One of my favorite Android-related events that flows throughout the tech space every few months is the feature drops Google does for the Android platform. Not only do these drops add new tools or toys for you and I to play with, but it perfectly showcases the power of Android that doesn’t always require a big software update. Instead, Google shows that it can bring everyone new goodies no matter the phone and without having the newest software build.
To end February, Google has given us 9 new Android-connected features that touch everything from Google Keep to Gboard and Chrome and Fast Pair. Even Wear OS is seeing the love, which has become much more frequent now that Google makes the Pixel Watch.
Here’s everything new coming to your phone or watch over the coming weeks:
- Google Keep gets a single note widget: For whatever reason, Google Keep has never had a widget that would allow you to add a single list to your home screen. I’m talking about something like a shopping list that would be super handy to be able to keep on your home screen at all times to both add to and check off. That’s coming! We don’t know when but Google says “soon.”
- Google Keep gets new Wear OS shortcuts: Google is also adding (“soon”) two new complications/shortcuts to Wear OS watch faces that will allow you to tap and then quickly add items to lists.
- Chrome gets 300% zoom: Because zooming on mobile can never get too close, Google is adding a 300% zoom capability to Chrome Beta today, with the same level of zoom hitting stable “soon.” You can perform this 300% zoom on text, image, videos, and interactive controls. Additionally, you’ll be able to set your preferred content size as a default to hit that proper zoom level each time you launch Chrome.
- Google Drive gets freehand: Ever wanted to use a stylus or your finger to annotate a PDF in Google Drive? You can do that now.
- Google Meet noise cancellation: Ever wanted proper noise cancellation when on Google Meet calls? That’s here now for Android devices (phones and tablets) to filter out background sounds.
- New Emoji Kitchen combos in Gboard: Because it’s basketball season and March Madness is around the corner, Google is introducing new Emoji Kitchen mash-ups for you to play with.
- Google Wallet new animations: When you pay with Google Wallet, Google is adding new animations to the payment confirmation with animals and who knows what else. For now, be on the lookout for penguins and dolphins. Is that a dolphin?
- Chromebooks get Fast Pair (finally): Google says that Fast Pair of Bluetooth headphones to your Chromebook is finally almost here. If you have a device setup with your Android phone, it should be easy to automatically connect on over with your Chromebook. This is still labeled as coming “soon.”
- Wear OS 3 gets new sound, display modes: Google is adding mono-audio, as well as color-correction and grayscale modes to Wear OS.
And that’s it! Those 9 new features or settings are arriving on devices at various times. The Drive, Meet, Gboard, and Chrome stuff is rolling out right away, but the everything is else is simply labeled as coming “soon” by Google. If you missed it, here’s the last feature drop like this for all Android phones.