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The Google I/O 2021 event kicked off online today and will continue till 20 May. On Day 1 of the conference, the company made several announcements about several designs and privacy updates for Android 12, Google Maps, Google Workspace, Google Photos, and more. In addition to this, Google also announced it has partnered with Samsung to merge WearOS and Tizen. The company has further revealed that the resulting unified platform will improve battery life, 30 percent faster loading times for apps, and smoother animations.

Notably, Samsung has announced the next Galaxy Watch will run on this new platform. In addition to this, future Fitbit products will also run on the same platform, as Fitbit is now part of Google.

Google I/O 2021: Major announcements

Android 12 ‘Material You’ based system design change.

Google has announced the latest beta for Android 12 design is based on a ‘Material You’ ideology that will let users customize the UI as per their preferences. The new UI will come with a new ‘Colour extraction’ feature that creates a custom palette based on the wallpaper chosen. It further applies color to the notification shade, lock screen, volume controls, new widgets, and more.

You get a new lock screen that supports dynamic lighting. The clock on the lock screen also grows larger when there are no notifications. The ‘quick settings’ of the notification bar now also include Google Pay and Home controls.

Additionally, you can now summon Google Assistant by long-pressing the power button.

A new ‘Privacy dashboard’ will show what type of user data was accessed by which app and when. A new indicator has been added to let users know when an app uses its camera or microphone.

Google Workspace

Google has introduced a group of new tools to Google Workspace to help users plan a project. This suite of tools is named ‘Smart Canvas.’ With this, users can share ideas, work on documents together, join Google Meet calls easily, and do more when collaborating. The new Docs will now have the ability to add important details from a Calendar meeting invite such as “smart chips for attendees and attached files.”

Google Meet has also got support for live captions and translations. According to the blog post, “You can now present your content to a Google Meet call on the web directly from the Doc, Sheet, or Slide where you’re already working with your team. Jumping between collaborating in a document and a live conversation without skipping a beat helps the project — and the team — stay focused.”

Google Maps

Google Maps‘ already existing Live View feature will allow users to instantly get details of surrounding places such as restaurants or shops. These details will include reviews, how crowded these places are, their photos, and more. It will display street signs for complex intersections and work indoors to help users navigate buildings such as airports.

In addition to this, Google Maps will also give ‘live busyness information.’ This will allow users to make an informed decision before stepping out during the pandemic. According to the blog post, Google says, “We’re tailoring our map to highlight the most relevant places based on time of day and whether or not you’re traveling.”

Google Photos

The new ‘Little Patterns’ feature of Google Photos can read visual similarities between different pictures and present them as an assembled memory. Google Photos will also now sort images for memories basis on occasion they were taken on. For example, pictures shot during Diwali will be presented as ‘Diwali.’ According to Google, “You can prevent photos of certain people or time periods from showing up in Memories in just a few taps. We’re also making it possible to remove a single photo from a Memory, rename it or remove it entirely.”

In addition to this, for user privacy, Google has introduced a ‘Locked Folder’ feature for photos and videos, accessed only via password or fingerprint authentication.

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