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Smartphones & gadgets

Update your Android! Message upgrades, pay with your voice and more

If you have an Android device, you’ll want to hit that “update” button soon. Tap or click here for seven things you didn’t know your Android could do. Google released a significant update for the mobile operating system, adding many new functions and accessibility options.

After downloading the update, a new widget will let you see how much time you spend looking at your top three most-used apps. This should give you a good indication of whether you need to scale down your mobile usage.

Keep reading for details on what’s included in the update and how to get it.

Updating your phone

Here’s how you update your Android phone:

  • Open your phone’s Settings app
  • Tap System, then System update

If the update is available, follow the on-screen instructions. Here are some of the exciting additions that come with the update.

iPhone-like reactions on Messages

A feature that Android users have been clamoring for is finally here. In the latest update, reactions from iPhone users will now appear as emojis on text messages.

Before the change, Android users saw a notification that describes the iOS user’s response. But through tinkering with the backend code, the awkward replacement text is a thing of the past.

Pay to park using your voice

The update combines the powers of Google Assistant and Google Pay so that you can pay for your curbside parking by using your voice. After you have parked your vehicle, say, “Hey Google, pay for parking,” and the app will do the rest.

By asking your device for a parking status, it shows you how much time is on the meter. You can also extend your parking time with your voice. The functionality is only available in ParkMobile street parking zones in 400 cities in the U.S.

Google Android update
Credit: Google

Live Transcribe offline

Android users who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can now use the free Live Transcribe function, online or offline. It provides real-time speech-to-text captions for conversations and comes pre-installed on Pixel and Samsung devices. Previously, the feature only worked online, but the update gives it an offline mode.

Portrait Blur

When you take a portrait photo of people as a Google One member or Pixel user, you can now use the Portrait Blur function to blur the background intelligently. You can do this after taking the photo. Google said the feature would soon work for more subjects, like pets, food and plants, when incorporating the Photos app on Android.

Nearby Share

The saying goes, “sharing is caring,” and the new update makes it even easier. Instead of sharing photos, videos or links with a single person, you can now use Nearby Share to send to multiple people simultaneously. Available on all Android 6+ devices, you only need to tap “nearby” to add more recipients.

Google Android update
Credit: Google

Highlights on Google TV

Do you use Google TV? Then you will love what the new Android update brings to the screen. Google added a new Highlights tab that “offers a personalized feed of entertainment news, reviews and more.”

When you tap on the Highlights tab at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see different content based on movies or TV shows that interest you. See something that you like? The update makes it easy to go straight to the movie or show’s page, where you can rate, play or add it to your watchlist.

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