Google has announced several updates to its Android and ChromeOS suite of products, but an update to Near Share appears to be the star of the show.
Introduced earlier this year alongside Android 13, this is Google’s take on Apple’s AirDrop feature, which lets you send files and media to other devices, including yours.
For this new update, it’s allowing you to automatically upload files without a warning, so if you have too many photos to upload at once, for example, it will queue up and upload to the device you chose without you needing to approve it. it again and again.
However, Google also announced more updates (opens in new tab) that apply to accessibility, widgets and Google Meet.
A new Google Drive widget now includes your Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets files in one place, so you can access them without having to log into the app.
There’s also a fun feature in Gboard, the Google Keyboard. You can type a phrase and when you select ‘Emojify’ it will translate the phrase into emojis.
Finally, you’ll be able to watch YouTube videos in a Google Meet call, similar to Apple’s SharePlay feature released in 2021. If you’re on a call, go to settings, select ‘YouTube’ and select any video you like, which will start to be played to everyone on the call.
However, the other highlight for me is the accessibility improvements for Google’s operating systems in general, from Android to Google TV.
If a fire alarm goes off, for example, you’ll get a notification on Android about it, where your device’s flashlight will light up or a unique set of vibrations will occur to help the hearing impaired.
Accessibility improvements are also coming in the form of audio descriptions on Google TV, so for someone who is hard of hearing there will be a set of subtitles telling you exactly what is happening during what you are watching.
All of these will be released in the coming weeks and they are all useful features that can bring some fun to daily meetings at your workplace, or just because you want to send some emoji for no reason to your partner. It’s encouraging to see Google further improve its accessibility efforts, but there’s a lot more to be done in this area of the company, especially regarding wearOS and ChromeOS.