Google started a cycle of updates that began around the time the first Android 12 developer preview was released last week. Since then, a number of new features have been announced for Android devices, and today some more improvements for Pixel phones are being released. These features seem to be available now and include improvements to the recorder app, an underwater upgrade for photography, and Smart Compose for more apps.
Google’s powerful recorder app launched in 2019 as a rival to Otter.ai and had some notable differences. Unlike Otter, the Recorder app used machine learning on the device to transcribe your interviews, so your sensitive information won’t be broadcast anywhere unless you want to share it. However, Otter had a more powerful online editor that made it easier for you to edit your transcripts. This is a blessing as neither service is perfect yet at interpreting what you or your respondents have said.
Now Google is launching a new website at recorder.google.com and making it easier to share your audio files with their transcripts so that even people without pixels can read and hear. The recorder can be a great accessibility tool as it allows you to record audio clips and create an animated transcript that you can share as MP4. However, the usefulness of this function depends heavily on the accuracy of the transcription. A new portal and the ability to share these clips could make this tool more comprehensive.
Google’s Smart Compose tool was originally shown to suggest ways to complete our messages in Gmail and Google Docs. It is now being rolled out to chat apps. The feature will be available through GBoard for Android Messages, Google Chat / Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Verizon Messages, Line, Telegram and Slack. If you’ve turned on Smart Compose and entered one of these apps, you’ll see suggestions on how to complete your message based on whether Google’s machine learning is appropriate or common. You can swipe the spacebar to accept the suggestion (similar to how you do it in the Gmail mobile app).
The company is also announcing a way to use the pixel camera underwater … by putting your phone in an Kraken case. If you want to dive, you can make the Kraken Sports universal smartphone case take your Pixel with you and use things like night vision and portrait mode. If you were wondering why you couldn’t use another case to protect your phone underwater in place of this $ 325 option, Google Engadget has announced that they actually created a native camera integration with this case that works over bluetooth. It is more likely to provide clear images at greater distance or pressure (and it is one of the few cases that can withstand deep water pressure).
When you charge your device with a pixel stand, you will see a new bedtime screen with redesigned notifications to make it easier for you to fall asleep. Google said this was “more seamless” and based on the renders, the overall look and feel is cleaner than before.
Finally, Google is also releasing a range of new wallpapers for Pixel phones, celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. These show works of art by the Spanish duo Cachetejack and focus on “the strength and transformation of women”. While not all of these updates feel immediately useful to all users, you may appreciate Google’s approach of piling new features out year-round instead of waiting for a random date each year.