These 6 new Android features land just in time for the holidays

Today, Google outlined a collection of new features that are rolling out to Android in time for the holidays. Many of these features are ones that are already available to smaller groups of Android users, whether they're features baked into Android 11 or they're features that are in testing, but soon they'll be rolling out to much wider group.

The first thing on Google's list is Gboard's Emoji Kitchen, which allows users to mix different emoji to make customized stickers. With a new update, Google says that there are now 14,000 different emoji combinations, and that users can simply tap two emoji to see a variety of different options. Thus far, Emoji Kitchen has only been available on the beta version of Gboard, but Google says that it will be rolling out to everyone running Gboard on Android 6.0 or later in the coming weeks.

Next up we've got Google Play's auto-generated narrators for audiobooks, which is available to some publishers in the US or UK already. This feature is fairly straightforward, as it automatically narrates books that aren't available in audiobook format so users can still listen along (without the flair of an actual audiobook narrator, we're assuming). While auto-narrated books are available to select publishers in beta, Google says that it will be rolling out to all publishers early next year, so get ready for a deluge of auto-narrated books.

Voice Access is a feature that's so far been exclusive to Android 11, but soon it'll be available to a much larger array of people. With machine learning taking the reins, users can employ Voice Access to navigate their phone truly hands-free, which is a very useful feature for those with motor disabilities. The feature is rolling out globally to devices running Android 6.0 or later now, and you can start using it by grabbing the Voice Access app from the Google Play Store [download].

Then we have the new Go Tab within Google Maps, which lets users navigate to frequently-visited places without having to enter addresses first. Users will be able to pin multiple destinations – and even multiple routes to those destinations – to see ETAs and traffic trends, while those using public transit will be able to pin their favorite routes to not only get ETAs but also departure times as well. We'll see this feature roll out in the coming weeks to both Android and iOS.

In addition to all of these, Google says that it will be rolling out Android Auto to a number of additional countries in the next few months – countries set to receive Android Auto support are highlighted in green in the images in the gallery embedded above. Finally, Google will soon be pushing out an update to Nearby Share that lets users share apps they downloaded from the Google Play Store with friends even without a cellular data or WiFi connection. Look for that update to land in the coming weeks.