Google launched its annual I/O Developer Conference on Wednesday. As usual, the company took the opportunity to announce a bunch of new hardware products and software updates.
While the shiny new gadgets may have stolen the show – you can read more about the Pixel Watch, new Pixel phones and other things that were announced in our separate article – I/O is still mostly a deal breaker. of software. To that end, Google used its keynote to detail a dizzying array of new features for Android, Search, Maps, and Google’s voice assistant services.
Here are the biggest updates announced by Google.
We got some more details about the next version of Android, Google’s operating system for mobile devices. When Android 13 arrives this fall, it will introduce updates that will make the operating system more secure and more interoperable with other devices around you. Google Messaging will expand support for the RCS SMS standard, bringing end-to-end encryption to group SMS. Multilingual users will be able to configure specific apps to use specific languages, so you can search in English and tweet in German. Support for quick pairing with devices using the Matter smart home standard will be built in, and it will be easier to stream videos or photos to more TVs, monitors and other screens in your home with additional support for more manufacturers’ products.
We’ll take a closer look at Android 13 as it gets closer to arriving later this year.
Google has found its wallet
The company has relaunched its previously discontinued Google Wallet name and brand, and the refreshed app will become Android’s default digital currency container. The wallet will hang out on your device and hold all your credit cards, transit cards, vaccine checks, and even your Disney World park pass. If you’re thinking, “Wait, that sounds exactly like Google Pay, something that already exists,” you’re right. Wallet is basically the same as Google Pay, except Google says its Wallet app will soon also support digital IDs, including driver’s licenses. Google has a habit of frequently killing its own services, so we’ll see how long these two options stick around.
New security features
Google also introduced a variety of new additions to its software platforms aimed at protecting against cyberattacks. It improves its two-factor authentication system and enables it by default on Google accounts. Phishing protections are transferred from Gmail to Google’s office suite (Docs, Sheets and Slides). It will also indicate when account settings can be changed to better protect privacy.
A new feature called Virtual Cards aims to keep your credit card information private while you shop. When you autofill credit card information, Virtual Cards generates a random card number and saves you from having to manually enter sensitive information on a potentially suspicious storefront.
Read Lily Newman’s WIRED story on all of Google’s new security features.
Welcome to Multisearch
Last month, Google rolled out a feature called Multisearch. It lets you combine items in a single search query, like using a photo and text at the same time. Soon Multisearch will receive a new tweak. Called Near Me, the feature lets you consider your location when multi-searching, helping to detect local restaurants or shops based on photos and text. Multisearch Near Me will be available worldwide later this year, although it only works with English input for now.
An upcoming feature in Google Maps is something Google calls Immersive View. It’s a kind of tricked-out Street View that lets you swipe to move around in CGI-rendered 3D space. It can simulate entire cities, and even the interiors of offices and restaurants. You won’t see a 100% accurate render, as much of it is based on user photos and then filled in with an algorithm. Google says the feature will work on any smartphone and will roll out to “select cities” this year.
Google has taken steps to make its voice assistant understand more conversational nuances and respond accordingly. A new feature called Look and Talk, available exclusively on the Nest Hub Max, aims to make talking with a voice assistant less like shouting on a concrete slab. You won’t have to say “OK Google” anymore, because the system is designed to recognize when you ask it a question. To do this, the Nest Hub Max uses its built-in camera to monitor how far you are from the device, where your head is facing and where your gaze is pointing. So it can detect if you look at the device and wait for a response.
The assistant also allows for pauses in a query, in case you need a second to collect your thoughts. Just like talking with a person! The company hasn’t said whether Google Assistant will ever be able to like.