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Android gets AI-powered image descriptions and animated voice messages


Google is introducing a series of updates across Android, Wear OS, and Google TV devices, each bringing new features to their respective platforms. For Android devices, such as smartphones, there are updated Emoji Kitchen sticker combinations that allow users to remix emojis and share them as stickers via Gboard.

Google Messages on Android is receiving a refreshing update with a beta feature called Voice Moods. This feature enables users to add a unique background and an animated emoji to voice messages, enhancing the expression of emotions in the moment. The update also introduces new reactions for messages, expanding beyond simple thumbs-ups, with some reactions taking up the entire screen. Users will now have the option to customize chat bubble colors as well.

A notable addition is an AI-generated image description tool for enhanced accessibility, catering to individuals with low vision. The TalkBack feature will audibly describe any image, whether from the internet or a user’s photo, providing a more inclusive experience. Furthermore, Google is expanding the language support for its Live Caption feature, which already allows users to take phone calls without needing to hear the speaker. These updates contribute to improving overall accessibility.

Wear OS is receiving several incremental updates. Users can now control a broader range of smart home devices and light groups directly from their watches, offering convenience in managing mood lighting. Additionally, users can inform their smart home devices about their presence or absence with a simple tap. The update introduces an Assistant Routines feature that automates daily tasks, along with an Assistant At a Glance shortcut on the watch face, displaying relevant information such as weather and traffic data for the day.

In the realm of Google TV, there are ten new free channels added, expanding the total to over 800. Notably, these channels don’t require an additional subscription but may include commercials. While these updates commence rollout today, it may take a few weeks before they reach all users.

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