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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Google Freshens Up Its Android Brand and Drops New Features

With the release of Android 14 creeping closer, Google just announced a makeover for the Android brand, which was last updated in 2019. The logo has been modernized, and the Android mascot, called Bugdroid, has a fresh 3D look. The company also unveiled a handful of new features for Google apps and Android devices, including a Google Assistant-powered widget and the option to store digital versions of library and gym cards in your Google Wallet.

The new look is designed to “reflect Android’s core ethos of being open, iterative, and inclusive.” From now on, it’s Android with a capital “A,” and the Android logo has grown curvier, bringing it closer to the style of the Google logo. The tiny green robot that has long served as Android’s mascot has been rendered in 3D and has a new visual identity, with fresh colors (including a natty rainbow finish), accessories (like a headband and hat), and some playful animations.

Hot on the heels of the Android rebrand comes Google's quarterly Android feature drop.  First up is the Assistant At a Glance widget for your home screen, a revamp of the existing At a Glance widget. It employs machine learning algorithms to offer snippets of relevant information, such as local weather, travel updates for your flights, and handy event reminders.

A new feature called Image Q&A on Google's Lookout app uses artificial intelligence to generate detailed descriptions of images, so instead of relying on rudimentary alt tags, people who are blind or have low vision can get proper descriptions of an image and even ask follow-up questions to learn more about it. Google has also added another 11 languages to the Lookout app, including Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

Google Wallet is getting the much-needed ability to import and digitize passes with barcodes or QR codes. That means you can upload a photo of your gym pass or library card and store a secure, digital version of it in Google Wallet, which will come in handy when you forget your actual wallet again.

Android Auto is getting support for Webex and Zoom audio conference calls. Yes, that means you can join meetings on either platform and browse your schedules on your car display. You can mute your mic and end the call through Android Auto. Handy for when you're running late but really need to join a call. Implementing it into your car's system hopefully means you won't use your phone while driving. 

The final new feature is tied to Google Assistant—you can add sleep-tracking data from Fitbit or Google Fit into a Google Assistant Routine. Say, “Hey Google, good morning” after you set it up to get a recap of your sleep stats alongside your morning news, including when you fell asleep and how many hours of shuteye you managed to get.

These features are rolling out starting today and do not require an over-the-air system update. Instead, keep an eye out for app updates in the Google Play Store.

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