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Google I/O 2021 Highlights: Android 12 gets ‘Material You’ design revamp, beta now live

Google I/O 2021 Event Highlights: Google I/O keynote saw announcements focused on the company's core products such as Search, Android 12, Wear OS for wearables, etc. Read on for updates.

By: Tech Desk | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 19, 2021 8:27:39 am
Google, Google I/O, Google I/O 2021Google I/O 2021 Keynote (Image Source: Google)

Google I/O, the company’s annual developer is back this year, after taking a hiatus in 2020. Given the ongoing pandemic I/O is taking place digitally as well. Google will be streaming all other sessions as well. The three day conference will take from May 18 to May 20.

The event is also being streamed on the company’s YouTube channel. So far, Google has focused on new features focused around its key products which are Search, Maps, Photos, Google Lens, etc. We’re also getting a look at the new design for Android 12. It’s called ‘Material You’ and brings a major design change from redesigned widgets to apps. It will be coming to Pixel phones first, and later on to other Google products. Google also revealed that there are now 3 billion Android devices in the world.

The beta for Android 12 will be available from today for Pixel, OnePlus and Xiaomi devices, according to Google. Wear OS will be teaming up with Samsung’s Tizen it seems to create a new platform: Wear. The next Galaxy Watch will be powered by this upcoming platform, which will have a lot of new features and the ability to run Google apps.

Live Blog

Google I/O 2021 Even: Android 12, Wear platform, updates to search and more

00:22 (IST)19 May 2021
Google's Project Starline

Sundar Pichai is back. He's talking about Project Starline, which is a holographic video conferencing system. "You can talk naturally, gesture, and make eye contact," Pichai says. The company has tested this in its offices so far, but remember this is still a work in progress. 

00:08 (IST)19 May 2021
WearOS will combine Fitbit's fitness capabilities

WearOS will combine some of Fitbit's fitness features as well. The features will come later this fall. 

00:04 (IST)19 May 2021
Next Galaxy Watch will support Google features

Next Galaxy Watch will run the Google Play Store, support other Google features such as Maps. 

00:02 (IST)19 May 2021
Wear OS with Samsung

Google is talking about Wear OS, which it has helped build with Samsung.  The new partnership will see Google combined Wear OS and Tizen focusing on longer battery life, faster performance, and focus on developers. 

23:59 (IST)18 May 2021
Android 12 connectivity with ChromeOS

It looks like users will be able to unlock their Chromebook with their Android phone. They will also get notifications from their phone on the ChromeBook. Google is also building a dedicated TV app which will work with Android TVs. Further, Android Auto wireless will be supported by nearly 100 million cars. 

23:55 (IST)18 May 2021
Android 12: Privacy

Android 12 gets a new Privacy dashboard as was leaked. It will show what data was access and when. A user can revoke permission directly from the dashboard. Two new options in quick settings can disable camera and microphone access for all apps in just one tap.  

23:52 (IST)18 May 2021
Android 12: Total redesign

Android 12 is getting a complete revamp. The system will create a custom palette based on the colours being used in the wallpaper photo. A one of a kind design, just for you. It will come to Google Pixel phones first, later this fall. Everything gets a total revamp, be it the clock the notifications shade or the quick settings, which now includes Google Pay.  Users can now invoke the Google Assistant by long pressing the power button. 

23:48 (IST)18 May 2021
Revamped design for Android 12 and other products

We're geting a look at the redesigned Android 12 right now during the livestream. 'Material You' will be coming to Google Pixel first this fall. Google will be bringing 'Material You' to all other products as well later this year. Android 12 will get redesigned widgets. Google is calling this their most personal OS ever. 

23:39 (IST)18 May 2021
Google Photos

It looks like there are more than 4 trillion photos and videos stored on Google Photos. In fact, Google says most of the photos on the service are never viewed. Well soon, we will all have to pay for storing our photos.

Google will now use AI to resurface some of these memories. 'Little Patterns' is a new way to look back at some old photos. Google will rely on Machine Learning to show you these photos. It will look for patterns in photos to match pictures with similar shapes and colours and then show these to the user as a memory. Thankfully Google will also let users remove a photo from memories as well in case it is triggering. 

23:35 (IST)18 May 2021
Google Android Private Compute Core

Google is adding a Private Compute Core to Android, which keeps user information safe and private for some AI-driven features like Live Caption (which displays captions based on audio), Now Playing (which tells users the song that’s playing) and Smart Reply (which suggests short responses to messages and emails). For these features, the audio and language processing happens exclusively on the user's device, according to Google. This is also fully open source. 

23:29 (IST)18 May 2021
Google Maps

Google Maps will show the Live View instantly from the app. Google is adding more prominent virtual signs, and it is also bringing Live View inside as well. Live View is not yet available in India. Google is also adding more details to Street Maps. It plans to do so to 50 new cities by the end of the year.  

23:25 (IST)18 May 2021
Google Search: About this Result

Google is adding more context to search results. 'About this Result' will showcase details about a site when you find it appearing in your search results. The idea is to ensure users get accurate information from quality and trusted sources. 

23:22 (IST)18 May 2021
Google AR Search

Google Search is adding some new features to the AR bit. Remember those 3D animals you could view on Google Search? Well, Google is taking it one step further. You will now be able to view athletes in augmented reality mode on Search. Gymnast Simon Biles is one of the those who will be visible in this AR mode. 

23:20 (IST)18 May 2021
Google Lens gets new feature

Google Lens is getting support for more languages. A student can take a picture of a science problem and get the answer in their preferred language. 

23:18 (IST)18 May 2021
Google I/O 2021: MUM, a new model for search

MUM is Google's new Multitask Unified Model for search, which is a lot more powerful than the earlier BERT. It can acquire 'deep knowledge', understand language, video and images when you place a search query. It can also translate across multiple languages to give a richer answer. For example, a user can just show an image of their hiking boots and ask whether it can be used to hike across a certain mountain. MUM would know the answer based on the image and your query. 

23:13 (IST)18 May 2021
Google I/O 2021: New privacy controls

Google will now make it easier to delete recent search history. Google will also reminds users that they have location history turned on. Further, there will be a new locked folder in Photos, and photos inside these won't show up on any other device.   

23:09 (IST)18 May 2021
Google I/O 2021: Privacy and Google

Jen Fitzpatrick, Senior VP for Core Systems & Experiences at Google, is on stage, talking about privacy and Google. She's talking about how Google wants to free all users from password pain. The password manager is getting some new features. One it will support imports from other password managers, two there will be deeper integration between Chrome and Android so password sharing is easier, further, Google will have automatic password alerts for compromised ones. Finally, for compromised passwords in Chrome, users will have an easier way to fix this problem. 

23:01 (IST)18 May 2021
Google I/O: TPU version 4, quantum computing

Pichai is about the company's TPU v4 which power its TensorFlow. The TPU v4 are deployed in Pods, each Pod has around 4096 of these TPU v4. These will be made available to Google's Cloud customers later this year. These pods can achieve Exoflops (1018 floating point operations per second )

He's also talking about Quantum Computing and how Google wants to build an error-protected quantum computer. Google also has a new data centre focused on Quantum Computing called Quantum AI Campus.

22:56 (IST)18 May 2021
Google I/O 2021: LaMDA is not perfect though

Pichai admits LaMDA is not yet perfect. He says they want to ensure that it meets Google's standards on fairness, privacy and accuracy. It is not clear whether LaMDA will be incorporated into existing Google products such as The Assistant. Also LaMDA is limited because it is trained only on text, not images, videos, etc. It is not yet a multimodal model.  

22:52 (IST)18 May 2021
Google I/O 2021: Natural language processing

Pichai is back on stage. He's talking about Google Translate. He says usage for Google's interpreter mode has seen usage grow by 4X. He's also talking about Image Recognition and how Google Lens is used more than 3 billion times per month. 'We can be as helpful with text as with images," Pichai said.

Pichai is explaining how the company's translation tools have evolved over time, with the help of machine learning, and improvements around natural language processing.  'LaMDA' is the company's new model in natural language processing and while it is still in research, Google is pitching this as a more advanced version. The new model is much more natural and can generate an open-ended conversation.

Google is showing what it would be like if someone were to talk to Pluto or a paper airplane, though in this case, the voice and conversation for both of these is powered by LaMDA. 

Google is hosting its annual developer conference I/O 2021 this week. Last year's I/O was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year, I/O is back in a virtual form. The keynote is taking place later tonight and the major highlight will be Android 12, which is expected to get a design overall, according to a new video by Front Page Tech.

Android 12 will also likely focus more on privacy, making controls simpler and easier to understand for users. The focus on privacy is something that Google has been trying to highlight for the past few years, though it faces a lot of flak on the issue. Google had earlier announced it plans to add privacy labels to apps, similar to how Apple is already doing on iOS 14.5 and above.

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