Android gaining several new features with Google December 2021 update

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Sony Xperia 1 III Google Assistant

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • Google is rolling out several updates and new additions to its Android properties.
  • This includes Family Bell reminders, automatic permission management for older Android versions, and more.

Google has announced a slew of new feature additions and updates coming to its various platforms over the next few weeks. In an announcement on its blog, the company revealed that the likes of Android, Gboard, and Android Auto will all see some festive feature love this year.

Family Bell comes to Android phones

First, the biggest addition comes to Google Assistant in the form of Family Bell. Initially limited to smart home devices, the feature is now landing on smartphones and tablets. Effectively a jazzier form of reminder, Family Bell lets users schedule and sync tasks across family members’ schedules. Google believes this addition will help smooth out holiday task lists.

Setting up a Family Bell is pretty simple too.

  • First, activate Google Assistant by saying, Hey Google.
  • Say, Set up Family Bell for [event name].
  • Select the time of the reminder on your phone.
  • Select the devices to chime.

You can also edit Family Bell reminders in Google Assistant if required.

See also: The best Google Assistant devices

Widgets, Google Photos, and Emoji Kitchen

Google’s rolling out other festive-themed additions, too, including a Google Play Books widget to help keep track of audiobook progress, a YouTube Music widget, and a Google Photos People & Pets widget that scrolls through favorite pictures of loved ones on your home screen. Google Photos is also gaining new Memories smarts that specifically focus on sentimental moments and holidays across the year.

Finally, adding to the festive cheer, Emoji Kitchen is rolling out to Gboard Beta users today and Gboard users in the “coming weeks.” The feature allows users to meld two emojis into one, perfect for creating those quirky holiday abominations.

Permissions Auto-Reset and Android Auto

There are some practical additions to Android coming, too. For starters, Permissions Auto-Reset is coming to older Android phones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and newer. First debuting back with Android 11, the feature will automatically disable permissions for apps you haven’t used in a while.

Android Auto users gain auto-launch for compatible cars, a new always-available music play button on the home screen, and voice search for finding that particular track. Smart Reply is also “coming soon” to Google’s automotive platform.

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