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Google Tests Gemini AI Integration With Messages App, Rolls Out Multiple Productivity Features for Android

Android users eligible for beta programme will be able to chat with Gemini to draft messages and more.

Google Tests Gemini AI Integration With Messages App, Rolls Out Multiple Productivity Features for Android

Photo Credit: Google

Google will let users switch output devices for Spotify on Android home screen

  • New AI feature in Android Auto can summarise texts as the user drives
  • Lookout mode on Android can now generate AI captions of online images
  • Google Docs on Android is getting a handwritten annotations feature

Google rolled out nine new features for Android devices, including several generative artificial intelligence (AI)-based features, on Monday, February 26. The announcement of the features has coincided with the first day of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2024. The highlight among the features is the integration of Gemini, the company's latest AI-powered chatbot, into the Messages app. While it is currently in beta testing, the tech giant has begun rolling out other features for smartphones, Android Auto, and Wear OS.

The announcement was made via a post on Google's Newsroom, which highlighted that these new features are aimed at improving productivity of users. Gemini's integration with Google Messages is an interesting expansion by the company. Users who have enrolled in Google's beta testing programme should soon see it. The feature adds a separate chat box for Gemini where they can have a conversation, ask queries, get it to write or rewrite messages and much more. With this update, Gemini is available as a standalone app, as virtual assistant, and within the Messages app. It is not certain whether the feature will be included in the Gemini Advanced plan once it is out of testing.

Messages app is not the only place where AI is being added, however. Android Auto is also getting a similar feature where generative AI can summarize long texts or group chats and read it out while the user drives. It will also suggest relevant replies and actions that can be selected via just a single tap.

One accessibility feature is also being added to the Lookout app. The app is designed for visually impaired users and can identify objects, read texts, and more through the smartphone's camera. It will now automatically create AI-generate captions for images seen online or received through messages and read it out to users. It is rolling out globally in English. In the same vein, Google Maps is also getting an update to Lens in Maps, which was first added in October 2023. Users can now point the phone's camera at surroundings and the TalkBack feature will read the place's information out loud, including its business hours, rating or directions on how to get there.

A few non-AI features are also making their debut. The most notable is the handwritten annotation feature for Google Docs on Android. This will allow users to write and draw with either fingers or stylus on documents to create notes for themselves. The second is a tweak to the output switcher for Spotify, which allows users to pick the device where the output of the sound will come from. This can now be done directly from the home screen.

Finally, moving to the Wear OS-based features. Google is now rolling out an update to its Health Connect app that will allow users with wearables such as Fitbit, Oura Ring, and apps such as AllTrails and MyFitnessPal to integrate their data. The app will show detailed view of health and fitness trackers and will provide actionable insights on them.

Last two Wear OS features are smaller but can be useful for some users. Google Wallet passes are now available on Wear OS smartwatches and will allow users to access them directly. Google Maps for Wear OS will now show public transit directions to help users catch a bus or a train. The app will show details such as departure times, compass-guided navigation, and option to mirror directions from phone to the smartwatch.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 the best foldable phone you can buy in India right now? We discuss the company's new clamshell-style foldable handset on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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Akash Dutta
Akash Dutta is a Senior Sub Editor at Gadgets 360. He is particularly interested in the social impact of technological developments and loves reading about emerging fields such as AI, metaverse, and fediverse. In his free time, he can be seen supporting his favourite football club - Chelsea, watching movies and anime, and sharing passionate opinions on food. More
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