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Google I/0 2021 Recap: From Android a very expressive 12 to smartwatch partnerships to the eerie “inclusive” camera.

Well…this was a lot…

Android 12

Image: The Verge
Easily one of the biggest talking points for people at I/O this year, Android 12 is the playfully polarizing shift in Android’s design that either fans are goading over or getting a little angry about. Google has essentially redesigned how the platform looks, feels, and behaves with an emphasis on individuality and customization that in a way sticks it to Apple again for iOS being so rigid. It’s based on a design and UI concept that Google is calling Material You, basically being a User interface designed based on colors, pictures and wallpapers that you take and/or set. So, when you put a wallpaper, Material You sets the colors of the phone to match the colors in that photo, from the text to the app backgrounds to even how many apps look in general. As we already said it’s a huge focus on customization, perhaps the ultimate form of it even, and it combines those colors with a big, round feel that makes widgets and everything appear in circular or “rounder” icons and backgrounds. It’s beautiful, even if right now it will only be on Pixels and Android One devices like Nokia. There’s also the expected speed and performance upgrades, as well as privacy enhancements that hopefully pull Google away from almost every privacy fiasco on the planet. Throw in some car unlocking and TV remote features, and Android 12 seems packed. Let’s hope it lives up to all our expectations.

The Google Samsung Team Up

Now when Google bought Fitbit some time ago, almost everyone thought a fitness-focused Pixel watch was going to be their big play for the (admittedly not great) Android Smartwatch space. Unfortunately no such device exists yet, but with Google joining forces with Samsung (aka the one smartwatch maker besides Apple that makes sense), it seems like everyone in the Android sector is keen to see which kind of device might finally throw the Apple Watch off it’s throne. Samsung’s new wearable devices will be using Wear OS instead of Tizen OS ,making them essentially have to throw their A game into this as they have literal reason to not let this fall on its face, but what’s more interesting is that Google is even making such a big move for smartwatches and wearables , especially since many people were already declaring that space dead to begin with. Android Smartwatches are arguably more important than the Apple watched for markets like ours anyway because, well, Android. They’ll likely get cheaper over time while staying very usable (like old flagships are aging) and as such wearables can be a more attainable technology for more Zimbos again. Thus, hopefully this works out.

 

Google’s super-smart AI gets….smarter.

It’s almost common knowledge at this point that Google is kind of leading the pack when it comes to the development of AI and Machine learning-driven systems. There’s a lot of ground-breaking stuff that they already do in the background, but even their consumer-facing products like Google Assistant essentially lead the pack as well. Which is why the announcement of their newest AI endeavor, LaMDA, is essentially just further advancements of those AI strides, as Google showcased what could become an interesting office assistant or museum guide AI that gives people information on a specific place, topic or event. All the more reason to be fearful for our jobs again…great.

 

“Inclusive” cameras and photo processing.

So by far the most “controversial” announcement, for people of color anyway, Google’s initiative to produce more inclusive (hint: accurate) depictions of people of color in it’s photo processing algorithms is well-meaning and sounds good on paper. But it also of course brings up a bevy of questions as to why that wasn’t the case in the first place and what even counts as “inclusive” when talking about cameras and pictures in the first place. After all, if pictures are art and art if up to the artist then what’s to state that one depiction is counted as more accurate than the other. It’s all something that definitely deserves a bigger deep-dive but it’s certainly interesting to say the least. And for the record we are all for it, but judging certain communities online, this might be a less smooth move for Google to implement. In the end, as usual, we shall see.
 
And that’s really about it as far as Google I/O 2021 is concerned. Again, there’s more, especially for the developer faithful of you, and we’ll definitely keep you posted on more. But for now we’ll just hope Android 12 gets to some good Nokia devices and start from there. Catch us everyday for new articles as this is turning into one really crazy week for tech.

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