New Delhi: In its annual keynote conference Google I/O 2021 on Tuesday at the Mountain View, the California-based giant is expected unveiled new products and software developments, including the first beta for the next version of its mobile Android OS – Android 12.

Google Maps and Google Assistant are being redesigned and improved. Google Pay will also be redesigned and add support for 26 new countries, beyond the 11 countries currently available. YouTube Music will also arrive on Wear later this year, equipped with features like smart downloads for subscribers to enjoy music while on the go. 

Here are the major highlights from the developer conference:

Andriod 12

Google announced a new version of Android, the software that powers a majority of the world’s smartphones. “Android has a new look. Inspired by Material You, we’ve rethought the entire experience for #Android12, from colors to shapes, light and motion. It’s more personal and expressive — a one-of-a-kind design, just for you,” noted the giant on its official Twitter account. Also Read: WhatsApp’s New Privacy Policy: What Changes You May Face If You Don’t Accept It Today?

Android 12 is supposed to be the biggest design overhaul in the history of OS. Android 12 will offer personalizable colour palettes, updated notifications and faster, battery-saving performance. Android 12 will arrive later this year, but the first public beta is already available. The beta is available on Google Pixel phone as well as smartphones ranging from Asus, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, TCL, Vivo, Xiaomi to ZTE.

The biggest feature of Android 12 is the Material You design that features big, bubbly buttons, shifting colours, and smoother animation.

A new privacy dashboard will show what type of data was accessed and when. A new indicator has been added that will let users know when an app using their camera or microphone.  The new UI will come with a new ‘Colour extraction’ feature that creates a custom pallet based on the wallpaper you’re using. You get a new lockscreen that supports dynamic light. The clock on the lockscreen also appears larger when you dont have any notifications. The ‘quick settings’ of the notification bar also includes Google Pay and Home controls. 

“Based on the wallpaper you choose, the system will automatically determine which colours are dominant and apply them across the entire OS: the notification shade, the lock screen, the volume controls, new widgets and much more,” the company explained in its blog.

WearOS merges with Tizen

The tech giant also unveiled a new version of WearOS. Google and Samsung have merged WearOS and Tizen. The merger of two operating systems will result in longer battery life with always-on heart rate monitoring, 30 per cent faster loading times for apps, and smoother animations. The company said developers will create apps for one single platform. Samsung confirmed that its next-gen Galaxy Watch will run on this unified platform.  Also, Fitbit devices will also run the new software.

Google Maps to help navigate complex intersections

Google Maps is going to add a new eco-friendly route option that will give you the most fuel-efficient routes. One of the interesting features in Google Maps is Safer Routing that will use machine learning to fuel-efficient routes and safer routing based on road, weather and traffic conditions. It is aimed at curbing sudden breaking/stops. According to Pichai, Google’s goal for safe routing in Google Maps is to reduce the number of vehicular accidents each year by as many as 100 million.

Google Photos

“We’re making it easier to choose the content you look back on. You can prevent photos of certain people or time periods from showing up in Memories in just a few taps. We’re also making it possible to remove a single photo from a Memory, rename it or remove it entirely,” said the company. The new ‘Little Patterns’ feature can read visual similarities between different pictures and present them as an assembled memory. Google Photos will also now sort images for memories basis of the occasion they were taken on. For example, pictures shot during Diwali will be presented as ‘Diwali’.

Google Workspaces gets Smart canvas

A new update Google Workspaces includes “Smart Canvas”. It appears to be a amalgamation of Google Sheets, Docs and Slides. Google Meet is deeply integrated, and later this year, a companion mode will be added. It will use AI for lighting, framing and focussing, and translations.

LaMDA AI platform

LaMDA, a natural language platform is currently in the R&D stage, and platform aims to offer more natural conversations, something the current-generation voice assistants struggle to understand. To showcase LaMDA’s abilities, Google showed videos of two short conversations with the model, including a conversation with LaMDA acting as the planet Pluto. “It’s amazing how sensible and interesting the conversation is. But it’s still early research, so it doesn’t get everything right,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the presentation.



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