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Google announces new Android features, including new emoji
by João Carrasqueira
Google has announced a handful of new features that are making their way to Android phones now or in the coming weeks. These features are generally related to specific apps, but they may be useful all the same.
First off, Gboard is getting an update that improves the Emoji Kitchen feature. This allows users to combine multiple emoji to combine visual elements from two emoji to create a custom one. With the new update, the number of possible combinations will go from "hundreds" to over 14,000, plus the combinations will automatically be suggested after inserting two emoji in a message. It'll also be possible to select the same emoji twice to get suggestions with more intense emotions. This update is currently available in Gboard's beta release, and will be coming to devices running Android 6.0 or newer over the next few weeks.
Google is also making the Voice Access app more widely available, after it was released for Android 11 devices. The app lets users control their device using only their voice, and it can now add labels to the screens of apps, so voice can be used to navigate them more easily. If you haven't yet, you can download the app here and join the beta program to try the latest features.
On Google Maps, a new Go tab is rolling out in the coming weeks, and it provides quick shortcuts to places you visit frequently. You can add multiple locations to this page to get directions and traffic information more quickly. And, once you're on the road, Google is also making Android Auto available in more countries in the coming months.
Next up, an update to Nearby Share is soon going to add the ability to share apps with nearby users. This works even without an internet connection, and it can be useful to help a friend set up a new app in a pinch. This will be coming in the next few weeks.
Finally, for audiobook fans, Google is releasing a tool for publishers that enables automatic conversion of text books to audio format, so readers (or rather, listeners) don't need to wait for a book to be turned into an audiobook the usual way. This tool is available in beta for now and will roll out to all publishers early next year.
ZTE Axon 20 5G with its under-display camera comes to global markets on December 21
by João Carrasqueira
ZTE has announced the global launch date of the Axon 20 5G, the world's first smartphone that you can actually buy with a camera under the display. The ZTE Axon 20 5G was originally announced in August for the Chinese market, but it's now coming to markets including the UK, European Union, and more.
The under-display camera is obviously the selling point of this phone, and ZTE says it achieved this through a focus on five core technologies, including using special materials with higher transparency for better light performance on the selfie camera, a unique driver circuit, a special display matrix, and camera algorithms to improve performance for selfies.
ZTE's goal was to have as much of a "full display" with minimal bezels as possible, so the earpiece sound is also handled behind the display, and there's a fingerprint sensor under it as well. The display itself is a massive 6.92 inches diagonally, with Full HD+ resolution, a 90Hz refresh rate, 10-bit color depth, and 100% coverage of DCI-P3.
Aside from that, the Axon 20 5G is a fairly standard upper-mid-range smartphone. It's powered by a Snapdragon 765G chipset, 8GB of RAM, and it has 128GB of internal storage. There's also 5G support, as the name indicates, and ZTE says it has a new antenna design to improve its performance. The phone has a 4,220mAh battery, and it support 30W fast charging.
The camera setup on the back features a 64MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide camera, a 2MP depth camera, and another 2MP macro camera. The front-facing camera is 32MP.
The ZTE Axon 20 5G will be available starting December 21 in the United Kingdom, European Union, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. The price has yet to be revealed, but ZTE says it will announce it soon.
By Abhay V
Google Photos update adds a new dynamic wallpaper option that cycles through Memories
by Abhay Venkatesh
Google is rolling out an update to the Photos app on Android that introduces a new live wallpaper feature that cycles through users’ memories. The feature is reportedly enabled with the update that bumps up the version to 5.22.
The company enhanced the Memories feature in Photos as part of a redesign earlier this year, bringing a dedicated tab and different categories of memories such as images from trips and other highlights. Now, users can choose to set these memories to cycle through as the background wallpaper, which can be applied from the stock wallpaper picker by selecting the Memories Live wallpaper option. The feature also lets users view a preview of the wallpaper before applying the changes.
Currently, there seem to be no customization options for what kind of images the user wants to select. The “Open Photos” option too simply redirects to the Photos app and does not offer any further settings. Folks over at XDA Developers confirm that they were able to apply the Live wallpaper on their Galaxy Note20 Ultra, suggesting that the capability is not exclusive to Google’s devices.
Considering that the update has just begun rolling out, it could be a while till it propagates to more devices. Additionally, there is no information on whether there are any specific OS version requirements for these dynamic wallpapers.
Source: XDA Developers
Google now lets anyone capture and share Street View imagery
by João Carrasqueira
Google has announced a new update for the Street View app on Android devices, which makes it easier for anyone to capture and share images of the world, contributing to the Street View experience for others.
Up until now, while pictures could be submitted by users, they would need to be captured with special hardware, like 360-degree cameras. Now, it's possible to use the Street View app on Android devices - as long as they're compatible with ARCore - to record and upload the images on the spot. The recording process works similarly to a video recording, and Google automatically rotates and positions the images so they fit into the experience.
Google's own cars have captured over 170 billion images from over 10 million miles of road all over the world, but not every place is covered. Either that, or some areas don't get as much attention, so the available imagery is multiple years out of date. With the ability for users to contribute new images, it should be easier for users to find more accurate representations of the real world.
The Street View recording features are available in beta in Toronto (Canada), New York, and Austin (Texas), as well as Nigeria, Indonesia, and Costa Rica. More countries should be supported soon.
By News Staff
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