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Android-based devices got a massive feature drop today

Google has revealed a major feature update for Android-based devices, including Android 14 smartphones, Wear OS watches, smart home devices, and Google TV sets.

The update, which is separate from the Pixel Feature Drops we often see for Google’s homegrown devices, also features some new ways to use the Google Messages.

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First up Google is pretty pumped about new Emoji Kitchen sticker combinations that’ll enable you join up pairs of emojis. So, if someone’s created some delicious food, you can combine the ‘tasty’ emoji with the ‘camera’ for a mash-up.

Meanwhile Google Messages is also getting a Voice Moods feature that adds a unique background to the voice message you’re sending and will give people a sense of how you’re feeling. There are also new reaction effects in Google Messages, including full-screen animated emoji when you’re giving people the thumbs-up.

Beyond messages, Wear OS devices are getting a boost, including the ability to turn on and dock smart home appliances, such as vacuums, while you can also control entire groups of lights. There’s also a new Home or Away setting that lets users set their smart home status from their smartwatch.

Pixel Watch update

Meanwhile, new Assistant Routines can now be started from the watch too. That means you can access your commuting routine, which might show your calendar, the weather, and more. There’s also a new Assistant At a Glance shortcut for watch faces, which will give you a snapshot of information.

Next up is a security update that enables users to set custom pins for their FIDO2 security keys. In a blog post, Google says: “Now, you can set a custom PIN on your FIDO2 security keys for websites or apps that request user verification, allowing you to log in without a cumbersome password. If your physical key is lost or stolen, your information won’t be compromised because the use of your credentials will require your custom PIN code.”

Meanwhile Google TV users will get access to 10 new free channels. Google doesn’t explain which they are and when they’re launching. Finally, Google is adding AI-based image descriptions for blind and low-vision people, while live captions are rolling out to phone calls.

Google TV new channels

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