brings improvements in accessibility and security, including an image description feature for TalkBack. Using artificial intelligence, this function will create descriptions for images lacking precise textual descriptions and read them aloud for blind and visually impaired users. In the coming weeks, the Live Captions feature, which adds captions to phone calls, will receive support for additional languages, allowing users to respond via SMS during calls.
Google TV, the platform for televisions, will receive more than 10 new free channels, complementing the lineup of over 100 free channels featuring movies, game shows, sports programs, and other content.