Highlights from Google I/O 2021

Google I/O 2021 logo
Written by Melker Wångdahl

Google’s yearly developer conference took place between May 18th and May 20th. As always there were a lot of exciting new features and updates. Here’s some of the highlights from Google I/O 2021

The name I/O stands for two things, Input/Output and Innovation in the Open which is the slogan of the event. That innovation was on display right away with the pre-show musical performance. A collaboration between a band and Google’s musical AI Blob Opera. Pretty cool start to Google I/O 2021.

Android 12 open beta announced on Google I/O 2021

One of the more anticipated google releases of 2021 is now available for the public to download and beta test. If you have one of the devices listed here you can take the new features, like the one-handed mode, for a spin. Keep in mind however that the version still contains a lot of bugs.

Android 12 will bring a whole new design language called Material You and while the details are mostly geared towards developers it will offer a lot of new exciting customization options. Among other things, your phone will be able to adapt its entire color scheme to your background image.

For the ones among us with a talent for misplacing stuff Google I/O had some good news as well. Android 12 will make it possible for some devices to unlock your car for you. No more forgetting or misplacing the keys. The signal to unlock is sent by NFC, the same system that is used for card payments by phone.

Smart Canvas platform

Inspired by the work from home trend the Canvas platform will make for a smoother experience when using several Google apps like Docs and Sheets. If several people in your team are working on the same presentation or sheet you will be able to have your Google Meet in the Sheets app. Basically, you get the video conversation integrated on the right side of the workspace.

New search functions being teased

The highlight among the search functions discussed at Google I/O 2021 was clearly the new photo search. You will be able to take a photo of an object and ask a question about that photo. The example used was a photo of a pair of boots where Google was asked if they could be used to hike mount Fuji.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to search updates tho, AI will bring significant improvements to all aspects of it.

Other quick highlights from Google I/O 2021

Here’s a quick rundown of the best of the rest from Google I/O 2021.

  • Google and Samsung has combined their software for wearables to increase speed and battery time.
  • Google is working on AI that will identify skin conditions, simply film it with your camera and get a response within seconds.
  • According to Google the majority of the pictures in the Google photos App are never viewed. With a new AI they will be able to present photos in a new way, including turning a series of pictures into a movie.
  • Google pictures will also be able to identify and delete all the pictures of a certain person.
  • Google shopping will be able to find items in shops based on a picture.
  • Chrome will have an option to show all the shopping carts you have abandoned.
  • Google maps is getting AR! If you point your camera at a restaurant it will show you the reviews on the screen.
  • Search results in google maps will change based on the time of day. Early mornings will give you bigger pins on coffee shops.
  • Password tools are getting better. Chrome will now let you know when a password is suspected to have been compromised and recommend a change.
  • More privacy tools are coming to several apps.
  • Google’s LaMDA project will let you have natural text conversations with objects. Like a shoe or a skateboard. Yes you read that right.

These are just some of the features discussed at Google I/O 2021, the future of Google and the Android ecosystem is no doubt going to be exciting.