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Google’s newest Android updates bring accessibility changes and emoji updates

Google today announced a slew of updates coming to Android this fall. Rolling out starting today, the changes update various facets of Android devices, ranging from accessibility to using your phone when mobile to just plain entertainment.

The major features here for accessibility are Camera Switches and Project Activate. Camera Switches is an Android feature that lets you control your phone with facial expressions by using your front-facing camera as an input method. It first debuted as part of the Android 12 beta, but Google is rolling it out to older Android phones as well this week. As for Project Activate, it’s an app that lets you use facial gestures to communicate.

For example, an eye movement could prompt your Android phone to play a laugh sound, or a smile could cause the Messages app to send a text, and so on. A final accessibility update brings handwriting recognition to Google’s Lookout app aimed at the visually impaired. It will now be able to read handwritten text in English and other Latin languages, among other changes.

With Locked Folder in @googlephotos, you can add photos to a passcode protected space and they won’t show up as you scroll through Photos or other apps on your phone. Locked Folder is launching first on Google Pixel, and more Android devices throughout the year. #GoogleIO

— Google (@Google) May 18, 2021

Google also rolled out updates to the Google Photos app. Previously, Photos’ locked folder feature was restricted to the Google Pixel series, but now Google is bringing it to all Android phones. It’s a feature that allows you to lock certain images away from the public eye, allowing you to freely take, “ahem,” sensitive photos and hand your phone over with confidence.  A second feature will expand the power of the company’s Gboard emoji kitchen feature to include more emoji. The company will now let you work with animal and fruit emoji to build wacky and weird combinations, something that wasn’t possible in previous and current versions of Gboard.

Control your Google TV with your Android phone

Other features Google rolled out with this update include a change to the Google TV app that would allow you to control your Android TV virtually, a revamped reminders page for the Google Assistant app, and an Android Auto refresh.

As with all Android feature drops, these come as a combination of app and Play Store Services updates. Look out for these features on your Android phone in the weeks to come.

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Michael Allison
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