Google I/O ’22 (streamed live from Googleplex in Mountain View, California early morning on Thursday, 12 May 2022 Manila Time) gave us a glimpse of how the search giant envisions a multi-device world as they capitalize on Android 13.
With over a billion Android phones activated in 2021, it is now the most popular OS in the world. And while the phone is still the most popular form of computing, people are adding more connected technologies to their lives like TVs, cars, watches, and more.
“Even if those (Android) devices come from different manufacturers, people expect everything to work together without the hassle. Android has always been about people choosing the technology that works for them. In a multi-device world, this openness is more essential for creating the best consumer experience,” according to Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management for Android & Google Play.
Phone at the Center
Android 13 is built using the Material You design language, making phones adapt to their user’s styles. App icons can now incorporate color themes plus a new media control that tailors its look to the music that the user listens to. For multi-lingual smartphone users, this latest Android version lets you choose your preferred language per app.
Samat stressed that security goes beyond the device as he enumerates some of the new features in Android 13 related to security and privacy. He shared that there are currently around 500 million monthly active users with RCS (Rich Communication Services) — something that Google has been working on with carriers and OEMs around the globe — and calls on other mobile operating systems to upgrade to the next generation SMS platform to ensure that messages are private no matter what device you are using.
Extending Beyond the Phone
“Can my phone replace my wallet?” This is the question posed by Samat as he introduces the new Google Wallet — a digital wallet for Android that gives users fast and secured access to their everyday essentials. More than just a financial app, Google Wallet lets you store on your device Debit/Credit Cards, ID cards, show tickets, and even vaccination cards. In some parts of the United States, Google Wallet users will soon be able to store their Digital Driver’s License, office badges, and even hotel keys on their smartphones — eliminating the need to physically show their identification or NFC access cards; simply tap the NFC button or show a QR code when needed. (Personal note: I am wondering when will Google will finally bring Google Wallet/Pay to the Philippines.)
Later this year, Wear OS devices will have Emergency SOS features so that users can immediately contact a trusted friend or family member, or call emergency services right from their watches. Google shared that there are now over three times as many active Wear OS devices as there were last year, thanks to the launch of their unified platform with Samsung in 2021. And for the first time ever, Google Assistant is coming to Samsung Galaxy watches (starting soon with the Watch4 series).
Expect the commercial availability of more Wear OS devices from Samsung, Fossil Group, Montblanc, Mobvoi, and other brands in the months to come. The recent Google event showed how the Google Assistant experience for Wear OS has been improved with faster, more natural voice interactions — making it more useful for voice-controlled navigation or setting reminders.
This year’s Google I/O revealed updates to the tablet version of popular Google apps like YouTube Music, Google Maps, Messages, and Google Play maximizing the screen real estate of such devices to bring greater user experiences.
The point of adding more devices to your life is to make it easier, richer, and more convenient — as they say. I should agree, but these things are only achieved when everything works seamlessly.
Devices with built-in Chromecast lets you watch videos, listen to music, and more. Google is working to extend casting capabilities with its new partners and products (like Chromebooks and even cars) to make it easier for your connected devices to communicate and work together.
Soon, we will be able to copy a website URL or picture from our Android phones and paste it onto our Android tablets, on top of expanding Phone Hub on Chromebooks to allow access to the phone’s messaging apps.
The announcements and products showcased in this edition of Google I/O truly usher us to the next level of a multi-device world.