Technology

Android is introducing a read-aloud mode and digital car key sharing.

Digital car keys can be shared with iPhone and Pixel users for the time being, but not with other Android devices.

Android has announced a slew of new mobile and smartwatch features, including new accessibility tools and quality-of-life enhancements for digital car keys, Google TV, and watchOS. One of the most significant announcements is the addition of a reading mode for Android — a new feature that creates a more accessible screen reading experience that is not tied to specific apps.

To use Reading mode, you must first download an app from the Google Play store, which adds new adjustable display and audio options — such as contrast, font type, and size — allowing users to tailor how content is displayed on their phone to best meet their specific needs. A new text-to-speech function with speed control is also available, along with a selection of “natural-sounding voices” in English, French, Italian, and Spanish. Reading mode is also compatible with Google Talkback screen readers and works on websites as well as native Android apps.

Moving on to vehicles, an update to the digital car key feature (which allows you to lock, unlock, and start a compatible car using only your phone) will allow you to share your digital key with trusted individuals remotely. Users can view and control who has access to their car from the phone’s digital wallet app, though there’s no word on whether this ability will be limited to a single “master” key holder. Today, digital car keys can be shared with Pixel 6 and iPhone devices, with the feature expected to be available soon to select phones running Android versions 12 or higher.

A similar feature has been available to iPhone users for some time, though the support page states that the service is dependent on vehicle model compatibility. Amina Moock, a Google spokesperson, said you’ll be able to share digital car keys for “select” BMW vehicles, and we’ve requested more information.

A new batch of seasonal emoji mash-ups via Emoji Kitchen for Gboard and new style designs created by DabsMyla and Yao Cheng Design in the Google Photos collage editor to customize your images are among the smaller updates. Google TV will also get a new tap-to-watch feature, which will allow users to cast directly from the Google TV app to a compatible TV with a single tap. The tap to watch on Google TV feature will be available in the app starting next week.

Finally, later this month, the Google Keep app for Wear OS will receive an update that will carry over all the photos, co-authors, and background colors added to your notes from your phone, making them viewable from your smartwatch. Over the next week, watchOS will also receive a new feature that will allow users to quickly access over 30 different types of exercises with the Adidas Running app via Google Assistant. Using the example from Android’s announcement, saying “Hey Google, start a run with adidas Running” will open the app and begin tracking your workout automatically.

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