Pixel-only Photos and Gboard features are coming to more Android devices

You'll get Google's solution to distracted walking, too.


You won't need a Pixel phone to use some of Google's handiest (and in one case, face-preserving) features. Google is rolling out a batch of Android feature upgrades that include perks previously reserved for its in-house devices. Google Photos' Locked Folder is coming to Android 6 and newer devices, for instance — you can create a passcode-protected space to keep certain photos and videos separate from the rest.

Similarly, Gboard's Smart Compose is coming to Android 11 and newer hardware. If you're writing a common phrase or just want to save time, you'll get suggestions to complete messages. And there's good news if you're prone to walking into lamp posts — the Heads Up anti-distracted-walking feature is available through Digital Wellbeing on all Android 9 or later devices.

Other additions are new to all Android devices. Google Assistant now has a central Reminders hub. Nearby Share now includes a much-needed privacy control that can limit visibility to no one, contacts only or everyone. Gboard, meanwhile, can automatically suggest pasting addresses, phone numbers, web links and even screenshots. Over 1,500 new Emoji Kitchen stickers are due in the fall. And if you have an Android TV, you'll find remote control features built into Android on your phone.

This strategy is a familiar one for Google. It tends to bring features to Pixels first before a wider release, whether it's to help sell phones or just to ensure they work well before reaching other devices. Whatever the reasons for the staggered launch here, the greater availability might just be welcome if you're privacy-minded or in a hurry.