2020 has been a standout 12 months in additional methods than one. On private, nationwide, and international ranges, many people have confronted hardships and needed to adapt to new realities and life-altering modifications. On today, although, I might prefer to put the adverse ideas apart and deal with what has saved us rolling right here at Android Police regardless of all of it.
We love devices (duh), we love Android, and we love digging, discovering, and reporting on the smallest and largest options that come to these steel and glass sheets that we feature with us in all places. A few of them are dangerous, dangerous, evil modifications; others are far more welcome. Within the spirit of positivity, I might prefer to deal with the latter on this put up and share with you our favourite 10 Android options from this 12 months, whether or not they got here with Android 11, a Google app replace, or a Pixel Function Drop.
Maintain for me
Google Assistant’s Duplex and Name Display on Pixels might have paved the best way for it, however nothing mentally ready us for the awesomeness of Maintain for me. The function, which launched with the Pixel 5 and later trickled down the line-up, is a big time-saver for anybody who has to name an organization or assist middle. As a substitute of sitting by the interminable wait whereas listening to horrible maintain music, you let Assistant monitor the decision and go in your merry approach. As soon as somebody on the different finish of the road picks up, your cellphone beeps, vibrates, and tells you the decision is prepared. None of this might be doable with out AI, and whereas the function is restricted to Pixels within the USA at the moment, it is an actual breakthrough in tech that we hope in the future can be prepared for all units throughout all international locations and languages.
RCS for all
RCS, the protocol that takes SMS to the subsequent stage because of learn receipts, typing indicators, and high-quality media sharing, had been a fairly fragmented mess for years due to carriers adopting their very own non-interoperable variations. Then Google purchased Jibe, adopted the GSMA’s Common Profile, and took issues into in its personal arms by rolling out “Chat Options” (aka RCS) into its Messages app, no matter provider. It began within the UK and France in 2019, however unfold to dozens of different international locations in 2020, till it turned obtainable worldwide in November. This month, we additionally noticed it in motion in Samsung’s personal messaging app, that means RCS is now really universally obtainable on Android, independently of nation, provider, cellphone model, and (virtually) messaging app.
Though most of us have moved on from SMS to different messaging providers, it is good to know that ought to all else fail and we have to textual content somebody’s cellphone quantity, the fundamental performance has been upgraded and now affords a number of trendy options.
Many Android customers used to envy Apple’s AirDrop simplicity as a result of it permits recordsdata to be despatched from one gadget to a different with out having to mess with Bluetooth, NFC, or any complicated settings. The built-in Beam perform in Android by no means took off as a correct cross-device file sharing technique, and needed to be scraped off and changed by Close by Share. The latter is simple to allow by a fast settings toggles and is a part of the Share sheet on most telephones now. You simply faucet to share from one Android gadget, approve the request on one other, and identical to magic, the recordsdata fly over. Close by Share made its shy debut in June then unfold to all Android 6.0+ units in August. I can not wait to see it come to Chrome on all platforms, so I lastly have a common and easy solution to bounce recordsdata between my computer systems and telephones.
Android has three easy-to-reach surfaces the place it will possibly current you info and allow you to work together with it: the homescreen, the fast settings and notifications drop-down, and the ability button menu. With Android 11, the latter was taken to a brand new stage because of the combination of good residence controls on prime of cost playing cards. Simply maintain the ability button and you can pay on your purchases or management your lights, plugs, thermostats, TVs, and Chromecasts with out having to launch any particular app. It is quick and helpful, and though I am personally responsible of forgetting this function exists half of the time, I really like that it is there and I can not wait till it provides assist for extra related units, like good blinds and locks.
Gboard’s Emoji Kitchen
By far my most used new function of 2020 are these mixture emojis that Google’s first-party keyboard has added. The function first confirmed up in January, but it surely was fairly primary then: Decide one emoji, get eight totally different stickers based mostly on it however with a twist on prime (coronary heart, monkey, ghost, kissing, unhappy, and so forth…). Then issues went super-next-level when the choice to mix virtually any emoji confirmed up in October. A poop and a newspaper? Shitty information. Crown and a bee? Queen bee. A cat and a cowboy hat? An cute cat sporting a cowboy hat, d’oh. Sizzling dot and a espresso mug? A scorching canine dunked in espresso. No, significantly. You may even intensify emojis by combining the identical one twice, to let your pleasure, unhappiness, frustration, melancholy, love, and different emotions shine by.
The combos really feel like they’re infinite and day by day I uncover enjoyable, ridiculous, helpful, genius, or awkward new ones to spruce up my chats. To be frank, these can be on the prime of this record if I had been being trustworthy, however I needed to look critical and put some helpful options above them within the countdown.
Gboard’s clipboard strategies
We’re that includes Gboard twice on this record as a result of the keyboard upped its sport with one other addition in 2020. Its prime row is now contextual and affords good replies in some messaging apps or suggests to stick the textual content you simply copied. I am specializing in the latter right here as a result of it is a pleasant time-saver. For those who’re copying textual content, you simply have to pick out and replica the wanted blurb, then change to the place you need to paste and simply place your cursor. The suggestion chip will instantly seem on prime of your keyboard. Faucet it as soon as and it is inserted. It is seamless and removes the necessity to faucet and maintain then paste.
This pasting suggestion in Gboard had a predecessor within the type of a Pixel-only function final 12 months, however fortunately, somebody at Google was smart sufficient to decouple it and make it obtainable system-wide on any gadget with Gboard. Now we are able to all save valuable little seconds when copying phrases, hyperlinks, login particulars, and 2FA codes.
One-time and auto-revoked app permissions
Every latest Android model has introduced a slew of privateness enhancements, together with a bunch of tweaks to permissions that allow you to select how and when an app can entry your information. With Android 11, issues had been pushed additional thanks to 2 additions: one-time permissions and auto-removal of previously-granted permissions. The previous allows you to give an app entry to your location or microphone or digital camera as soon as, then it’d must ask for it once more, making it excellent for that supply app that solely must know your property deal with as soon as, or that app that when requested you to open the cam to scan a barcode. The latter is beneficial for any app you hardly ever use: If it is on, all granted permissions will likely be revoked should you do not open the app for a couple of months, and you will have to permit them once more once you use it.
Our pictures on a map
For years, Google Maps has been capable of show pics you shot throughout any day’s journey timeline, however the reverse integration wasn’t obtainable till 2020. When Google Photographs acquired its three-tab redesign in June, it added a brand new map part within the Search tab, letting you view all of your pics on a map, zoom out and in, and even examine your day by day path for each bunch of pics. It is a superb solution to reminisce about previous travels or discover that odd route you as soon as took to keep away from visitors earlier than ending up with the perfect view within the metropolis beneath your eyes.
Google Lens homework and extra
Lens is one among Google’s little hidden however highly effective options and it retains getting higher and higher. Its recognition talents are already built-in in Photographs, your digital camera viewfinder, Android’s Overview (aka multitasking or Recents) app switcher, and so they additionally present up occasionally when you choose textual content or photos in different apps, but it surely gained much more talents and smarts in 2020. It may now learn chosen textual content or ship it to one among your computer systems, assist you decide the perfect dishes in eating places, and remedy math and science for you. Think about seeing a web site URL or a reduction code in actual life and eager to examine it later. You open Lens, scan it, and ship it to your pc. The subsequent time you are at your desk, the textual content you copied will likely be ready for you in Chrome. Seamless and helpful.
Maintain and Assistant integration
Whereas technically you’ll be able to decide between Maintain, Any.do, Anylist, and Carry as your Google Assistant’s notes and lists supervisor, it is the Maintain integration that is most essential to many people. Those that have adopted the saga since 2017 know the way relieved all of us had been when the combination between the 2 providers got here again. Whereas technically this function went reside final 12 months, it was mid-December and it hadn’t actually unfold to everybody simply but. So we’ll spherical that as much as say it launched in early 2020, ok?
Because of it, you should use voice instructions so as to add issues to your buying record or to-do record, create new lists or examine present ones, and dictate new notes or ask about your saved ones. I can not rely what number of occasions this 12 months my husband or I’ve added objects to our frequent buying record whereas cooking by simply saying “Hey Google.” It is delightfully easy and miles higher than pulling out the cellphone, opening Maintain, discovering the notice, and typing issues with our soiled grubby fingers.
I may go on and on about all the brand new options I’ve loved this 12 months on Android, in varied Google apps and providers, or by my Pixel units, however I will cease at these 10. Honorable mentions embody Google Duo’s bigger group calls and display screen sharing, Calendar’s Duties integration, Maps’ visitors lights and incognito mode, all of the enhancements which have made YouTube Music extra usable, and the smorgasbord of options that got here with Android 11.