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Google gives Android the AI treatment at MWC | TechCrunch


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Google’s Gemini implementation for AI image generation is facing a lot of criticism. But that isn’t stopping the search and mobile giant from riding the AI wave and rolling it out to more of its services. Today, Google announced a new set of features for phones, cars, and wearables — using Gemini to craft messages, AI-generated captions for images, summarizing texts through AI for Android Auto, along with access to passes on Wear OS.

The new features were unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona — an event where Google, as the company behind Android, has figured strongly for years.

The company said that starting this week, Google Messages will get a feature that lets you access Gemini in the app. The feature is currently in beta and only supports English.

Google is also rolling out a feature for Android Auto that reads out summaries of long text messages and contextualizes group chats. The feature, first announced last month, also dishes out quick suggestions for replies.

The search giant is also launching a few accessibility-related features at MWC. First, the company’s Lookout app, which helps visually impaired people with things like food labels and documents, will now generate AI-powered captions for images that have missing or inaccurate captions or alt text. The feature is now rolling out to all users across the globe with support for English. Last year, Google updated the Lookout app with an AI-powered assistant, which allowed users to ask questions about images.

Google is also rolling out improved screen reader support for Lens in Maps. Users can point their phone’s camera around them and TalkBack will read information about places and signs.

On the productivity front, Google is extending support for handwritten notes to docs on Android phones or tablets using just a finger or a stylus. You can choose from different pen styles and colors to highlight certain points in a document.

Additionally, the company is launching support for Spotify through an output switcher on the Android home screen. This means you can resume listening to a song or a podcast from one source to another source with Spotify. Previously this feature only supported YouTube Music.

Google is also updating the Fitbit app with support to get data from different sources like AllTrails, Oura Ring, and MyFitnessPal. The company redesigned the app with a new three-tabbed layout last year. The Today tab shows you data like exercise, steps, calories burned, and floors climbed. And the “You” tab shows you data from different apps along with Fitbit’s own data.

There are a few Wear OS-related updates as part of this announcement as well. You can now access Google Wallet passes like boarding passes, event tickets, gym memberships, and loyalty cards directly from the watch. Plus, you can get directions for transit by using voice. What’s more, there is an option to mirror directions from the phone or get compass-guided navigation directions.

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