author_name|Cheyenne MacDonald

Google brings Gemini to Messages and adds AI text summaries for Android Auto

Google has announced a slew of Android updates to kick off MWC this year, including Gemini integration with Messages and AI-powered text summaries for when you’re driving. As of this week, Messages users will be able to access Google’s chatbot without leaving the texting app. Gemini in Messages can handle basic tasks like drafting messages and helping to plan events, or you can just chat with it if you’re bored. The feature is still in beta, and it’s only available to English-language Messages users for now, Google says.

Android Auto is also getting a boost from AI that could help minimize distractions from people texting you while you’re on the road. If the group chat is blowing up your phone with nonstop messages or if someone is sending you novels of text, Android Auto will automatically summarize the messages and read you its more succinct version. It’ll also suggest replies and actions based on the messages, like sharing your ETA, so you can respond with a single tap and focus on driving.

Android Auto displayed on a rendering of a car infotainment screen showing a message to a contact named Brianna Travis asking
Google

Google also announced some new accessibility features for Android at MWC, including AI-generated image captions in the Lookout app. It’ll be able to generate descriptions for images found online or received in messages and read them aloud to the user. The feature is only available in English to start, but is rolling out globally. Google’s Lens feature in Maps is getting an enhanced screen reader option as well, which will allow users to point their phone’s camera at something in front of them, like a restaurant or transit station, and hear information about it.

The Android updates also include new casting controls for Spotify called Spotify Connect so users can switch seamlessly between their devices, like from your headphones to a speaker. This feature was already available for YouTube Music.

A phone showing Spotify Connect casting controls, with options for several devices for the user to choose from
Google

Catch up on all of the news from MWC 2024 right here!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-brings-gemini-to-messages-and-adds-ai-text-summaries-for-android-auto-080051647.html?src=rss

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You can now mark up your Google Docs with handwritten notes on Android devices

Google Docs is getting an annotation feature that will let you mark up your documents just like you might with a pen and paper. With today’s update, announced at MWC 2024, Google Docs users on Android devices can use a finger or stylus to write notes, highlight text and circle words to their heart’s desire. Google says the feature will work on Android tablets and smartphones, so it’s got some real potential to give devices like foldables even more of a productivity boost. It should also make for a smoother way to sign digital documents.

Android users will have access to multiple pen colors and highlighters with the new annotation tool for Google Docs, which is good news for anyone who loves color-coding their notes. If the popularity of digital notebooks like reMarkable’s tablets or Amazon’s Kindle Scribe has taught us anything, it’s that, as speedy as typing may be, plenty of people still prefer writing by hand when it’s an option. The only thing this update seems to be missing is the ability to convert handwriting to text, which would allow for more extensive writing tasks. Apple is a few steps ahead in that regard, offering the feature for Apple Pencil users on several of its native iPad productivity apps, like Pages and Numbers.

Catch up on all of the news from MWC 2024 right here!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/you-can-now-mark-up-your-google-docs-with-handwritten-notes-on-android-devices-080050320.html?src=rss

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Google finally brings Wallet passes to Wear OS watches along with transit directions

Google is finally giving Android smartwatch owners a feature they’ve been wanting for years: Google Wallet passes. Among its many announcements at MWC, Google said today that it’s officially bringing boarding passes, event tickets, gym memberships, loyalty cards and other passes that might be stored in your Google Wallet to Wear OS. It’s one area where Wear OS has lagged way behind the Apple Watch, which has long had passes. 

While some users have sporadically reported seeing the feature pop up over the last month or so, Google is only now confirming its arrival. Any passes you’ve added to Google Wallet will show up with a QR code or barcode on your Wear OS watch with the update, and you can choose to hide whichever ones you don’t need at the moment. Google is also adding the ability to get detailed public transit directions on your watch so you don’t need to take out your phone to figure out where you’re going. You’ll be able to look up departure times from your wrist, and get step-by-step directions or a guided map view to your destination.

Catch up on all of the news from MWC 2024 right here!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-finally-brings-wallet-passes-to-wear-os-watches-along-with-transit-directions-080010242.html?src=rss

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Lenovo and Motorola’s Smart Connect makes it easier to manage tasks across your devices

Motorola and Lenovo have announced a new cross-device management tool at MWC 2024 called Smart Connect that lets users seamlessly switch tasks from one device to another. You could, for example, move a podcast from your phone to your tablet without losing your place using only a swipe gesture, or easily share files between connected devices using a unified Share Hub. The companies haven’t yet released the full list of compatible devices, but so far say Smart Connect will work with Lenovo PCs running Windows 10 or later and only some Lenovo tablets and Motorola devices.

Smart Connect will allow users to navigate between multiple devices using the same keyboard and mouse without interruptions, and receive synced notifications across connected devices. It brings a smart clipboard feature too, which serves as a single clipboard for all the connected devices, so you can copy and paste items from one device to another. Smart Connect will also let users turn their phone into a hotspot for a connected tablet or PC, or use it as a webcam. Users will also be able to cast content from their phones to other connected devices, say to watch a video on a bigger screen. Smart Connect will be available in a few months through the Microsoft Store and Google Play Store.

In addition to Smart Connect, Motorola is showing off the adaptive display concept it introduced last fall. Motorola’s concept rollable display can be morphed from a slab into other shapes to fit different needs, like a tent-style setup that allows it to stand on its own or wrapped around a person’s wrist like a watch.

Motorola adaptive display concept showing a display bent like a tent to stand up on a table
Christopher Dilts / Motorola
Motorola's adaptive display wrapped on a person's wrist like a watch
Christopher Dilts / Motorola

Catch up on all of the news from MWC 2024 right here!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lenovo-and-motorolas-smart-connect-makes-it-easier-to-manage-tasks-across-your-devices-230058598.html?src=rss

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Barbie’s hot pink flip phone is coming to the real world this summer

If you were wondering when brands will finally stop trying to cash in on the Barbie craze, the answer is, somehow, not yet. HMD (or Human Mobile Devices), which has been making Nokia phones for the past few years, announced for MWC that it’s partnered with Mattel to release an official Barbie Flip Phone this summer. It’ll be pink, obviously, with a dash of “sparkle.”

Aesthetically, it sounds a lot like the original hot pink Motorola Razr of the aughts. But while that phone eventually got rebooted as a smartphone for the era of modern foldables, the Barbie phone is keeping things pretty basic. It’ll be a feature phone, not a smartphone, with HMD marketing it as an accessory geared toward “style, nostalgia and a much-needed digital detox.” HMD hasn’t revealed much else about it yet, like pricing or actual photos, but the company says it plans to unveil the Barbie Flip Phone at MWC, so we'll likely see more of it as the week unfolds. 

Most people may not be ready to ditch their smartphones entirely just yet, but if you’re looking for a burner, this is probably one of the cutest you could get.

A Barbie is pictured lying on a picnic table with a plastic dog in front of her and a pink flip phone lying open on its side
HMD

Catch up on all of the news from MWC 2024 right here!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/barbies-hot-pink-flip-phone-is-coming-to-the-real-world-this-summer-170805284.html?src=rss

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Samsung’s Galaxy Ring will officially make its public debut this week at MWC

We’re about to get our first real look at Samsung’s Galaxy Ring. In a blog post this weekend ahead of Mobile World Congress, the company revealed it’ll have the Galaxy Ring on display at its booth at the Barcelona convention, which starts tomorrow. Samsung hasn’t said much yet about what the Galaxy Ring will be capable of since teasing it at the end of its Unpacked event in January, but we do know it’s a wellness-oriented wearable positioned to rival the likes of Oura.

Samsung today described the Galaxy Ring as “a new health form factor that simplifies everyday wellness, supporting smarter and healthier living via a more connected digital wellness platform.” All we’ve really seen of it so far is a rendering, though. 

Aside from the Galaxy Ring, Samsung’s booth will heavily promote its Galaxy AI, with a hands-on interactive experience. The company also says it’s expanding Galaxy AI to more of its products, including the Galaxy Z Fold 5, Z Flip 5 and Tab S9 series, plus the Galaxy Watch 6, Galaxy S23 series and S23 FE. It's also got plans for Galaxy AI applications in its new Galaxy Book 4 series and, of course, the Galaxy Ring we still know next to nothing about.

Catch up on all of the news from MWC 2024 right here!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/samsungs-galaxy-ring-will-officially-make-its-public-debut-this-week-at-mwc-152740877.html?src=rss

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