I / O this year The Google event was heavy on “we’re building something cool” and light on “here’s something you can use or buy tomorrow.” But there were also some interesting surprises from the semi-live event held in and around the company’s Mountain View campus. Read on for all the cool stuff.
Android 12 has a new look and quality of life features
We knew Android 12 had been on the way for months, but today was our first real look at the next big change for the world’s most popular operating system. A new look, called Material You (yes), focuses on users, apps, and things like time of day or weather to change UI colors and other aspects dynamically. Some security features such as new camera and microphone usage metrics are coming, as well as some ‘private computing kernel’ features that use AI processes on your phone to personalize responses and notifications. . There is a beta today for adventurers!
Wow, Android is now powering 3 billion devices
Subhed says it all (but find out more here). Instead of 2 billion in 2017.
Smart Canvas combines Docs, productivity and video calling
Millions of people and businesses use Google’s suite of productivity and collaboration tools, but the company felt it would be better if they weren’t so isolated. Now, with Smart Canvas, you can make a video call while you work together on a shared document and import information and content from your Drive and elsewhere. It sounds complicated, but potentially practical.
AI conversations get more conversational with LaMDA
It’s a little too easy to trick the AIs if you walk out of the script, asking for something in a way that feels normal to you, but that is totally incomprehensible to the language model. Google’s LaMDA is a new natural language processing technique that makes conversations with AI models more resistant to unusual or unexpected queries, making them more of a real person and less of a voice interface for a search function. They demonstrated this by showing conversations with anthropomorphized versions of Pluto and a paper airplane. And yes, it was exactly as strange as it sounds.
Google built a futuristic 3D video call booth
One of the most surprising things about the keynote had to be Project Starline, a high-tech 3D video call setup that uses previous Google searches and Lytro’s DNA to show realistic 3D avatars of people on both sides. of the system. It’s still experimental but looks very promising.
Wear OS gets a redesign and lots of health-focused apps
Not many people want to watch a movie on their smartwatch, but a lot of people like to use it to track their steps, meditation, and other health related practices. Wear OS gets a bunch of Fitbit DNA, with built-in health tracking elements and plenty of third-party apps like Calm and Flo.
Samsung and Google announce unified smartwatch platform
These two mobile giants have been quick friends in the phone world for years, but when it comes to wearable devices, they have remained rivals. In the face of Apple’s total dominance in the smartwatch arena, however, the two put aside their differences and announced that they would work on a “unified platform” so developers can build apps that work on the go. both on Tizen and Wear OS.
And they also work together on the foldables
Apparently, Google and Samsung have realized that no one would buy foldable devices unless they do some really cool stuff, and collaboration is the best way to go. Thus, the two companies will also work together to improve the interaction of folding screens with Android.
Android TV reaches 80 million devices, adds phone remote control
The smart TV space is competitive, and after a few starts Google really did it with Android TV, which the company said had reached 80 million monthly active devices – putting it, Roku and Amazon ( the last two with around 50 million monthly assets accounts) all in the same league. The company also showcased a powerful new phone-based remote app that (among other things) will make entering passwords much better than using the d-pad on the clicker. Developers will be happy to hear that there is a new Google TV emulator and that Firebase Test Lab will support Android TV.
Your Android phone is now (also) your car key
Well, assuming you have a really new Android device with a UWB chip. Google is working first with BMW, and soon with other automakers, to create a new method of unlocking the car when you approach it or to exchange basic commands without using a remote or Bluetooth. Why not Bluetooth you ask yourself? Well, Bluetooth is old. UWB is new.
Vertex brings together machine learning development tools in one place
Google and its sister companies are both leaders in AI research and popular platforms for others to do their own AI work. But its machine learning development tools have been a bit scattered – useful but disconnected. Vertex is a new development platform for enterprise artificial intelligence that brings many of these tools together in one place and integrates tightly with optional services and standards.
There is a new generation of custom AI chips from Google
Google does a lot of things when it comes to machine learning. Like, A LOT a lot. So they are constantly working to create better and more efficient computer hardware to handle the massive processing load that these AI systems create. TPUv4 is the latest, twice as fast as the old ones, and will soon be packaged in 4096-person pods. Why 4,096 and not even 4,000? The same reason why any other number exists in computer science: powers of 2.
And they’re fueling new Photos features, including one that’s horrible.
Google Photos is a great service, and the company is trying to take advantage of the huge library of photos most people have to find to find designs like “selfies with family on the couch” and “traveling with my hat on. lucky charm “to dive back into the archives. Awesome! But they also take two photos taken a second apart and an AI hallucinates what separates them, which leads to a really weird form of movement that shoots deep, deep into the weird valley, from where hopefully , it will never come out.
Forgot your password? Googlebot to the rescue
Google’s “AI book a hairdresser appointment” Duplex service hasn’t really set the world on fire, but the company has found a new way to apply it. If you forget your password, Duplex will automatically fill in your old password, choose a new one, and let you copy it before submitting it to the site, all while interacting with the site’s normal reset interface. This will only work on Twitter and a handful of other sites through Chrome at the moment, but hey, if it happens to you a lot, it might get you out of trouble.
Enter the buying graph
Older people among our readers may remember Froogle, Google’s ill-fated shopping interface. Well, it’s back… sort of. The plan is to include a lot of product information, from price to star rating, availability, and other information, right into the Google interface when you’re looking for something. It sucks this information from retail sites, including if you have something in your shopping cart. It’s hard to imagine how all of this benefits someone more than Google, but naturally they are positioning them as a winner all around. Especially for the new Shopify partner. (Me, I use DuckDuckGo.)
Flutter Cross-Platform SDK Receives Update
Many developers have adopted Google’s Flutter cross-platform UI toolkit. The latest version, announced today, adds security settings, performance improvements, and workflow updates. There are also many more to come.
Firebase is also getting an update
The popular Firebase development platform also has many new and updated features. Remote Config gets a nice update allowing developers to tailor the app experience to suit individual user types, and App Check provides a basic level of security against external threats. There’s a lot to chew on here for the developers.
The next version of Android Studio is Arctic Fox
The beta version of the next version of Google’s Android Studio environment is coming soon, and it’s called Arctic Fox. It has a brand new UI creation toolkit called Jetpack Compose, and a series of built-in accessibility tests to help developers make their apps more accessible to people with disabilities. Connecting to devices to test on them should also be a lot easier now. Oh, and there will be a version of Android Studio for Apple Silicon.