Google I / O 2021 started this Tuesday (18), with the presentation of several new features in software and privacy features. Among the highlights are the long-awaited Android 12 Beta, the Wear OS redesigned in partnership with Samsung and LaMDA, a technology that allows for more natural conversations between humans and machines. See below what was revealed at the Google conference.
Android 12 Beta with Material You
The most anticipated announcement of the day was the Android 12 Beta, and this was one of the last topics covered during this Tuesday’s conference. Many news about the next version of the system had already leaked on the web, but what really caught the attention was Material You, which according to Google, will provide the “biggest design change in the history” of Android.
With the new interface, Android 12 promises to deliver a unique style for each personality. For this, the system will be able to recognize the color palette corresponding to your wallpaper and apply it to the entire system, making everything visually more interesting and harmonious.
Google also wants the new layout to be more accessible, and is bringing bigger, faster controls, with the possibility of customization. There are even more features for widgets, including checkboxes and radio buttons. You can see more details in our full article on Android 12 Beta.
And since we’re talking about Android, it’s worth remembering that Google has new plans for smartphones: allowing them to be used as car keys using UWB (ultra wideband) technology.
The feature will initially work with some Pixel phones (probably the Pixel 6, since no model released so far has UWB support) and also some Samsung Galaxy models. The first partner company in the automotive sector is BMW.
Google and Samsung present new Wear OS
Still talking about operating systems, Google made official the partnership with Samsung for the remodeling of Wear OS, platform for smartwatches and other wearable devices. With the novelty, companies promise to unify the old Wear and Tizen, also including health and wellness resources from Fitbit, recently purchased by Google.
The new Wear OS is up to 30% faster and also consumes less battery, due to optimizations in internal layers. The platform also promises to facilitate the development of new applications and features – some Google apps, such as the Assistant and Maps, are being redesigned for the system.
Incidentally, the Google map app will also gain new features soon, including routes with fewer areas with sudden brakes and an augmented reality mode, with more details to help pedestrians.
The app will also start to adapt the view according to the times of the day – for example: if you open Maps in the morning, you will be able to see in greater prominence the recommendations of bakeries and options of cafes nearby, while at night there will be emphasis for the dining options for dinner.
Privacy in focus
Google is strengthening its privacy features, and several tools to this end were announced during Google I / O 2021. Soon, users will be able to have greater control over their search history, with the ability to quickly erase recent searches with just a touch.
Google Photos will also be provided with privacy news, with the right to a secure folder, which can protect images with a password or biometrics. In addition, the password manager has gained greater integration between Chrome, Android and iOS, to prevent users from compromising the security of their data with weak passwords.
In order to meet the demands of remote work, Google Workspace is becoming more collaborative with Smart Canvas, which aims to make tools like Docs even more flexible.
Among the novelties presented, there is the possibility of mentioning not only users, but also files and meetings through the “@”, directly from the text box. Another feature will allow you to import meeting notes from a Google Calendar invitation.
In addition, Google Meet will allow the transmission of slides, spreadsheets or texts in videoconferences directly from Slides, Documents or Spreadsheets, over the web.
Health and Artificial Intelligence
Google is also eyeing the medical field, and has announced some projects in the field of health and artificial intelligence. One of them consists of a dermatological assistance tool that helps the user to understand skin problems.
The web-based application (which has not yet been released) will allow you to identify specific health conditions using your smartphone’s camera, and features some of the same techniques that detect diabetic eye diseases and lung cancer on CT scans. Google plans to launch the pilot later this year.
The company is also working on an AI-based tool for the diagnosis of tuberculosis. The plan is to expand its efforts through studies with partners in India and Zambia in the coming months.
LaMDA, Starline Project and the future
While some of the novelties presented at I / O 2021 are thought of now, others have long-term goals, such as LaMDA (short for Language Model for Dialogue Applications). The technology, still in its initial phase, will allow the user to chat with an assistant or virtual attendant in a natural way, as if it were a chat with a real person.
To improve the machines’ ability to identify contexts, Google conducted training based on dialogues. The project is based on Transformer, a neural network architecture presented in 2017. It is hoped that assistants and other software can use the principles of common sense, specificity, interest and factuality to maintain interesting and relevant conversations with humans in the future.
And speaking of the future, we closed this compilation on Google I / O 2021 with the Starline project, which wants to create a kind of window to another dimension (in this case, a virtual dimension that seems very real), to allow friends, families and co-workers feel together, even when they are physically apart.
To make the experience as realistic as possible, Google is researching in the field of computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio and real-time compression. The company claims to have developed a light field display system to create the feeling of volume and depth that you would have when talking to a person in person, all without the need for AR or VR glasses.
For now, the Starline project is being tested in some Google offices, and has customized hardware and highly specialized equipment. The idea is that over time the technology will become more accessible. Google promises to share more information on the subject in late 2021.