Google announced what felt like a million things in a two-hour keynote to kick off its annual I/O developer conference. Instead of dancing around it, let’s jump right into all the biggest things Google has shown up.
Android 13 will make your app icons match your UI theme. credit: google
Google I/O is best understood as “the one showing off a new version of Android,” and that held true this year. Android 13 isn’t a major overhaul of the Android experience, as it appears to be an iterative step forward compared to major Android updates in other years. However, some of the joints are pretty neat.
For starters, a few things we already knew about the beta build, like app icons taking on the color of your UI theme and the ability to set different default languages for different apps, are all here. More meaty things include Google Wallet, a new catch-all place to store things like credit cards, vaccine cards, student IDs, digital car keys, driver’s licenses and even Disney World Park Passes. Yes, that’s a lot.
However, Google didn’t spend much time talking about the specific benefits of Android 13 for the phone. The biggest emphasis this year was on multi-device functionality. This includes an improved UI for tablets that includes a taskbar at the bottom of the screen, split-screen multitasking, and a nice multi-column view for messages that shows every conversation on the left side of the screen and whatever conversations you want. Looking to the right.
There will also be better casting functionality for beaming video from tablet to TV, or copying text on the phone and pasting it on the tablet. The smartwatch is also getting emergency SOS features in case you get into a jam without your phone.
It’s almost like Google wants to make a bunch of different hardware products or something. More on that later.
Pixel 6a (and 7!)
We got the smallest glimpses of the Pixel 7. credit: Google
Speaking of hardware, Google at I/O knew it was the upcoming Pixel 6a phone. Like previous Pixel A-series phones, this is a cheaper, somewhat downgraded version of last year’s Pixel 6. You’ll still find the same horizontal camera bar on the back and the same Tensor chip that made the Pixel 6 such a steady performer, but for a lesser $450 price tag. The downgrades mostly come in the form of a display cut (60Hz instead of 90Hz; 6.1 inches instead of 6.4 inches), but for the most part, it feels like a pretty solid mid-range device, just like previous Pixel A-series phones. Is.
Google played a dirty trick on every tech blogger who thought they knew what was coming and gave us an early glimpse at the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, both slated to launch this fall. it was a very The little preview is little more than confirmation that the camera bar will look different and include a new version of the Tensor chip. But it was enough to stress anyone who had to cover I/O Keynote Live.
Not that I am speaking of experience or anything.
Pixel Buds Pro
Could Google finally have a real competitor to the AirPods Pro? credit: google
Google’s prior forays into the wireless earbuds game have been a bit overwhelming, as last year’s most recent Pixel Buds had little to offer beyond a cheap $100 price point and good sound quality. Thankfully, it looks like we’ll get something better when the Pixel Buds Pro launches in July.
For $199, Google reimagined the Pixel Buds with a smaller form factor and active noise cancellation. The latter inclusion is the biggest improvement of all, as the previous Pixel Buds made up a good deal of ambient noise and ANC has become standard fare on wireless earbuds over the years. Battery life has also increased significantly, from five hours to 11 (or seven with ANC turned on).
It looks like Pixel owners will finally have their own version of AirPods Pro.
Pixel but on your wrist. credit: google
Google wasn’t teasing all that hardware interoperability as an idiosyncrasy. Yes, Google is making its own smartwatch and yes, it is called the Pixel Watch.
The reveal was a tease on the same level as the Pixel 7, as both the devices are expected to launch this fall. The Pixel Watch runs on Tensor, features a circular watch face on a stainless steel body, and will feature customizable watch bands. It’s also fully integrated with Fitbit for health and wellness tracking (you’d be forgiven for forgetting the Fitbit I bought from Google two and a half years ago).
The Google Wallet, Google Maps, and Google smart home apps all work seamlessly on the Pixel Watch as well. We’ll probably find out how much it costs in a few months.
Looks like a tablet, ok. credit: google
If you’re reading this and thinking, “You know, these fall product launches are way too soon for my liking,” might I interest you in something that won’t be out until 2023? If so, meet the Pixel tablet.
In a stream filled with vague teasing, this was the most teasing of them all. Google has given us a brief glimpse of what the Pixel tablet will look like, and what a tablet it looks like. In addition, Google promised that it would run on Tensor, like everything else in Google’s hardware portfolio. And that’s all we know so far. Don’t expect to hear much more about the Pixel Tablet until next year.
Enhanced Google Meet calls
Buddy, next time just face the window. credit: google
One of the small (but still cool) things Google showed off at I/O was the AI enhancement feature for Google Meet calls. Google’s fancy machine learning technology will be able to enhance the way others see your webcam feed in Google Meet, so anyone who’s been dealing with chronically dim lighting for the past two years should find some help here.
Just a reminder that it’s always an option to aim a Ring Light at your face as well.
nifty new search options
Multi-search near me in action. credit: google
Of course, Google wouldn’t be Google without its signature search engine that we all use to navigate the Internet every day. A lot of amazing new Google Search features didn’t arrive at the 2022 version of I/O, but the new “multi-search near me” function should at least make our lives a little more convenient.
Google already lets you search with both images and text (like including a picture of a leaky faucet with a search for replacement parts), but later this year, you’ll be able to add “near me” to these locally. Query for useful results from. If you see a dish you don’t know much about online, just multi-search an image of it with “near me” and you’ll find places in your area that serve it.
In addition, Google has enhanced visual search with a new “search within a view” feature. It’s very simple: You can pan your camera across a busy scene (like a grocery store aisle) and capture information about multiple objects within the frame. Comparing different brands of ranch dressing has never been easier.
Immersive View in Maps
Immersive view in action in London. credit: google
Google Maps just got another neat new feature called Immersive View at I/O 2022. This gives users an elevated, 3D overhead perspective of supported locations, which is considered nice, immersive compared to the current satellite view you may already be used to in maps. This also works in some indoor venues, such as restaurants, if you want to get a detailed view of how much seating is available before heading out for the night.
Google says that Immersive View will be rolling out in Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Tokyo and London by the end of 2022.
New translation languages and more diverse skin tone options
10-point Monk Skin Tone Scale. credit: google
Google spent a good part of its I/O keynote this year talking about how it’s trying to accommodate different types of people, both in terms of speech and physical appearance. For starters, 24 new languages have been added to Google Translate, including indigenous languages from the Americas like Quechua and Aymara for the first time.
In addition to greater linguistic representation, Google also announced wider support for diverse skin tones using the 10-point Monk Skin Tone (or MST) scale developed by Harvard professor Dr. Alice Monk. Ideally, most people’s skin tone should fit somewhere in this scale, which Google is offering as a free open-source development tool right now.
One of the examples of how this will appear to users right now is that you’ll be able to refine makeup searches in Google Images by skin tone, so people with darker skin tones won’t be overwhelmed with makeup suggestions. People with light skin. This is a small example of how MST can be used to improve the online experience for people who have been underrepresented in the past.
More Natural Google Assistant Conversations
The Google Nest Hub Max is the first beneficiary of Google’s latest Assistant improvements. credit: Zlata Ivleva / Mashable
For those who prefer to talk from their devices, Google has shown off a number of improvements to the Google Assistant. In the near future, Google is immediately rolling out a new “Look and Talk” feature for the Google Nest Hub Max smart home device. As its name suggests, this feature removes the need to start every query with “Hey Google”, instead the device starts listening to you as soon as you make eye contact. Just close your eyes to the Nest Hub Max, ask about the weather, and you should be golden.
In the longer term, Google announced that it is working on ways to make Assistant more responsive to natural slip-ups in conversations. Unexpected pauses, saying “um”, and other things that happen during any conversation should eventually be recognized by the assistant in such a way that they will no longer interrupt your questions.
Digital privacy is clearly only becoming more important over time and Google spent a lot of time talking about it in its I/O keynote. One of the more interesting new features Google showed off is “Virtual Cards”. You know how you can save credit card information in Chrome or Google Wallet? With virtual cards, auto-filling that information in a payment form will add another fake credit card number on top of it, causing your payment to go into the dreaded online wilderness without your real credit card number.
This option will be available to American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Capital One card holders in the US starting this summer.
Remove Personal Information from Google Search
Last but not least, Google has added a feature it probably should have added long ago: the ability to quickly and manually remove personal information about yourself from Google searches.
If you’ve ever searched for your own name on Google, you might have been shocked by how much of your life is visible for all to see. It’s super easy to find home addresses, phone numbers, and more on Google. With this new feature, you will be able to make an expedited removal request and subsequently monitor the status of the said request. There is no guarantee that this will happen successfully, but it is better than not having any control over your personal information at all.
Wow! Got it all? Google I/O 2022 was long, tiring, and extensive, but for Google die-hards and ordinary internet users alike, there’s a lot to chew on here. Here’s hoping we never have to see another dimly lit Google Meet call again.