Google conducted its annual I/O event, the Google I/O 2021 on May 18. The event saw a ton of new upcoming features in the Android 12 announced and teased. Several smartphones will also be eligible to download the Public Beta version of the latest OS from Google in the coming days. Google also announced few improvements in the Google Photos app. Let’s have a look at all the major announcements and the changes you should be expecting in Android 12.
Android 12 Redesign (Material You)
Android 12 receives a major design overhaul and Material You is the latest version of Google’s official design language. The update brings some substantial changes to the Android aesthetic and also allows users greater personalization along with a very fresh coat of paint for the entire operating system.
The Material Design had made its debut back in Google I/O 2014 to mimick real-world objects to create more intuitive digital experiences. But this year’s update sees completely redesigned components across the board — new shapes, new colors, new lighting, and new motion animations.
Google has also introduced Wallpaper-based theming — or “color extraction”. It brings bold color combinations to every corner of the OS. The system will automatically decide through your wallpaper which colors are dominant and complementary colors and then will apply them to Android’s screens, menus, and even first-party apps.
This revamp is certain to make the phone look very fresh and unique than ever before. Users will also have the option to configure and decide the shape of tons of objects as well. Users can also use their custom colors across the device.
There is also a substantial change in the notification shade and quick settings as well. Google Pay and Home Controls will now appear here instead of the home button power menu.
Another place where there are tons of changes in the home screen widgets. In this latest Android update, you can expect changes in clocks, new weather widgets, new shortcuts to often-used contacts, and easier access to your favorite chats.
Apart from the user interface, Google has also doubled the privacy of the users as well. In Google I/O 2021, the company also said that they have added Indicators and Toggles for the microphone and camera, updates to location permissions, and a new privacy dashboard. Google has added a separate indicator on your screen where you can see every time microphone or camera is accessed by any app. You will also have the option to provide your exact or approximate location. The updated privacy dashboard now also has information like which app has used your information and how frequently do they make use of this information.
So all in all, the redesigned Android 12 seems to be one of the biggest and largest overhauls in the User Interface aspect we have seen in a very long time. The update seems to be a very new and vibrant one as well. But only time will tell how well do the users like the same or not. With the privacy improvements, Google has made sure there are no lapses in privacy as well.
Wear OS Revamped
Wear OS is something that Google hasn’t paid much attention to in the past few years. But this changes with Android 12 as Google has announced the biggest change in the platform’s history to date. Google has announced its partnership with Samsung for merging the Wear OS with Tizen’s wearable Operating System. The single unified platform will be launched having the best of both brands.
We’re combining the best of @wearosbygoogle and @SamsungMobile Tizen into a unified wearable platform. ⌚ Apps will start faster, battery life will be longer and you'll have more choice than ever before, from devices to apps and watch faces. #GoogleIO pic.twitter.com/vj2aYZD81x
— Google (@Google) May 18, 2021
Google had always struggled with providing OS to the smartwatches. They were filled with bugs and a cause of problems for users since Day 1. None of the updates have massively impressed anyone so far. Apart from this, the reliance on lackluster Qualcomm silicon was another reason for its failure. But this partnership may change things for Google.
The company also announced in the Google I/O 2021 that they are in the works of launching powerful new fitness and wellness features. These features will be coming to the smartwatch very soon. There isn’t much information regarding the features coming to Wear OS, but YouTube Music is definitely finally coming to Wear OS.
Although there’s not much new here, Google has introduced features like locked folders while also making upgrades to photo grids, cinematic moments, and memory controls. The Locked Folder will be located in The Utilities section. It will make use of your screen lock option as a security measure.
The app also has new memory controls that allow users to hide memories with certain people, pets, or even a specific image from being surfaced as a memory in the Photos app. Google is also making use of a new Pattern Recognition AI that can easily and more accurately find and create collections of objects and scenes you’ve photographed.
Google Maps is another app that will be receiving changes. Google has added a new safe routing feature that will help you avoid particularly dangerous cycling routes or areas where pedestrians have poor access to sidewalks or are overly exposed to traffic.
The update also will provide alerts about especially crowded neighborhoods and areas, as opposed to just businesses and places of interest. Google has also made changes like detailed maps for 50 more cities to its database.
Google has also announced quite a lot of privacy upgrades in this new OS. We have already mentioned some in the ‘Android 12 Design’ section but there’s more. Google has also introduced a quick switch to delete the last 15 minutes of your search.
Google Maps will also alert users about their location history, with a quick toggle to turn off location tracking. Apart from this, Google Chrome also will alert users to change passwords on sites directly where it knows you have a compromised password.
Android Auto and Automotive
Android Auto wireless is coming to more manufacturers this year, as is Android Automotive. Google announced in the Google I/O 2021 that with this update, your Android phone can be doubled down as a car key with vehicles from select manufacturers.
Auto and Automotive will also become simpler for developers to handle, with apps between the two essentially becoming inter-compatible thanks to some changes on the back end by Google.
Workspaces have seen a very steep increase in users in the last few years and Google is further providing features to enhance the usability of the customers. In a huge upgrade and a very useful feature added by Google, it has now integrated Google Meet to Google’s suite of apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides. This will make collaborating on projects much easier.
The company is also expanding the canvas beyond the traditional page view with new pageless formatting in Docs and a timeline view for date-oriented Sheets. The company has also included AI enhancements to few tasks like assisted writing that, among other things, provides gender-neutral word replacements and assistive formula suggestions in Sheets.
Google is also attempting to convert its disparate Drive mediums — Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc into a “Smart Canvas” that will be enriched with collaboration features.
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