Geek Culture and Gadgets

Ahead of Android 12, Google Rolls Out Starred Messages, Better Emoji, and More – Review Geek

New Android features coming this summer

This week Google is rolling out several new features to Android ahead of the Android 12 release coming later this fall. Just in time for summer, Android is getting starred messages, contextual emoji, additional voice controls, and more.

Some of these new features got announced back at Google I/O 2021, while others we’ve seen in teasers but are now finally here or coming soon. Keep in mind that some of these are rolling out today or in the next week, while others say “later this summer.” Either way, all of these will arrive soon enough.

New Android Features Coming This Summer

  1. Starred Messages (favorite messages to easily find later)
  2. Expanding earthquake detection to more regions
  3. Better and more contextual Emoji suggestions
  4. More voice controls in 3rd party apps
  5. Improved password input and gaze detection on Voice Access
  6. Customization and Dark Mode toggle in Android Auto

While most users are patiently waiting for the Android 12 release later this year, Google isn’t. Today, the company has continued to add or expand features that will improve Android as a whole before the next big software update.

Starred Messages

First off is starred messages, or the ability to bookmark messages in Google Messages. This is a hugely popular feature that’s been missing for far too long.  Now, you can easily find important texts with an address, Wi-Fi password, photos, or other things without scrolling forever through a conversation.

Expanding Earthquake Detection

Lately, Google’s been rolling out a new earthquake alert and detection system that uses all the Android devices around the world, and it’s expanding to more regions. Android’s Earthquake Alerts System is available in seven more markets: Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Plus, Google promises that “most countries” will get it by 2022. We love this feature as it sends time-sensitive earthquake alerts right to phones, and in areas that don’t have detectors, some users can choose to let their phone double as a detector to help track into, alert others, and potentially save lives.

Emoji Kitchen Improvements

Starting today, Gboard has an even better selection of mashup Emoji stickers that are more contextual and helpful. That way, your keyboard can suggest emojis for you better than before.

Android emoji suggestions

Now when you type something in Gboard, hit the emoji button and you’ll see paired emoji stickers that are contextual, based on what you type, that are more conversational and expressive.

Better App Voice Controls, Gaze Detection, and Voice Access

Users can also expect to see improved voice control support for 3rd party apps. Letting you use your voice to launch, control, or open to specific areas of apps. We’ve seen something similar from Google in the past, but it looks like this is about to get way better. Try saying, “Hey Google, pay my Synchrony Bank bill,” to jump right into the app and complete the task. Google also improved the gaze detection and password options for Accessibility users.

Android Auto Dark Mode Toggle

Next, it looks like Google is ready to push out some huge changes to Android Auto. The biggest one, personally, is the option to manually toggle the dark mode on or off instead of it happening automatically. Then, Google added new tabs in media apps, a “back to top” option, and an A to Z button in the scroll bar for easy software navigation. That way, you can do things quickly and keep your eyes on the road.

And finally, the messaging experience on Android Auto is better, too, starting today around the globe. You can now read and sent messages directly from third-party apps like WhatsApp and Messages, and hopefully more in the future.

Expect to see several new features or expansions today, this week, or later this summer.


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Geek Culture and Gadgets

Twinkly’s Bendable LED Strips Promise to Light Up Your Creativity – Review Geek

The Twinkly Flex lights controlled by smartphones.

Looking for a creative way to light up your home? Twinkly just launched the Line and Flex LED strips, two smart lighting solutions with customizable colors and lighting animations. They’re available for pre-order now through Twinkly’s resalers.

Between the two new products, Twinkly’s Flex LED strip seems the most interesting. It can bend to any shape you want, unlocking a world of design possibilities. The Twinkly app can also identify the shape of your Flex lights, allowing you to preview how colors, effects, or animations will look in real life.

But the Twinkly Line strip is also very exciting. It sports in-app customization options that are similar to the Flex strip, but it’s better suited for discreet lighting environments, like behind your TV, under beds or furniture, or under your kitchen cabinets.

Both strips require wired power but feature Bluetooth and Wi-Fi control, plus Google Assistant, Alexa, and HomeKit compatibility. They also work with Razer Chroma setups, though you have to download the Chroma Connector software to get things working.

The Twinkly Flex is 6.5 feet long, while the Line is 5 feet long (extendible to 10 feet). Both are available for pre-order through Twinkly’s resalers.

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Geek Culture and Gadgets

The Biggest Apple Watch Improvements Might Be Years Away – Review Geek

The Apple Watch Series 6

Those who are looking for a good reason to upgrade their Apple Watch may need to wait a few years. A new Bloomberg report suggests that blood glucose and body temperature monitoring aren’t coming this year, and that the 2021 Apple Watch lineup offers just a few minor improvements over previous models.

Apple will probably release a Series 7 Watch this year with an upgraded processor, a new display, and ultra-wideband support (likely to improve AirTag tracking and Find My functionality). We may also see a sequel to the affordable Apple Watch SE. Because last year’s SE was like an upgraded version of the Series 4 Watch, the new model may look and feel like the Series 5. Small improvements like ultra-wideband support are expected in the 2021 SE.

While Apple is working on blood sugar and body temperature monitoring, Bloomberg states that these features will not appear in 2021 Apple Watch models. Body temperature sensors could make their way to the 2022 Apple Watch lineup (which may include a rugged “explorer” model), but blood glucose monitoring is “several years away.”

Hopefully Bloomberg’s timeline is off, because glucose and body temperature monitoring would be very useful today. People don’t always realize when they have a fever (even in the era of COVID-19), and for diabetics, the ability to check blood sugar at any moment of the day without a finger prick is a big deal. These features could also link to Apple’s Health app for the upcoming Share Data tool, which alerts doctors or family members when the Apple Watch detects a health crisis or finds an unfavorable health reading.

Source: Bloomberg

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