Google Announces 9 Android Updates at Mobile World Congress


(Image: Daniel Romero/Unsplash)
As it did pre-2021, Google is using this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) to tease some updates it’s bringing to Android. Nine new updates are slated to come to Android devices this year, according to Google’s presentation in Barcelona.

Four of Android’s new features are available now. The first is a full roll-out of Google Meet’s noise cancellation feature. While some phones and tablets already had a noise cancellation option, all mobile devices with the Android OS now can filter out background noise while a user is speaking. (Given the rise in remote work over the last few years, this probably should have been done a bit earlier, but we’ll take what we can get.) Another work-friendly feature is freehand PDF annotation in Google Drive. Using their fingertip or a stylus, Drive users can jot down notes directly on their saved PDFs, as well as highlight text with a quick swipe.

Also available immediately is a page zoom feature for Chrome. Previously, Android users who attempted to zoom in or out on a Chrome page would end up adjusting the entire window, which made for a bit of a messy browsing experience. Starting Monday, the same pinch-to-zoom action will increase or decrease the size of text, images, and video by up to 300% while preserving the page’s layout. Users can also set a default zoom level for Chrome tabs to open at. This is technically only available to Chrome Beta users, but Google says it’s coming to all users soon.

For a bit of fun, Android users can now use the Emoji Kitchen to combine more than two different emoji. Finally: the crying emoji wearing a cowboy hat and sunglasses we all deserve.

(Image: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash)

The rest of Google’s new Android features will roll out later at an undisclosed time (meaning they may arrive at different points throughout the year). One Fast Pair for Chromebook, which will quickly connect Bluetooth earbuds to a user’s Chromebook with a single tap. Another is a single-note widget for Google Keep. Yet another is made up of a series of tap-to-pay animations in Wallet. When a user taps their Android device against a point-of-sale system to pay for something, cute animal-centric animations will appear. This doesn’t appear to have practical value, but it’s fun nonetheless.

The last two updates are for Wear OS, found exclusively on Google’s Pixel smartwatches. One is another Google Keep feature, which will allow Wear users to access their notes from the main watch face. The other focuses on accessibility by facilitating mono audio where needed, as well as implementing color correction and grayscale display modes.

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