Google is rolling out updates to several Android apps as part of its winter 2020 update

Gboard, Voice Access, Android Auto, and Google Maps are just a few of Google's own apps that will see updates in the coming weeks.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
Image: Google

Google on Thursday announced updates to several of its own Android apps. The updates range from the start of expanding Android Auto in more countries, to adding a new Emoji Kitchen feature to Gboard. 

Image: Google

As is often the case with Google and Android updates, all of today's announcements will slowly become available over the coming weeks and months. Some of which will require you to install a beta version of the app before you can access the features. 

Gboard, for example, will have a new emoji feature that lets you combine multiple emojis to create a custom icon of your own. As you can see in the animated image, whenever you add more than one emoji to a message, you'll see an option to combine them. Leading to things like a snowman that's laughing until they cry. It's a unique and fun twist on something people use so often. Look for this update in the Gboard app in the coming weeks, or you can try the beta version of it right now

Google Play Books will start to auto-generate audiobooks for titles that don't otherwise have a narrated version. This feature will roll out in early 2021. 

Google Maps is getting a new Go Tab where you can save your frequently traveled places, like a grocery store or your office -- assuming you're still going to an office right now -- and the Go Tab will show you live traffic conditions, ETA, and other important info without you having to explicitly ask for it. Look for the new tab to show up on Android and iOS, again, in the coming weeks. 

Voice Assistant allows those with disabilities to control their phone using nothing but their voice. And Thursday's update, which is actually available in beta, will allow you to use the names of buttons (example: "back button") when giving commands to your phone. The feature was already available on Android 11 devices, but the update expands it to Android 6 and above. 

Android Auto is rolling out to more countries, 36 to be exact, over the coming months. There's not a specific list of countries available at this time. 

Lastly, Android's Nearby Share feature, which is a lot like Apple's AirDrop feature, that allows you to directly share files, links, and photos with people near you will be able to share apps from the Play Store. It's a small update to a very useful tool. 

What do you think about the updates Google announced today? Are they something you will use? The Go Tab in Google Maps seems like it'd be very useful for someone who has to commute to work or in pre-quarantine days. Let us know in the comments.

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