Google is launching a new range of features on Android phones and watches

Summer is just around the corner and Google is celebrating the warm season with a series of updates to Android, Web and WearOS. While we still have to wait for June’s Feature Drop to hit Pixel devices as a system update, the company is already rolling out new features for its apps and services across all device types.


Google is still in the process of making more widgets, and that’s especially clear with this drop in functionality. Phones and tablets are about to get new widgets for Google Finance, Google TV, and Google News. Apparently the first widget is already spreading widely and is part of the Google app. It lets you track your most important investments right on your home screen, in case you want a little more anxiety every time you turn on your phone screen. Meanwhile, the Google TV widget wants to make it easier to find personalized watch suggestions at a glance, and adding it to your Google News home screen will put the latest and greatest headlines right at your fingertips.

Animation of the new Android widgets for Google apps, opening the Google TV app

Source: Google

While none of these widgets are a completely new concept, they all share the same Material You design language, making them feel right at home on Pixel phones. Widgets are available globally on devices running Android 6 and above.

Emoji Kitchen updates

Rendering of the phone with the Gboard emoji picker open, showing shark combination creations

Source: Google

When Google first released its emoji blender feature for Gboard, it was an instant hit, and the Emoji Kitchen only gets better with each passing month. As part of its June Feature Drop, Google is adding new summer-themed emoji combinations to the mix, though the company is still clear on the details. However, a look at the image provided by the company below suggests that some of the new combos will involve sharks.

Spotify, Wallet and Keep on WearOS

We have a lot of things we’d like to see improved in the next version of WearOS, but in the meantime, Google is adding some new features to its smartwatch operating system. First, Google has teamed up with Spotify to announce that the music streaming service’s AI DJ is now available on the watch platform, allowing you to access the special radio host from your wrist. In addition to the DJ, the company says there are other new face tiles and complications to enjoy from Spotify. However, the DJ is only available in the US, UK, Canada and Ireland for Premium subscribers.

Animation showing the new Spotify features for WearOS

Source: Google

If you use Google Wallet and live in the San Francisco Bay Area or Washington, DC, and happen to use public transportation, you can now import your SmarTrip and Clipper cards into Google Wallet and use them right on your wrist. Google also reiterated that it introduced new Keep Watch complications a while back to give you quick access to individual to-do lists or notes right from the watch face.

Dark web reports for Gmail

During this year’s Google I/O, Google announced dark web monitoring for Gmail users. The feature was previously only available to Google One subscribers, but is now available to anyone with a Google Account. You still have to visit the Google One website or app to use it, but it doesn’t cost you anything. The feature lets you run a one-time scan to see if your Gmail ID has been leaked on the dark web, complete with guidance on what to do to keep yourself safe online. Google One subscribers still get added benefits, like the option to search for additional leaked information like your Social Security number and automatic recurring scanning.

As of June 1, the rollout of these dark web reports is expected to be completed in the United States. In the coming months, the company will expand the option to 20 additional countries.

Reading practice

Animation of Google's new reading practice mode in Google Play Books

Source: Google

After shutting down its Rivet reading practice apps in 2020, Google is back with a new reading practice service as part of Google Play Books. Within the app you can access a special section that allows you to practice reading with your child. Google says the option is available for thousands of children’s books, including some that are free. Reading practice has your child read the highlighted words aloud, complete with prompts on how to pronounce them if they need to.

Launching in the coming weeks

While we’re still eagerly waiting for the Pixel Feature Drop to arrive with the latest changes arriving as part of the third and final quarterly platform release of Android 13, these new additions will be available to everyone whether they have a Pixel phone or not. . New features and releases are rolling out right now and should be available to everyone in the coming weeks.

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