After being cancelled last year, Google I/O is back for 2021 and the company made a couple of announcements at this year’s event.
Android 12 Beta
This year’s Android update will be called Android 12 and it brings a number of features.
The biggest change is more personalization, Google is letting users completely personalize their phone with a custom colour plate and redesign widgets.
When you set wallpaper in Android 12, a feature called colour extraction and the system will automatically determine which colours should be the primary one and others to compliment it.
All these colours will appear in the notification shade, lock screen, volume controls, widget and more. Quick Settings have also been redesign to be more intuitive and playful.
In addition to more personalization, Android 12 features more fluid motion and animations. Google has made the OS smoother by doing some under-the-hood work such as reducing the CPU time and the use of big cores by the system server.
The next Android update will also bring support for Digital Car keys, meaning you can unlock your car with your phone.
This is done using Ultra-Wideband (UWB technology) and will work on select Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones. Google is currently working with BMW to bring the feature to their vehicles.
A new Privacy Dashboard is also included in Android 12 that shows you permission settings, removes access to apps using your microphone or camera.
In addition to Android 12, Google announced some new features coming to Android in the next few months.
Fast Pair is coming to Beat Headphones, as well as vehicles from BMW and Ford. Just one tap lets you pair your phone to your headphones or accessories.
For those with an Android TV (or Google TV), you’ll soon be able to control your TV with your phone. The remote control feature should be coming later this year.
If you wanna check out the first Android 12 beta for yourself, you can enroll your Pixel phone here.
Here’s a list of phones that currently work with the Android 12 Beta:
- Pixel 3, 3 XL
- Pixel 3A, 3A XL
- Pixel 4, 4 XL
- Pixel 4A, 4A 5G
- Pixel 5
- Asus Zenfone 8
- OnePlus 9, 9 Pro
- Oppo Find X3 Pro (model CPH2173)
- TCL 20 Pro 5G
- Vivo iQOO 7
- Xiaomi Mi 11, Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 11I, Mi 11X Pro
- ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
For the next Wear OS update, Google is teaming up with Samsung to help bring “the best of Wear and Tizen into a single, unified platform.”
With their collaboration, they have made apps start up to 30% faster on the latest chipsets for an even smoother UI. They’ve also been able to achieve longer battery life by optimizing “the lower layers of the operating system.”
Since acquiring Fitbit, Google is bringing some of Fitbit’s features to Wear OS such as tracking your health progress, on-wrist goal celebrations.
Samsung has confirmed to Wired that the company won’t be releasing any more Tizen-powered smartwatches. However, their future Wear OS-powered ones (coming later this year) will still have the rotating bezel from their Galaxy Watches.
If you do own a Tizen-powered Galaxy Watch, you’ll get at least three years of software support after launch. So for the most recent, Galaxy Watch3, you’ll get support until 2023.
The new unified Wear OS is scheduled for launch later this year.
Google also showed off a new project they’re working on called Project Starline.
As Google calls it, “Imagine looking through a sort of magic window, and through that window, you see another person, life-size and in three dimensions. You can talk naturally, gesture and make eye contact.”
The project uses Google’s research from computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio and real-time compression. This combined with a light field display system that creates a 3D image that is lifelike, without needing additional glasses or headsets.
While Project Starline isn’t an actual product right now, Google says they are making progress and sharing more later this year.
Google made a couple of more announcements during their I/O 2021 keynote, which you can read about at the source link below.