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Your Android phone is getting lots of fun new features this month

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Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It’s a big day for Android updates, as Google has announced more than a dozen new features spread across multiple devices and apps — including a host of fun new ways to make Google Messages more visually exciting and to mark a significant milestone in its use.

Ready to see everything that’s new? Let’s dig in.

Google Messages

Promotional image from Google showing November 2023 updates to the Google Messages app.
Google

Google says there are now a billion monthly RCS message users around the world, and to celebrate, it has released seven new features that will make the messages you send a lot fancier (or a lot more distracting, depending on which way you look at it). If you like emojis and reactions and are sick of only having a single bubble color, you’re going to love this.

It wouldn’t be a 2023 Google software release if AI wasn’t mentioned somewhere, and sure enough, it’s inside your RCS messages with Photomoji. Choose a photo to send as part of a conversation, and AI will turn it into a reaction. Each Photomoji is stored for use again and again, and anyone in a group chat can reuse it, too. A helpful new group chat feature is the chance to personalize the name and photo that goes with your phone number.

No longer will a simple thumbs-up emoji appear when you add it to a message either, as the new Reaction Effects feature gives it a “dynamic twist,” according to Google, and a host of disembodied hands and thumbs will dance across the screen — ensuring the recipient knows you approve. It works with 10 of the most popular emoji, including a heart, an angry face, and — of course — the poop emoji.

Additionally, emotions can be added to voice messages to add some visual excitement to your spoken words, while Google has also upped the bitrate and sampling rate for voice messages to improve quality. Emojis will be animated throughout messages when added, too, and the screen will also react when you say certain phrases. For example, expect to see appropriate animations and visual effects appear when you type that it’s snowing.

Finally, the color of the bubble and the chat background can be altered, helping you differentiate between chats and give them a unique look. A fitting new feature, given the recent attention brought to green-and-blue message bubbles by the Nothing Chats app and Apple’s announcement it will adopt RCS messaging in 2024. All these features are available from November 30, provided you use the Google Messages app, but Google warns some may be region and device-specific.

Gboard, Android TV, and Wear OS

Promotional image from Google showing November 2023 updates to Android devices.
Google

What else is new? Google has also been working on updates for other apps and devices. In addition to the voice message update and multiple reaction features for Messages, Gboard has also been treated to an emoji overhaul, with new combinations available to create unique stickers. Google has also added 10 new free channels to Google TV, joining the 100 already available.

The majority of other updates focus on Wear OS, the software installed on smartwatches like the Google Pixel Watch 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. There’s a new Assistant at a Glance shortcut showing key information about your day, the ability to set Google Home’s status to Home or Away from your wrist, set up and control smart lighting groups, and also directly control and dock devices like robot vacuums. In the near future, Assistant Routines will come to Wear OS too.

Finally, some new accessibility features will reach Android. TalkBack has been updated to include AI-generated descriptions of images and new languages will be added to Live Caption, where your typed responses can be read aloud to the other party. Look out for these updates very soon.

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Android 14 logo on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It’s a big day for Android updates, as Google has announced more than a dozen new features spread across multiple devices and apps — including a host of fun new ways to make Google Messages more visually exciting and to mark a significant milestone in its use.

Ready to see everything that’s new? Let’s dig in.

Google Messages

Promotional image from Google showing November 2023 updates to the Google Messages app.
Google

Google says there are now a billion monthly RCS message users around the world, and to celebrate, it has released seven new features that will make the messages you send a lot fancier (or a lot more distracting, depending on which way you look at it). If you like emojis and reactions and are sick of only having a single bubble color, you’re going to love this.

It wouldn’t be a 2023 Google software release if AI wasn’t mentioned somewhere, and sure enough, it’s inside your RCS messages with Photomoji. Choose a photo to send as part of a conversation, and AI will turn it into a reaction. Each Photomoji is stored for use again and again, and anyone in a group chat can reuse it, too. A helpful new group chat feature is the chance to personalize the name and photo that goes with your phone number.

No longer will a simple thumbs-up emoji appear when you add it to a message either, as the new Reaction Effects feature gives it a “dynamic twist,” according to Google, and a host of disembodied hands and thumbs will dance across the screen — ensuring the recipient knows you approve. It works with 10 of the most popular emoji, including a heart, an angry face, and — of course — the poop emoji.

Additionally, emotions can be added to voice messages to add some visual excitement to your spoken words, while Google has also upped the bitrate and sampling rate for voice messages to improve quality. Emojis will be animated throughout messages when added, too, and the screen will also react when you say certain phrases. For example, expect to see appropriate animations and visual effects appear when you type that it’s snowing.

Finally, the color of the bubble and the chat background can be altered, helping you differentiate between chats and give them a unique look. A fitting new feature, given the recent attention brought to green-and-blue message bubbles by the Nothing Chats app and Apple’s announcement it will adopt RCS messaging in 2024. All these features are available from November 30, provided you use the Google Messages app, but Google warns some may be region and device-specific.

Gboard, Android TV, and Wear OS

Promotional image from Google showing November 2023 updates to Android devices.
Google

What else is new? Google has also been working on updates for other apps and devices. In addition to the voice message update and multiple reaction features for Messages, Gboard has also been treated to an emoji overhaul, with new combinations available to create unique stickers. Google has also added 10 new free channels to Google TV, joining the 100 already available.

The majority of other updates focus on Wear OS, the software installed on smartwatches like the Google Pixel Watch 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. There’s a new Assistant at a Glance shortcut showing key information about your day, the ability to set Google Home’s status to Home or Away from your wrist, set up and control smart lighting groups, and also directly control and dock devices like robot vacuums. In the near future, Assistant Routines will come to Wear OS too.

Finally, some new accessibility features will reach Android. TalkBack has been updated to include AI-generated descriptions of images and new languages will be added to Live Caption, where your typed responses can be read aloud to the other party. Look out for these updates very soon.

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