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6 Of Android’s Most Useful New Features (2024)

Originally posted on slashgear.

Google isn’t afraid to put out updates for its latest Android models. With Android 14 released in late 2023 and Android 15 expected to arrive sometime later this year, there are plentiful new features to occupy Android fans. With AI features making their way onto Android phones, Google has been experimenting with ways to help you be more productive. The tech giant has also been working on updates separate from artificial intelligence, such as accessibility improvements and enhanced security features.

While Pixel users can enjoy quarterly Feature Drops, several new features are still being developed across all phones for Android users to feast on. Many features were announced at CES 2024 showcasing better connectivity between Android devices. Other features are improvements to Google’s CES 2023 announcements, including the company’s Fast Pair capabilities and casting media options from your Android phone. Sit tight as we explore six of Android’s newest features that will help you get more done.

Access your files across devices with Quick Share

If you’re an iPhone user and switched to Android, one feature you’ll likely miss is Apple’s AirDrop. Now, you can seamlessly transfer files between nearby devices using Android’s Quick Share.

Samsung users may be familiar with the name from a similar feature released in 2020. Now, Google and Samsung are collaborating to make a sharing solution that works on all Android devices. Formerly known as Nearby Share, Quick Share allows you to easily share files, website links, videos, and other media between your Android devices. With the tap of a button, you can see a list of your devices and any nearby devices to send files to.

Google is also actively working with manufacturers like LG to bring Quick Share to Windows PCs. You’ll need an active internet and Bluetooth connection if you’re sending files using a PC, however, you can send files offline if exchanging files between Android devices. Quick Share’s all-in-one file-sharing platform removes the confusion of using sharing features offered by different mobile manufacturers, so you can send files hassle-free.

Move between your devices more easily using Output Switcher

Listening to music on one device isn’t a problem. But if you own multiple devices, it can be a hassle switching audio between them. Thanks to recent updates to Android’s Output Switcher, you can seamlessly switch audio between your phone, tablet, or PC.

YouTube Music was the first app to be integrated into Android’s Output Switcher back on Android 13, allowing users to stream audio to casting devices without prior setup. Now, you can achieve the same with Spotify for an easy listening experience. The Output Switcher lists all Spotify Connect devices, so you can switch to another device without opening the Spotify app.

Another notable update to the Output Switcher is a handy mute shortcut, allowing you to mute audio playback from a select device with the tap of a button. If you own an Android 12 phone or above, you’ll have come across the Output Switcher when connecting Bluetooth headphones to your smartphone. You can open the Output Switcher by tapping in the top right corner of the media player from the lock screen or notifications display on your Android device.

Summarize messages while driving with Android Auto

As Android Auto makes its way into more cars, Google has added updates for the automobile operating system. With updates announced earlier this year, you can receive AI summaries of messages longer than 40 words.

To enable AI message summaries in Android Auto, navigate to your Android Auto Settings, then go to Notifications > Play AI Message Summaries. Another method is to use a voice command by saying “Yes” when prompted by Google Assistant.

For further efficiency, Google Assistant can also suggest replies and smart actions, such as sending an ETA or making a call. Google states that its Assistant “doesn’t log messages or summaries”, so you can rest assured that data won’t be used for AI training.

Another exciting update making its way over to Android Auto is real-time battery information for electric vehicles, such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning. The feature will integrate with Google Maps to provide information on your estimated battery level upon arrival to a destination and suggest EV charging stops en route.

Find nearby places easier using Lens in Google Maps

Google is well-known for integrating its services between apps. Lens, Google’s AR search tool, is no exception, with new features showcasing its integration with Maps. Formerly called Search with Live View, Lens in Maps allows you to gather real-time information from businesses, food outlets, and ATMs with your smartphone camera. Since its announcement in late 2023, Google has constantly updated its powerful AI integration, including improved accessibility features for Android users.

You can access Lens in Maps by tapping the dedicated icon on the right side of the search bar. By pointing your camera to nearby buildings, Lens can automatically detect restaurants and other outlets and display live information such as opening times. Thanks to recent accessibility updates, Google will read information such as opening hours and directions on its built-in screen reader for Android devices, TalkBack. Lens in Maps is available in over 50 cities, including Las Vegas, Austin, and Vancouver.

Cast media seamlessly from your phone to Chromecast with Google TV.

Another way Google is helping its users stay connected is through its Fast Pair feature. Fast Pair uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to instantly pair devices like headphones, speakers, and mice with your Android phone while saving battery. Fast Pair has a lot of tricks, such as personalizing device names and displaying the remaining battery level for headphone devices. Now, Google is bringing Android’s Fast Pair feature to Chromecast with Google TV.

Supported Bluetooth devices are not limited to Google’s Pixel products — you can use Fast Pair with several headphones from brands like Sony, Bose, and OnePlus. Just make sure the Bluetooth device is within range and Chromecast with Google TV is up to date.

Google announced at CES 2024, you can also stream TikTok content from your Android phone directly to your Chromecast device. The company also revealed that you’ll soon be able to cast live TikTok videos from your phone to Chromecast with Google TV. Google is planning to integrate Fast Pair with more TVs throughout the year.

Stay safer while installing new apps

Installing apps from unknown sources is one of many things to be cautious about. With many fake Android apps lurking on the Play Store, it can be hard to know which apps are genuine and which aren’t.

Thanks to recent security updates with Google Play Protect, downloading apps on your Android device is safer. One major upgrade is real-time protection with scanning to detect harmful apps. If Google has found a likely malicious app, it will either recommend an app scan or block the app depending on the suspected threat level.

Google automatically scans your Android device for harmful content, but you can also perform a manual scan. Tap your profile icon (located in the upper-right corner of the Play Store app) and then select Play Protect to start a scan. Another feature allows you to send apps from unknown sources to Google, which will help with more accurate detection in the future. Google Play Protect is automatically turned on for new Android users.

Source: slashgear

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