Android update brings Pixel's custom text stickers to more phones
As well as some improved accessibility features.
While we wait to learn more about Android 13, Google continues to release new features to its platform in the same regular cadence it's adopted for the last few years. Today, the company has announced a set of updates around GBoard stickers, the Play Store and accessibility apps like Lookout and Sound Amplifier.
First, Google is bringing custom text stickers, which it previously launched on Pixel phones, to all Android devices. The feature allows you to convert English words into images, so if you type "Hi Ma" into GBoard and tap the custom stickers button in the suggested emojis row, you'll see some auto-generated graphics featuring that text in different designs. Your language will have to be set to US English for this to work, for now.
The company is also adding more than 1,600 new Emoji Kitchen combinations so you can make new hybrid emoticons by tapping two symbols in succession. It's also adding rainbow-themed stickers for users to share their Pride celebrations.
Sound Amplifier is an Android app that makes sounds around you louder, which could be helpful for people with hearing loss. "Today's update brings improved background noise reduction," according to Google, along with "faster and more accurate sound and a revamped user interface that is easier to see."
Also relevant to accessibility is the Lookout app, which uses the device's camera to identify and describe objects around the user. It can read out words on signs or tell you if there's say, a table at the two o'clock position, for example, so you can avoid walking into it. Today, Google's adding a new Images mode that uses its "latest machine learning model for image understanding" and can describe an image even if you opened it from "just about any app." The company also updated the Text, Documents, Food Label and Explore modes to make the app more accurate. Plus, Lookout now works offline, so you can use it without an internet connection.
Finally, those who have been racking up Google Play Points can use them to get in-app items without leaving their games or apps. You can choose to pay for things with solely Play Points or a mix of money and points. This feature is rolling out over the coming weeks in the countries where Play Points are available. Meanwhile, you can update your other apps like Lookout and GBoard to see the new tools announced today.