Google tried to make up for lost time at its annual developer conference this week by announcing a massive Android overhaul and new features to help users work from home, shop, and do more to protect their data. personal.
After canceling Google I / O last year due to the pandemic, the company launched a virtual version of the event on Tuesday. Google staff members wore masks and stretched out to watch the opening speech on the lawn of its Mountain View, Calif. Campus – a big contrast to previous years when it gathered thousands of attendees in a arena.
Here are some of the biggest announcements to date from the multi-day event.
Android 12 review
Google has unveiled a new look for Android 12, the latest version of its mobile operating system. It features bigger buttons, a large clock on the home screen that changes size depending on the number of notifications that appear, and muted pastel colors.
Android 12 goes a lot into customization: users will be able to change the color scheme, and when a wallpaper is selected, the system will determine which colors are dominant and complementary by adding nuances to volume controls, widgets and other tools to complete the look.
Google says Android 12 will allow devices to be more responsive with better battery life, as the new software will put less strain on processors. Google also rolled out a slew of productivity updates, including an option to hold down the power button to call up Google Assistant to make a phone call or request an article read aloud.
More attention to privacy
With rival Apple doubling down on its privacy features, Google used Tuesday’s event to promote its own efforts.
The new software gives users more transparency about the personal data accessible by various applications and the means to control it. A new privacy dashboard provides an overview of permission settings and allows users to revoke those permissions from the dashboard. And a new indicator tool will automatically light up when an app accesses your microphone or camera.
The company is also adding a feature that uses Google Assistant to notify users when their passwords have been compromised and help them change them. Meanwhile, a new tool called Folder locked In Google Photos, users can add photos to a password-protected space and they won’t show up when users scroll through photos or other apps on a phone. (In a demo, Google showed someone who was keeping a photo of their children’s new puppy a secret.) The feature will first roll out on Google Pixel smartphones and other Android devices throughout the year. ‘year.
Meet our telecommuting needs
Perhaps to nod to the new normal of telecommuting, Google has unveiled new productivity tools to make working from home more seamless. Most notable is Smart Canvas, which allows services like Google Docs and Sheets to be more flexible and connected using @ -mentions, checklists, pageless formats, and emoji reactions.
The future of wearables and AR
Google resurrects WearOS, its wearable platform for smartwatches, with help from Samsung and the Tizen software platform.
In late 2019, Google announced plans to acquire wearable fitness tracker company Fitbit for $ 2.1 billion, but we haven’t heard much from the category since. Now, the company is showing its vision for the future of wearable devices, with deep Fitbit integration for workout and motion tracking.
The company is also bringing more augmented reality tools to phones. With AR View via Google Maps, users can fly over restaurants, landmarks, and get directions indoors, starting later this year. Users can also take a photo of a math problem to find out the result. Likewise, taking a photo of an item you see in the real world, such as a patio furniture set in a restaurant, will identify the brand and price so you can purchase it yourself.
The smart assistant gets smarter
Google teased a new natural language processing platform called LaMDA that helps artificial intelligence be more conversational. In a demo, Google showed what a conversation with inanimate objects would look like for educational purposes, like the planet Pluto or a paper airplane. This effort shows how Google continues to devote more resources to growing the intelligence and versatility of its smart assistant.
Avoid painful memories
Finally, Google will make it easier to choose what content people want to look back on, allowing users to prevent photos of certain people or times that may be painful or unwanted from showing in Memories in Google Photos – a sore point. For years. various platforms.