From Android 12 with radical new design to Wear OS reboot, all the top announcements from Google I/O 2021

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Updated: May 19, 2021 7:42 PM

Here’s a look at all the major announcements Google made during the big conference.

Well, the conference had been cancelled last year, so by no means was Google not going to make this one a big event.

Google I/O 2021: Google’s major developer conference, the Google I/O, kicked off on Tuesday with a keynote address in which several announcements were made. The new announcements include the new look that Android 12 would be getting along with several features being incorporated into the tech giant’s productivity suite Google Workspace. Here’s a look at all the major announcements Google made during the big conference.

The new look of Android 12

This was one of the major announcements that enthusiasts were looking forward to.

The upcoming Android 12 is being touted by Google as having the biggest design change ever in the history of Android. In the new Android, users would get to completely customise the way their phone screen looks, being able to choose a custom colour palette and redesigned widgets. Based on the wallpaper that the user chooses, the system would automatically detect colours that are dominant, along with those that would complement the wallpaper and those that would simply look good. The entire OS is then changed to those colours, including the volume controls, the lock screen as well as the widgets.

With the new OS, the animations and motions are also going to be more fluid, Google has claimed.

Google has also taken a leaf from Apple’s book. To address recently increasing concerns regarding privacy, Google has said that with Android 12, users would be able to see the apps that were accessing user data, along with allowing them to choose the extent of personal information they wish to share with apps. This announcement has come on the heels of the implementation of Apple’s iOS 14.5 that mandates apps to get explicit permission from users to access their data in a bid to make iPhones more secure for users.

Google might also have gone a step further by adding small icons on the top right corner of the screen that would let users know when an app was accessing their camera and/or microphone.

Also read | Android 12 first look, impressions: Google builds a fun, playful and more personal operating system

Updates in Google Workspace

Collectively called ‘Smart Canvas’, Google has introduced several new features in the Workspace, including giving Docs a pageless feature with removed page boundaries which would allow users to change the size of the screen without the words reducing in size or the tables getting cut off by page breaks due to these changes in words. Not only that but the word suggestions by Docs would now be more inclusive, like suggesting that a user write chairperson instead of chairman, etc.

Apart from this, Google has also shared that it is integrating Google Meet with Docs, Sheets as well as Slides so that users can have a meeting in the same tab as the document on which the team is working. This feature could come in handy for all sorts of group projects.

LaMDA AI technology

Google is working with an experimental AI technology called LaMDA, using which its AI Assistant would one day be able to have more natural conversations with users, the tech giant said. The abilities of the technology were demonstrated during the keynote address, with Google showing a video with two short conversations with the model. While LaMDA was answering questions as Pluto in the first conversation, the second conversation saw it impersonating a paper plane. During the conversation, the model referred to proper facts and events, as well.

New developments in Wear

The biggest news that came in this segment from Google was that it was collaborating with Samsung to form a single, unified platform for Wear as well as Tizen, in order to give users “faster performance, longer battery life and more of the apps you love available for the watch,” Google said. It added that the teams from the two tech giants worked together to ensure that apps were working 30% faster on the latest chipsets.

Project Starline

The pandemic has seen people take to video calling more than ever before as people are stuck in different cities and have no idea as to when they might be finally able to meet their loved ones. However, that is as close to sitting face-to-face and chatting that they have been able to get. But now, Google showcased the Project Starline, which it has been working on for years. Using a mixed research in computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio and real-time compression, the tech giant is working on a technology that would make it feel like the person you are talking to is sitting in front of you, three-dimensional and everything.

Describing what the technology will do, Google said, “Imagine looking through a sort of magic window, and through that window, you see another person, life-size and in three dimensions. You can talk naturally, gesture and make eye contact.”

However, it is not clear as to when users would be able to take advantage of this technology after all, because this is currently limited to a few of the offices in Google, “and it relies on custom-built hardware and highly specialized equipment.”

But is that all?

Well, the conference had been cancelled last year, so by no means was Google not going to make this one a big event. Google came prepared with the features it wanted to highlight, and these are by no means the end of what it shared.

Among other features that Google announced was a feature in Google Photos that would let users save images in a password protected folder on the phone. Moreover, these photos will also not appear when the user is scrolling through their images in the app.

Not just that but the tech giant is making it easier to change saved passwords. With this feature, the stored password for a website could be changed right from inside the password manager in Chrome, Google said.

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