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Android Gets Major Feature Update for Surface Duo and Other Smartphones

Google is issuing a surprise feature update for Android, expanding the Emoji Kitchen, automizing book narration, and improving Google Maps.


has thrown itself wholesale behind mobile apps. Since ending Windows Phone, the company knows its gateway into smartphone is through apps for its services.That focus is more weighted towards these days because the company's Surface Duo runs 's platform.

For uses of the Surface Duo, or any other supported Android smartphone, Google is rolling out a new update. It's a feature-heavy release, too.

What's interesting about this stacked update is it comes outside Android's annual release. This is rare for Google as the company usually like to keep big features for its early Android (insert letter) releases. Still, we are not complaining.

“With the holidays around the corner, we're sharing six new Google features for Android, a few more ways your phone gets more helpful over time, even outside of major OS updates,” Google's Ajay Gokhale says“Whether you're texting holiday greetings to loved ones or winding down with a book, Android can help.”

New Features

“Emoji Kitchen for Gboard: Emoji Kitchen is going from hundreds of unique design combinations to over 14,000. Each mix makes it easier for you to express yourself with a little extra flair.

Automatic book narration: Now Google Play, working with publishers in the U.S. and the UK, will use auto-generated narrators so books without audio versions can be narrated—meaning you'll have more audio titles to choose from on Play Store.

Voice Access: Now using machine learning technology, you can add labels to the screens of your Android apps to help you work within them with your voice. For example, you can say “open Photos”, “tap Search”, “tap Your Map” to see a map of all your photos.

Go tab: With the new Go Tab in Google Maps, you can more easily navigate to frequently-visited places with just one tap. Pin your favorite driving destinations like school or a grocery store to quickly see directions, live traffic trends, disruptions on your route, and an accurate ETA—all without typing the place's address.

Android Auto Reaching More Regions: Over the next few months, Android Auto will be expanding to new countries, bringing your favorite apps and services from your phone onto your car display.”

If you own a Surface Duo or another Android device, you may be wondering when this update will be available. Well, now is the official answer from Google. However, as you probably know, Android updates are dependent on OEMs.

The platform's notorious fragmentation means some OEMs will work faster than others to get this update to users.

Last Updated on December 12, 2020 12:34 pm CET

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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