Google I/O 2022 was much shorter this year. Rather than three full days of virtual sessions and talks, Google opted for two days for its developer conference, with most announcements happening within the two hours of its opening keynote. The company walked us through much of what it’s been working on behind the scenes, like how it added 24 new languages to its repertoire and introduced a feature that lets you delete yourself from searches. Google also revealed its Pixel hardware lineup for the next year, including the long-awaited and severely-rumoured Pixel Watch, Pixel 6a and even a new Android tablet dubbed the Pixel tablet.
But that’s not the only news that Google made this week. There were plenty of little bits that Google only lightly touched upon in the keynote. And as with most major developer conferences, sometimes the news happens after the keynote is over and the actual developers have started to huddle. If you’re an Android fan or you’ve got gobs of Google products lining your home, read on to hear about any of the news you might have missed.
Android 13 Beta 2 pushed out
The first Android 13 Beta may have launched just a few weeks ago, but we’re already at the second version. Google pushed out the update to Pixel phones that are a part of the program a few hours after the I/O keynote. The update is relatively minor in terms of feature additions.
I am still digging through this beta version of Android 13 to see what’s new. For now, proceed toward any beta with the utmost caution. But most importantly, have fun.
Fitbit and the Pixel Watch will co-exist
It was pretty exciting to hear that Fitbit would have deep integration in the Pixel Watch, though folks were still curious if it meant we’d ever see another Fitbit-specific wearable.
In an interview with CNET, James Park, the Vice President, General Manager, and co-found of Fitbit, who now heads Google’s wearables division, confirmed that more would be on the horizon. “The Pixel Watch is going to be part of a family of devices from Google and Fitbit that fits into different ranges of prices,” explained Park. “So you can have super premium devices under the Pixel brand. And then we’ll continue to have Fitbit devices at other prices as well.”
Google introduces Health Connect
We learned from Google’s keynote and the existence of the Pixel Watch that the company is still investing in its wearable devices and attempting to bring more wellness features into the frame. Google also quietly introduced Health Connect, a new platform for health app developers to implement to securely share and access health and fitness data between different Android devices. It’s particularly great news for Samsung watch wearers, who have had to jump through hoops with third-party apps to get health data synced between Samsung Health and Google Fit.
Google is gearing up for Matter
Talking about the Matter smart home standard feels like rehashing the plot of Waiting for Godot, but that’s the name of the game at this stage. At least the rest of the industry is keeping the dream alive by mentioning it, and Google gave us a little more in terms of what to expect when the standard is ready to implement.
Developers will be able to access the Google Home Developer Console later this summer, which features two new software development kits for building Matter devices and apps. This SDK will also include access to Google’s Intelligence Clusters for developers who meet particular security and privacy requirements. This will allow their devices and apps to access your Home app’s Home & Away routines, which is the key to automation in any Google-led smart home.
Google’s ‘one more thing’ was a pair of AR glasses for translation
If you stayed until the very end of the Google I/O 2022 keynote, you saw Google show off its AR glasses, which appear to be merely a concept. The two-minute video showed us how this seemingly normal-looking pair of thick-rimmed glasses could translate language in real-time, right in front of your eyes. It’s precisely the practical application I expected Google to show off at its developer conference. It seems a good indicator that the company is thinking hard about marketing the technology without veering too far into the Metaverse narrative.
Samsung gives us a timeline for the Google Assistant
As a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 wearer, I’ve been waiting for the company to tell us when we could expect the Google Assistant to hit the watch. I mean, we thought we knew.
In a press release timed for after the Google I/O keynote, Samsung’s Patrick Chomet, EVP and Head of Customer Experience Office at Mobile eXperience Business, revealed that this summer would be when we could expect to use Google Assistant on our watches. Chomet also said that Samsung would optimise even more of Google’s apps and services for Galaxy Watches.
Chromebooks are getting a much-needed PWA
There’s been a ton bubbling up over in the Chrome OS realm of things. One of the more significant pieces of news that cropped up during Google I/O is that Google and Cisco have teamed up to develop a Progressive Web App (PWA) for Webex on Chrome OS.
This might not seem like a big deal if you’re not living your life in meetings all day. But for the Chrome OS platform, this brings it one step closer to becoming a bonafide desktop OS, and it shows how easy it is for a developer to take their app and wrap it in the PWA shell. Cisco designed the app to work like it’s native to Chrome OS, even though it’s coded as a web application.
This also means you don’t have to use the subpar Android app to dial into Webex meetings. Your Chromebook and its inputs and outputs will integrate better, too. And you can tell your co-workers to stop yanking your chain for asking IT for a Chromebook.
Here’s a summary of all of the Google I/O keynote announcements, ICYMI.