Google have recently held its annual event Google IO to present new software developments. We’re always excited to learn about the new developments and what we could implement in our projects, particularly around Android app development. Here’s what we thought were quite interesting updates.
New design for Android 12
Google is bringing Android 12 later this year and it comes with lots of new things! Google has redesigned Android 12 which has needed it for a long time. There’s a new design, Material You, which includes bubble-like buttons, changing colours, improved widgets and smooth animations to make it flowy and interactive. One of the interesting features is that the system is able to change colours to adapt to the wallpaper automatically. It’s a big visual update for Android and it’s exciting to see these changes.
Google has also added some changes to privacy on Android 12. What stood out to us was the Privacy Dashboard which shows the information different apps can access from a device. This gives the user more transparency over how their data is used, as well as enabling them to control this by managing permissions. It’s also a great feature to be able to view this information from a centralised screen, instead of checking each app’s credentials on the Play Store.
Similar to Apple, Google has added approximate or precise location sharing options. Furthermore, Google has included additional privacy features where users can reject or completely block apps from using the device’s mic or camera functions. Google had already updated its app review process to ensure that upon submission, apps confirm that they request background location information. So, this update for Android 12 continues their efforts to ensuring users give their consent to location sharing and don’t have any unexpected trackers within apps.
Google has now confirmed that it's going to include the option to opt out of advertising which is similar to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency starting later this year on Android 12 devices. This feature enables users to opt out of apps using and sharing their data with third parties. This has a massive knock-on effect on advertising networks that rely on customer data. Google stated that they will offer an alternative solution for analytics and fraud prevention. This was only a matter of time that Google announced this, following Apple, as user concern around data use is growing across different platforms.
A range of camera and video updates
With the Android 12 update, Google has added a range of updates to its camera technology. Google has updated its camera functionality to introduce inclusivity. It enables users to adjust the image to dark skin tones for better lighting and improved accuracy. It captures skin tones without over-brightening or desaturating people of colour in photos for better representation.
Google has also introduced a next-gen video calling feature, Project Starline, that makes the person on the screen appear more in 3D. The technology displays the person from different angles to make the conversation more lifelike. However, this technology consists of lots of special equipment to be able to handle these 3D calls. There are numerous cameras, lights and sensors, so it’s not likely we’ll be using these calls from our own laptops any time soon. These 3D video features make a great link with our current situation in the pandemic where many have been reliant on Zoom to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues.
As part of Google’s efforts into tackling health issues, it debuted a tool that uses AI to help identify skin conditions. By using phone cameras, users will be able to find possible conditions. The demand to determine skin conditions stems from a growing number of search queries, but this technology should not be used for medical diagnosis alone.
Google has joined Apple with its technology to enable users to open their cars with their phones. A range of phones with Android 12 will be available to be used as digital car keys for brands like BMW. This is an exciting feature, as well as adding one more thing that our phones will be able to do.
Unifying wearable technology
Google announced that it will unify its wearable platform technology (Tizen and Wear OS) to become Wear. It’s a great update to bring together its fragmented software, offering better performance and making it easier for Android developers to create products for the smartwatch.
Developing AI to understand language
Google presented its AI experiment laMDA which can recreate a real conversation. This system builds on a conversation language model and uses AI to speak on different topics. Although it’s still early days, it’s already impressive how much Google has achieved in this area. This research will feed into Google Assistant and potentially other robots in the future, making search more conversational.
These have been some of the more memorable Google’s announcements. We look forward to testing out Android 12 and seeing these updates when they come out. If you’re interested in this or would like to talk to us about Android app development, let us know!