Google IO 2021

Top takeouts from Google I/O 2021

If you haven’t been able to tune in on March 18 to Google I/O 2021, we’ve got you covered. Here are the top 10 takeouts from Google’s developer conference (in no particular order):

4 New Google Photos features:

Google Photos has been one of those products from the company which have seamlessly integrated with our lives, allowing us to never have to worry about storage when immortalizing memories from our everyday lives. In classic Google fashion, the company has kept on building new and innovative features on top of the cloud media storage service such as AI driven editing features, memory spotlights to relive our old photos and features that make sharing our uploaded memories easier and simpler. 

Google’s newest additions to the feature list are what they call “Little Patterns”, the ability to remove memories from a certain hurtful phase of your life and a “Locked Folder” to keep sensitive photos such as photos of credit cards and passports or anything else. They are also bringing an update to the “Cinematic Moments” feature (which was introduced in 2020) which can bind two related photos and render a smooth transition between the two photos making it look more “lively”.

Android 12 facelift:

Google announced a complete overhaul of the UI of Android 12. They’re calling it the new design language “Material You”. As is suggested by the name, the design gives control to the users on how they want android to look, on a scale that is simply unprecedented. 

Users can control things like animation speeds, color palette, border and thickness more easily on Android 12 (previously buried deep in the OS). By the looks of things, Google is banking on this to be the biggest point of difference against iOS, where the users have to mold to the strictly controlled UI of the operating system. The UI is also adaptive to every screen size and device type that runs Android.

A more comprehensive list of new features that will be introduced in Android 12 can be found in Google’s blog post here. The beta for Android 12 is out on select devices from OEMs like OnePlus, Xiaomi, realme etc. The complete list can be found here.

Tizen x WearOS:

In the recent past, the limitations of WearOS has given Samsung’s smartwatches running Tizen a clear edge when it comes to wearables. Tizen being a lightweight yet capable OS made it perfect for small devices such as smartwatches and fitness bands which operate on limited battery and processing resources. It would appear that Google executives also share the same view as they’ve announced that WearOS and Tizen are joining forces with a unified appstore for both OS.

Google also announced that Fitbit (the industry leading fitness wearable company that Google bought early this year) will be joining the Google Wear line of products with even more focus on health and fitness. This renewed focus by Google on wearables might just be what was missing from the industry and give it the much needed push.

Google Maps gets better

Maps now introduces Live View, where you can point your phone’s camera at any business and it will show related information on your screen beside the businesses. It will highlight street signs and help you navigate and discover new cities more conveniently. Some features of the Live View map will also work indoors in places that are easy to get lost in, such as the airport or large malls.

Google Maps also gets a more intelligent search which shows information on the map based on contextual information such as time of day. It can also now understand when to show how busy a certain area is.

Among other things, Google I/O focused heavily on the new security features that Google has built into its ecosystem of applications that automatically enables the security features by defaults instead of users having to opt-in. 

Google also was seen admitting that their AI (like every other AI out there) discriminates against people of color especially in their Camera app. This has been time and time again in the history of photography where cameras have not been designed in a way that enables them to capture people of color in a natural way. To mitigate this issue Google is consulting with industry experts to fix these issues to make their camera AI more equitable.

Google also showcased a project 5 years in the making called Project Starline which bring ultra realistic video calling technology; perhaps the closest thing to hologram phone calls we have till now.

Overall, there were tonnes of new and exciting announcements at the conference. The future of Google is ingrained with AI and ML, and it certainly showed in the keynote. You can get a full indepth look at all the announcements here at Google’s event page for I/O 

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