Android introduces read mode and digital car key sharing

Android introduces read mode and digital car key sharing

Android has announced a number of new features for mobile and smartwatch devices, introducing new accessibility tools and quality of life updates for digital car keys, Google TV and watchOS. One of the big announcements is the introduction of a reading mode for Android – a new feature that creates a more accessible screen reading experience without being tied to specific apps.

To use Reader Mode, you need to install an app from the Google Play Store, which provides new adjustable display and sound options – such as contrast, font and size – allowing users to customize how content is displayed on their phone to best perform their individual needs. In addition, a new text-to-speech feature with speed control is available with a selection of “natural-sounding voices” to choose from, with support for English, French, Italian and Spanish. Reading Mode is also compatible with the Google Talkback screen reader and works across websites and native Android apps.

A GIF of a phone showing Android read mode in action.

Reading Mode improves accessibility with customizable contrast, text size, text-to-speech and fonts across web pages and apps.
Image: Google

As you move to vehicles, an update to the Digital Car Key feature (which lets you lock, unlock and start a compatible car with just your phone) will allow you to remotely share your digital key with trusted people. Users can see and control who has access to their car from their phone’s digital wallet app, although there’s no mention of whether the ability to control access will be limited to a single “master” key holder. Digital car keys can initially be shared with Pixel 6 and iPhone devices today, with the feature expected to be available for select phones running Android versions 12 or higher in the near future.

iPhone users have had access to a similar feature for some time now, although the support site notes that the service is dependent on compatibility with vehicle models. There are few details on which cars and car manufacturers will work with Android’s own digital car key sharing function at launch. We’ve asked for clarification and will update this story if we hear back.

A gif of a phone showing how Android's new Digital Car Key feature will work.

Digital Car Key is only available for select vehicles and works with the Pixel 6 and iPhones, with support for Android devices coming at a later date.
Image: Google

Some minor updates include 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 personalize your photos. Google TV also gets a new tap to watch option that lets users cast directly from the Google TV app to a compatible TV with a single tap. Users can then use their phones as a remote control while browsing or using other apps. The tap to watch Google TV feature will start rolling out to the app next week.

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

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