Google's latest Android update includes AI-created image descriptions and animations for voice messages

Wear OS and Google TV are also getting new tools.


Google is rolling out a trio of system updates to Android, Wear OS and Google TV devices. Each brings new features to associated gadgets. Android devices, like smartphones, are getting updated Emoji Kitchen sticker combinations. You can remix emojis and share with friends as stickers via Gboard.

Google Messages for Android is getting a nifty little refresh. There’s a new beta feature that lets users add a unique background and an animated emoji to voice messages. Google’s calling the software Voice Moods and says it’ll help users better express how they’re “feeling in the moment.” Nothing conveys emotion more than a properly-positioned emoji. There are also new reactions for messages that go far beyond simple thumbs ups, with some taking up the entire screen. In addition, you’ll be able to change chat bubble colors.

The company’s also adding an interesting tool that provides AI-generated image descriptions for those with low-vision. The TalkBack feature will read aloud a description of any image, whether sourced from the internet or a photo that you took. Google’s even adding new languages to its Live Caption feature, enhancing the pre-existing ability to take phone calls without needing to hear the speaker. Better accessibility is always a good thing.

Wear OS is getting a bunch of little updates. You can control more smart home devices and light groups directly from a watch, which comes in handy when creating mood lighting. You can also tell your smart home devices that you are home or away with a tap. There’s a new Assistant Routines feature that automates daily tasks and an Assistant At a Glance shortcut on the watch face that displays information relevant to your day, like the weather and traffic data.

As for Google TV, there are ten new free channels to choose from, bringing the grand total to well over 800. None of these channels require an additional subscription, but they will have commercials. All of these updates begin rolling out today, but it could be a few weeks before they hit everyone’s inbox.