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Everything Announced at Google I/O 2021

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Google I/O is usually a developer heavy event with talk about coding and data, but if you’re looking for the biggest platform updates and new features you’ve come to the right place. We’ve stripped out all really existential talk about Pluto and paper airplanes and the odd Michael Peña cameo to give you only the biggest announcement’s from Google’s developer conference.

Android 12

Android 12 is shaking things up with the biggest UI redesign in years called Material You. The new design adds color to buttons, elements, and even your home screen background. Android 12 essentially sets a custom palette of one dominant color and multiple complementary ones based on your wallpaper, changing the overall mood of your entire smartphone.

Meanwhile, buttons and other elements on your screen will be larger and rounded than previously. The pull-down Quick Settings, for example, is displayed as two columns of large buttons for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Flashlight, and other settings that were previously just a little icon.

Aside from the new UI, Android 12 brings plenty of new features including a privacy dashboard, a new way to trigger Google Assistant, and more. Be sure to check out our article on Android 12 for more or download the Android 12 beta that’s available starting today onto your Google Pixel device.

Wear OS x Tizen

Most smartwatches (that aren’t Apple Watches) come running either Wear OS or Tizen and now Google is combining the two. Essentially, this merger allows Galaxy Watches to load Google Maps, Google Pay, and all the apps from the Google Play Store. Supposedly, Wear OS mingling with Tizen will also improve battery life too. It should be interesting to see the next Samsung Galaxy Watch running the new Tizen Wear OS hybrid.

Additionally, Google plans on introducing Fitbit exercise tracking features into Wear OS. Google also announced its plans to design Wear OS-based devices this fall.

Android Auto remote

Google is adding digital car key support for Android. While the search company didn’t say exactly what companies it’s working with, it showed a splash page of brands including Dodge, BMW, Chevrolet, Honda, Buick, Ford, Audi, Jeep, Chrysler, Cadillac, Volkswagen, and Renault. Android car key is designed to work with NFC and Ultra Wideband, and you’ll even be able to share it with a friend. It launches on Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy devices later this fall.

The ability to use your Android device as an Android TV remote will also come soon.

Google Photos

Apple has had short-movie like Live Photos for a while now and Android users are finally getting the feature with Cinematic photos. Essentially this feature takes any burst shots you’ve captured, fills in any large transitional gaps, and animates them into short clips.

Google is also working on making updates to its camera and photometry software to capture skin tones more accurately in images.

Private Google Photos folders

Google Photos is getting a new feature called Locked Folder that lets you hide pictures on your general camera roll and stops apps from seeing them. If you want to hide that new puppy from your kids or stop your date from seeing any revealing photos, you can throw them all into a password-protected locked folder to stop them from showing up in your main photo feed.

More detailed Google Maps

Google Maps is pretty great as it is already but now Google is making them more detailed with added sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian paths. It’s all thanks to machine learning translating satellite imagery into detailed Google Maps. Google says detailed maps for 50 cities will launch by the end of the year.

On top of better, more detailed maps, Google Maps will soon add more routing options for drivers. Instead of just giving users the fastest possible driving route, a new “safer routing” option will factor in road conditions, weather, and traffic to give you a path with fewer sudden stops to help you avoid getting into an accident. Meanwhile, another Eco-Friendly Route option picks roads and a route that’s most fuel-efficient for your vehicle.

Project Starline

Google’s latest crack at video calling after Hangouts, Meets, and Duo. Project Starline is at least introducing something innovative by essentially creating holograms using high-resolution cameras and cutting-edge compression to create 3D models. Meanwhile, users sit and talk to the other person through a half window that displays the other person with such fidelity that they look like they’re actually there. It’s all pretty impressive.
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Kevin Lee is IGN’s SEO Updates Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam

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