This is not the first time Google scheduled its annual developer conference on the same days as Microsoft. While Microsoft prepared for the Day 2 of Build, Google took the stage to announce their plans for this year and the things they’re working on. If you couldn’t watch the conference live, then here’s a round-up of everything Google announced at I/O today.
Cheaper Pixel devices
At Google I/O, the company finally announced the highly-anticipated Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL. Google didn’t receive the response it was looking for, from the Pixel brand so the new budget-oriented devices might help the company to capture some market share. Both the Pixel 3A and 3A XL are powered by Snapdragon 670 and come with storage options up to 64 GB. The Pixel 3A comes with a 5.6-inch Full HD+ OLED display while 3A XL comes with a 6-inch Full HD+ OLED display and has 4 GB of RAM.
The major attraction of the devices is the Pixel camera which comes with the Night Sight mode and Portrait features. The Google Pixel 3A comes with a 3,000 mAh battery while the Pixel 3A XL comes with a 3,700 mAh battery. In terms of design, Google has gone for a simple device with a polycarbonate back and no wireless charging. Both the devices also miss out on IP ratings but do come with a 3.5mm headphone jack. Google is also promising 3 years of OS and security updates for both phones.
Google Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL will be available with T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon, and is available for purchase right now. Both the devices will be available in black, white, and purple. The Google Pixel 3A is priced at $399 and you will have to shell out $479 for the Pixel 3A XL.
As expected, Google gave a sneak peek at the upcoming Android Q. Not only that Google also expanded the Android Q beta program to non-Pixel devices and included the first generation Pixel devices and the new Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL to the list. The supported Android devices are- Xiaomi Mi 9, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, Asus Zenfone 5z, Essential Phone, Nokia 8.1, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, LG G8 ThinQ, OnePlus 6T, Oppo Reno, Realme 3 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ3, Tecno Spark 3 Pro, Vivo X27, NEX S, and NEX A.
Google also showcased some of the features that are coming to Android Q later this year. The feature list includes a system-wide Dark Theme, improved navigation gestures, support for 5G and foldable displays, Live Captions, Smart Reply, improvements to Focus Mode and Family Link. If you want to try the new Android Q Beta 3 then you can enrol your supported device here.
Google has also announced the new Nest Max Hub which is the latest device to join the Nest home automation device lineup. The latest device from Google comes with a 6.5-megapixel video camera on the top to take Duo calls with a 127-degree wide-angle camera being able to track you around the room, facial recognition so the Hub can offer you personalized information, Gesture recognition for controlling video and more. It can also work as a security camera and can be paired with CCTV to watch your front door and can allow you to monitor your home from your Android phone. In addition, the 10-inch HD screen is optimised for showing photos, with a matte display with automatic colour temperature adjustment. It also features two 10W tweeters and one 30W woofer for good but not great quality audio.
The Google Nest Hub Max will be available in Charcoal and Grey (both with a white photo frame) and will retail for $229 this summer.
Google announced Duplex last year and has been making improvements to it since then. The latest addition will now allow users to book an entire holiday using the service. The software will check your availability and with a very convincing “human voice”, make your bookings for you. It does this by checking your calendar and Gmail account. This will certainly make life a little easier for those of us who dread making phone calls or can’t communicate via voice.
If you’re going on holiday, Duplex for the web can even research dates and times for flights for you. After checking your availability, Duplex can open the National Car Rental website in Google Chrome, and assist you in the process of booking a car. The software will then book your favourite car with your preferred payment method, using your previous history as a reference.
Google always had problems with delivering Android updates to users since there are too many devices from various companies. To fix this issue, Google, today announced Project Mainline. Starting with Android Q, Google will be distributing security updates directly via the Google Play Store. The service will address 12 different modules of the operating system in a component-type way, allowing Google to only patch media components for example if there is a vulnerability discovered. Android has been componentized since the 2017 Android Oreo, and the effort should start paying off with Android Q.
This will not address all update issues, unfortunately, with full version updates still needing to pass through OEMs for customization and validation.
Google Lens is getting an AR-related feature update which should make searching the real world as easy as searching the web. Google, today, showed off such features as being able to translate text on a sign, and then having the translated text persistently stick over the sign when viewed on the phone again. Other examples are translating a menu using Google Lens, and then having Google highlight the most commonly ordered items. Google is hoping to make these features available widely, supporting 12 languages and phones which cost only $35. The features should start rolling out “later this month” to both iOS and Android.
These were some of the major announcements at Google I/O. The company is expected to continue with the same tomorrow however, it will be more developer oriented moving forward.