New hardware and AI-enhanced additions to existing apps were among the many announcements made during today’s opening keynote talk at Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O. The firm aggressively pursued generative computing, proclaiming itself a pioneer in AI technology for decades. In addition to the new Pixel phones and tablet computers it introduced today, the company has proudly placed AI at the forefront of practically every service and product it manages.
The Pixel Fold Arrives
The Pixel Fold, Google’s first folding smartphone, is now available, and it will set you back a whopping $1,799. It’s slimmer than Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold4, and its large, flat front screen provides an experience that’s nearly identical to that of a regular smartphone.
To enjoy media, multitask, or read, open it up to reveal a 7.6-inch OLED display. You may learn more about the Fold by reading our in-depth, first-hand account. If you decide to preorder now, Google will throw in a free Pixel Watch, but you won’t receive it until June.
Google Also Offers a Pixel Tablet
The Pixel Tablet, which was first announced at Google I/O in 2016, is now available for purchase. Pre-orders began today (only in 11 countries), and the release date is June 20, so there is still some time to go. This $499 tablet isn’t designed to be a portable device.
Instead, you can charge it while it’s resting on the supplied magnetic dock (which also acts as a speaker with sound quality comparable to that of a Nest Hub) when you’re not using it. When docked, it functions similarly to other Google smart speakers, allowing you to control your smart home devices and respond to your “Hey Google” commands. Chromecast is integrated, allowing you to cast content from your mobile device or computer to it.
Simply remove it from the dock when you’re ready to use it, and it will function like any other Android tablet. In fact, the tablet experience on Android has been improved by Google, with over 50 Google apps optimized for the larger screen.
The Tensor G2 processor it uses allows it to run the same software as other Pixel smartphones. Unfortunately, there is no stylus or keyboard included. It’s portable and compatible with Bluetooth accessories, but it’s evident that Google has indoor use in mind for this device.
Also a Low-Cost Pixel 7A
Every year, Google’s flagship Pixel smartphone is replaced with an A-series version. The Pixel 7A costs $50 more than its predecessor ($499) but offers premium features such as a faster screen refresh rate (90 Hz) and wireless charging. All of the cameras are brand new with the highest resolution being 64 megapixels. Our review goes into greater detail (eight out of ten stars; WIRED’s endorsement). If you order today, Google will throw in a free case and $100 toward the purchase of an additional accessory (like the Pixel Buds A-Series).
Google Search to Soon Offer Chatbot-Style Results
Users in the United States of America will have access to an experimental version of Google’s web search that includes text creation in the style of ChatGPT. Artificial intelligence-generated text summarizing information from around the web will show above the regular links and adverts for some inquiries.
In response to a question regarding the recent coronation of Britain’s new king, an answer might consist of several pages. If you search for “e-bikes” on Google, the search engine will compile a list of bullet points summarizing reviews from throughout the web. We’ll be keeping an eye on how this new feature affects the way our readers interact with our purchasing recommendations, as WIRED is one of those sites that publishes numerous product reviews.
Android Gets an Ai Boost
The improvements to Android that have traditionally been the highlight of Google’s I/O events were not announced until the event was almost 80 minutes into. You probably already anticipated that Google is packing even more artificial intelligence tools into its mobile OS.
While it did detail certain improvements to privacy protection, the document largely centered on superficial tweaks. AI wallpapers, which allow users to alter the visual aesthetics of photos and make interactive, moving backdrops out of pictures and emoji, were the main setting that Google executives seemed excited about.
The generative capabilities of Google’s Bard chatbot are also being integrated into Android messaging in the form of question-asking and tone-adapting syntax settings.
Workplace Tools for The Development of Generative Ai
Google is quietly integrating AI into its Workspace suite of products, which includes Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Google’s generative AI is the backbone of Duet AI for Workspace, which can be used to generate content like job postings, stories, and even spreadsheets.
It may even help you construct entire presentations, making suggestions for things like slide text and even producing visual elements like images on the fly. It looks like Google’s response to Microsoft’s 365 Copilot, which integrates some of Microsoft’s generative tools into Microsoft Office to boost productivity and creativity. Google has announced that upcoming improvements to its free, cloud-based software suite powered by artificial intelligence will be made available to users.
Google’s Magic Eraser, a tool for modifying photographs, will soon receive an upgrade. Google describes the rebranded app as a “quick mobile version of Photoshop,” and the name change reflects that. In addition to altering the lighting and cropping out distracting foreground items like bag straps, users can also reposition the subject of the photo anywhere within the frame.
Google promotes the service as a means to improve images, but any alteration to an image is theoretically possible. Since every photograph can be edited to change the posture of people, make it look like they were touching something they weren’t, or insert objects into the picture that weren’t there in reality, it’s not hard to imagine this going wildly off the rails. Google has not yet commented on whether or not photos that have been altered will be labeled as such, although the company did say it would be watermarking images that were created fully in a digital environment.
Home Automation and Matter
It always feels like we’re on the verge of having a smart home that’s actually useful and not unpleasant. But what is the breaking point that will make this hope a reality? With the fabric-covered Pixel tablet serving as a portable Nest hub and offering one-tap access to the updated Google House app, Google is betting that gradual, incremental improvements will entice you to add additional connected devices to your house.
Other bonuses include a revamped home control interface optimized for Android tablets and simpler access to Google Home from your Wear OS wearable. Google is even, gasp, developing iOS-specific Matter support tools.
During the I/O keynote, Google didn’t devote a lot of time to promoting the Matter smart home standard. However, it did inform us in briefings that iOS users will soon be able to use the Google Home app to manage Matter devices. Any member of the household can use the control panel or swap profiles. The old adage goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” So, paste a Matter sticker on all of your household gadgets if you really want to get with the program.
Google’s Android Auto team has some news to give, though it seems to be a slow response to Apple’s shocking plans for CarPlay 2 disclosed in June of last year. It wasn’t announced during the I/O keynote, but rather in private briefings before the event.
Android Auto has realized that people are idling in their automobiles at charging stations with nothing to do, so it has added the ability to play videos, and games, and use the internet while in motion. In the next weeks, it appears that Polestars, which already runs on a Google OS, will also have access to YouTube. Games like Solitaire FRVR (yawn) and Beach Buggy Racing 2 (would the steering wheel work?) are listed.
The Android Auto update seems “lite” in comparison to Apple’s version, which is said to completely replace the preexisting car software rather than simply supplement it. Nonetheless, the automotive industry is sure to appreciate Google’s more passive approach.
Android Auto is collaborating with Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom to implement conference calling, allowing you to participate in meetings from the convenience of your car. The technology required for these activities is scarcely cutting-edge. It’s also important to remember that you can accomplish all of this from your phone while sitting and charging your EV. But I’d be happy with just about any upgrade to Android Auto.