All New Android Features Announced at Google I/O

Google took the stage at this year’s I/O event for about two hours, announcing exciting new products like the Pixel 6a, Pixel 7, and Pixel Watch. While hardware tends to overshadow the show at these events, the team certainly didn’t gloss over Android: Between Android 13’s fresh features and Google’s general Android updates, there was plenty to talk about in the software realm.

In their Android segment, Google showed that they think of the OS in terms of “three big themes”: “Phone in the middle”, “Expanding the phone” and “Better together”. Below you will see these three themes and what was specifically announced in each category.

Google implements RCS and Digital ID

Google repeated itself a bit at the beginning of Phone in the Center, talking about some of the new Android 13 features we already saw in the first beta . We were shown features such as app icons that can change their color to match your wallpaper with Material You; new media control panel with a fun “groovy” playback bar; and the ability to personalize different languages ​​for each application.

The company also announced that Android 13 brings a ton of new security and privacy features, but didn’t go into details. They also highlighted their efforts to work with carriers to implement RCS , a next-generation text messaging protocol that offers rich messaging features such as end-to-end encryption, Wi-Fi messaging, and read receipts, to replace SMS. The company took the moment to hint strongly that they hope Apple will adopt RCS for its iPhones, which only uses SMS for all non-iMessage messages.

However, the first big new feature added to Google I/O this year was a good one: the company is upgrading Google Wallet to include a digital ID, specifically a digital driver’s license. This feature reflects Apple’s digital identity program for its Wallet app, which will be rolled out soon. When the features of both platforms are launched, you will be able to use your phone to “show” your ID in the participating states. It’s not just a picture of your ID: you authenticate the ID with NFC or a QR code to confirm that the ID is active and belongs to you.

Google also announced that Emergency SOS is coming to Wear OS, allowing you to easily connect emergency services from your Android smartwatch in case of an emergency. The company is also expanding Android’s earthquake warning system, using your phone’s accelerometer to warn you of an approaching earthquake before it happens.

Android apps will be optimized for tablet-sized displays

Moving away from smartphones, Google “Extended Beyond the Phone”, as promised, turned its attention to Android on tablets. The company has announced that it wants to optimize Android apps for tablet-sized displays and will start with over 20 popular apps that will be updated soon. These apps include big players like TikTok, Facebook, Canva, and Google Messages. You’ll notice changes to the user interface of these apps to better accommodate large screen sizes: TikTok, for example, will use part of the screen for videos and another part for comments, so you can comfortably view both at once.

Google also showed off an iPadOS-like windowing system: you can drag apps from the bottom dock or app list for an instant split screen.

Android devices should now work together more effectively

Finally, Google took some time to talk about how it wants your various Android devices to work seamlessly together – or “better together”. It was announced that the casting will be extended to new devices such as Chromebooks and cars. The Phone Hub will also be expanded so you can stream the messaging app from your phone to your Chromebook.

My favorite new feature is the ability to copy something from your phone and paste directly onto your tablet. This works great across the entire Apple ecosystem, whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, so I’m thrilled that this option is finally coming to Android.

Google has also highlighted the Fair Pair extension, which will allow other devices such as TVs to pair with your headphones and smart devices just as easily as you’d expect from Fast Pair. Speaking of pairing, Google has announced “Matter,” a solution that connects the Google Nest to a variety of brands and products for an easy pairing coming this fall.

To complete the Android announcements, Google today released the new Android 13 beta for Pixel devices. This beta will be the second for Android 13 and will likely include the new features discussed today. If you want to install the new update from Beta 1 or want to try the beta for the first time, check out our instructions on how to install Android 13 on your Pixel here .


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