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Google I/O Roundup: Immersive maps, new Pixel devices, more

Google on Wednesday held the opening event of Google I/O, the company’s annual conference for developers. During the event, Google announced multiple new features and technologies that will be available not only for Android users but also for iOS and macOS users. This includes immersive maps, multisearch, enhanced video calling, personalized ads, and much more.

Read on for a roundup of what Google announced today at I/O.

Immersive maps

Google Maps is certainly the most popular map service worldwide, and it’s now getting even better with more immersive maps. In selected cities, users will have the option of an “Immersive View,” which shows landmarks in 3D.

But the feature goes beyond just showing buildings, as Immersive View combines Street View data and aerial captures to show everything around in rich detail. For instance, Immersive View simulates the current weather and traffic, and you can even change the view as you like. Android developers will also be able to integrate Immersive View from Google Maps into their apps for a rich AR experience.

Multisearch

Google’s main product is Google Search. Now, Google Search is getting even more powerful with new tools like multisearch and scene exploration with Google Lens.

With multisearch, Google wants to make it even easier for users to find real-life products and stores. As an example, if you need something that you don’t know the name of, you can simply take a picture and then type “near me” right next to it in the search. Google will find stores or even restaurants that have that item near you.

Scene exploration, on the other hand, Google describes as “Ctrl + F for the real world.” Using the phone’s camera, users can point to products in a store to find multiple details about them at once. Then these products can be filtered by rating, flavors, or whatever you want.

Enhanced video calling

As video calls are now more essential than ever, Google has announced improvements to Google Chat. Android developers can now implement content sharing directly from their apps, similar to Apple’s SharePlay. But that’s only part of the new features announced.

During video calls, users will have Portrait Lighting options. This way, you can change the light during a call. More than that, the intensity and position of the artificial light can be freely changed in the video. Google Chat will also read the entire chat to automatically generate a summary of the conversation based on what users have written.

Personalized ads

Google’s services are highly ad-based. This year, the company will launch “My Ad Center,” a place where users can have more control over the ads they see across the web. There, users will have options to disable Personalized Ads and reduce the number of ads based on the user’s data, or even choose which categories of ads the user wants to see or not see.

Users will even be able to limit advertisements by brands or sensitive content, such as alcohol, gambling, weight loss, or dating. According to Google, My Ad Center will be available later this year for all web users.

Google's My Ad Center.

Google Wallet

Android 13 users will find a new app on their phones called Google Wallet, which is similar to Apple Wallet. Instead of a dedicated app for payments, Google Wallet also stores tickets, documents such as a driver’s license, and even the user’s COVID certificate.

One particular and very interesting feature announced for Google Pay is support for virtual cards when shopping online. Google Pay will automatically suggest the user use the virtual number instead of the physical card number for more secure transactions.

Tablet apps

When it comes to tablets, Android is still far behind iPadOS. However, during Google I/O, the company showed a preview of system apps redesigned to take advantage of larger screens. In addition, Google has been working with developers such as TikTok and Facebook to improve their apps for Android tablets.

Android 13 apps optimized for tablets.

Matter support

Matter is a new standard for smart home devices supported by Apple, Google, Samsung, Amazon, and other companies. Although the standard has been delayed multiple times, Google said at I/O that Android 13, which is coming later this year, will provide support for Matter-enabled devices.

With Matter, the same smart home device can be connected to different platforms such as Apple HomeKit and Google Home.

Pixel 6a and Pixel 7

In addition to software and service news, Google also announced Pixel 6a – a new midrange version of its smartphone. Pixel 6a comes with a 60Hz OLED screen, in-display fingerprint scanner, and the same flagship Google Tensor processor as other Pixel phones.

With 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage, Pixel 6a is capable of taking 12-megapixel photos through its wide and ultrawide rear cameras. It supports Pixel-exclusive features like Magic Eraser, Real Tone, and Face Unblur to enhance photos. The phone, which will cost $449, will be available in July. Google says Pixel 6a will get three years of Android updates and five years of security patches.

Google also teased Pixel 7 with a new camera design and a faster processor as well as new Pixel Buds Pro earbuds to compete with AirPods Pro.

New Google Pixel phones.

Google Pixel Watch and Pixel Tablet

After multiple leaks on the web, Google has officially announced its new smartwatch called Google Pixel Watch. With a rounded design, it runs the custom version of Android WearOS with all of Google’s services built in.

Not many details about Google Pixel Watch were revealed at the event, as Google says the product will be released later this year. Google also revealed that it’s working on its own Pixel Tablet, coming in 2023. All of these products will have deep integration with Android phones.

Wrap up

Even if you’re not an Android user, Google announcements are definitely interesting since many of us use Google services on our iPhones, iPads, and Macs. According to the company, many of the features announced today will be rolled out to users later this year.

If you want a more in-depth look at what Google announced today, be sure to check out the full Google I/O coverage on 9to5Google.

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