On Wednesday, Google wrapped up its I/O developer conference in California, announcing some pretty big updates to its Pixel line and demonstrating its latest developments in artificial intelligence. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the event live, we’ve rounded up all the main news that came out of the keynote (courtesy of The Verge).
Three new additions to the Pixel line
Google’s Pixel hardware took center stage during the conference as three new products were launched: the Pixel Fold, the Pixel Tablet and the more affordable Pixel 7A.
The $1,799 Pixel Fold marks Google’s first foray into the foldable scene, with a 5.8-inch OLED outdoor display that opens into a larger 7.6-inch display that’s also an OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. There is also the new 11-inch Pixel tablet priced at $499. The device works as a typical tablet as well as a smart display thanks to the attached magnetic charging station that also serves as a speaker.
Finally, Google updated its mid-range A-series lineup with the addition of the Pixel 7A. Just like the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet, the device features Google’s Tensor G2 chip, along with a 6.1-inch 1080p display that can run up to 90Hz. The base version of the phone costs $499, but some carriers will offer a higher-priced $549 option that supports the millimeter wave (mmWave).
Google Search gets AI-powered snapshots
Google Search is getting a major update in the form of something called an AI snapshots. Once you opt-in to a new feature called Search Generative Experience (SGE), you will be able to see AI-powered answers at the very top of search results for some queries, which can provide more context to your search. You can then narrow down the selection of displayed information using follow-up questions.
These AI snapshots are powered by the latest version of Google’s large language model (LLM) called PaLM 2, also announced at the I/O conference. The new model already powers 25 Google services, including chatbot Bard, and comes with improvements in reasoning, coding, and translation.
Bard accessible to all
Speaking of Bard, Google has announced that its AI chatbot is now available to all, regardless of whether you’ve been on the waiting list. The company is also adding tons of new features, like Japanese and Korean language support and an easier way to export generated text to Google Docs and Gmail.
There’s also a new dark mode and visual search features. Google plans to add even more functionality in the future – including AI image generation using Adobe’s AI generator (Firefly) and integration with third-party services such as OpenTable and Instacart.
Android gets AI-powered customization options
AI prevails in other options as well. Google has announced that Android is also getting new features powered by artificial intelligence. One of them, called Magic Compose, will “live” inside Android’s Messages and give you the ability to reply to texts using AI-suggested responses.
It’s also adding a feature that will let you use AI to create a personalized wallpaper. Instead of choosing from a set of premade options, you’ll soon be able to describe an image that your device will then generate using Google’s text-to-image diffusion model. Moreover, Google is launching a Pixel-exclusive feature next month that lets you customize your device with a new “cinematic wallpaper” that adds depth to one of your existing photos.
New and improved smartwatch
Although Wear OS 3 hasn’t been fully rolled out yet, Google is already gearing up for Wear OS 4. Google has announced that the updated OS will come with improved battery life, a way for users to back up and restore their watches, and new accessibility features.
In addition, Wear OS 4 enables better smart home integration with lighting adjustments, media management, and animated camera notification previews – all from your watch. Wear OS 4 is currently only available in developer preview and emulator, with general public availability expected later this year.
Revamped Google Home app
The redesigned Google Home app is no longer in invite-only public preview and became available to everyone starting Thursday, May 11. The overhauled app comes with major improvements, including a better camera interface, a new Favorites tab, and support for a host of new device types.
New Google Search feature provides answers from real people
Google must have realized that a huge number of users are adding “Reddit” to their searches because it’s rolling out a new Perspectives feature that sources answers from Reddit, Stack Overflow, YouTube, personal blogs and other websites.
Google Photos gets Magic Editor
The new AI editing feature lets you significantly boost your photos, like enhancing the sky, moving a person or object, and removing people in the background. It will be available in early access to select Pixel users later this year.
Introducing Duet AI for Workspace
As part of the I/O conference, Google also announced a new name for the suite of AI tools included in Docs, Sheets, Presentations, Meet and Gmail: Duet AI. While these Workspace features let you do things like compose an email or generate images from text in Slides, they are currently only available to those who sign up to the waiting list.