Google released nine new features for Android devices, including several features based on generative artificial intelligence (AI), on Monday, February 26. The announcement of the features coincided with the first day of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2024. A highlight among the features is the integration of Gemini, the company’s latest AI-powered chatbot, into the Messages app. While currently in beta testing, the tech giant has started rolling out other smartphone features, Android Auto and Wear OS.

The announcement was made through a post in Google’s Newsroom, which emphasized that these new features are aimed at improving user productivity. Gemini’s integration with Google Messages is an interesting expansion from the company. Users enrolled in Google’s beta testing program should see it soon. The feature adds a separate chat box for Gemini where they can have a conversation, ask questions, have him type or retype messages, and much more. With this update, Gemini is available as a standalone app, as a virtual assistant, and in the Messages app. It is not certain if the feature will be included in the Gemini Advanced plan once testing is complete.

The Messages app isn’t the only place where AI is being added, though. Android Auto is also getting a similar feature where generative AI can summarize long texts or group chats and read them while the user is driving. It will also suggest appropriate responses and actions that can be selected with just one tap.

An accessibility feature is also being added to the Lookout app. The app is designed for visually impaired users and can identify objects, read texts and much more through the smartphone’s camera. It will now automatically create AI-generated captions for images viewed online or received via messages and read them to users. It is distributed worldwide in English. In the same vein, Google Maps is also getting an update to Lens in Maps, which was first added in October 2023. Users can now point the phone’s camera at their surroundings and the TalkBack feature will read out the location’s information, including its opening hours. rating or directions on how to get there.

A few non-AI features also make their debut. Most notable is the handwriting annotation feature for Google Docs on Android. It will allow users to write and draw with their fingers or a stylus on documents to create notes for themselves. The second is setting the source switch for Spotify, which allows users to choose the device where the sound will come from. This can now be done directly from the home screen.

Finally, moving on to the Wear OS based features. Now, Google is rolling out an update to its Health Connect app that will allow users with wearables like Fitbit, Oura Ring, and apps like AllTrails and MyFitnessPal to integrate their data. The app will show a detailed view of the health and fitness trackers and provide useful information about them.

The last two Wear OS features are smaller, but may be useful for some users. Google Wallet passes are now available on Wear OS smartwatches and will allow users to access them directly. Google Maps for Wear OS will now show public transit directions to help users catch a bus or train. The app will display details such as departure times, compass navigation and an option to mirror directions from the phone to the smartwatch.

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