At its first in-person developer conference in three years, Google announced three new smartphones and its first in-house smartwatch, as well as plans to release a new tablet next year. Google also announced updates to several of its most popular tools, including Maps, Google Translate and its core search product.
Google surprised fans of its smartphone lineup on Wednesday by unveiling two new flagship devices – the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. While the company didn’t share many details, the two smartphones are expected to be released this fall.
Google also announced the Pixel 6a smartphone, a more affordable version of its Pixel 6 lineup released earlier this year. The Pixel 6a is powered by Google’s in-house Tensor chip and will be available in three colors – green, white and black.
It costs $449 and will be available on July 21st.
There is no shortage of Android smartwatches in the market, but now Google plans to launch a new smartwatch of its own production for the first time.
The company teased the much-hyped Pixel Watch, which will use Google’s WearOS operating system and be compatible with services like the voice-controlled Google Assistant, Google Maps and Google Wallet.
An integration with Fitbit, which Google acquired in 2019, will add several activity tracking and fitness features.
The Pixel Watch will be available this fall alongside the Pixel 7 lineup. Google has also teased a new Pixel tablet that the company says will be released in 2023.
Pixel Buds Pro
Google also announced a new iteration of its Bluetooth earbuds called the Pixel Buds Pro.
The new earbuds come in four colors – orange, green, white and black – and offer features like active noise cancellation and spatial audio. The Pixel Buds Pro are priced at $199 and will be released on July 21st.
Beyond the hardware, there have also been a number of new software updates. Google Maps users will soon be able to get a real-world view of specific cities via a 3D view of popular attractions, restaurants and shops to better visualize their surroundings. While Maps already offers satellite view and street view options, Google is combining these two features with the new immersive view feature to “create a rich, digital model” that makes users feel like they’re there.
A sliding scale shows users what the area looks like at different times of the day, how busy it is and what the local traffic conditions are like.
Immersive View will be available later this year in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo on all mobile devices using Google’s Android operating system. The company said it plans to add more cities as it develops the feature.
Google is adding 24 languages to its translation tool, Google Translate — a move the company says focuses on languages of Africa and India in general, and languages that are generally underserved by technology.
These include Quechua, spoken in the Andes, particularly in Peru; Lingala, a language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Assamese spoken in north-eastern India; and Tigrinya spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The additional languages bring the total the tool can translate to 133 and will be available to all Google Translate users in the coming days, the company said.
A new skin tone scale
Google is launching a new skin tone scale it hopes will make its products more inclusive.
Many beauty and technology companies classify skin tones based on something called the Fitzpatrick scale. Developed by a Harvard dermatologist in the 1970s, it’s used to classify how different skin colors react to UV light (and thereby predict a person’s risk of sunburn and skin cancer). Though it only includes six skin tones, it’s been used by tech companies for years to inform everything from the colors of emojis and how wearable heart rate monitors work on different skin tones, to efforts to make Facebook’s AI fairer.
The company announced it would use the Monk skin tone scale, developed by Harvard professor Ellis Monk, which includes 10 different shades. Google uses it to test, for example, how well AI models (such as those that can recognize faces in images) work on people with different skin tones. The company also leverages the scale on Google Image searches, allowing people to narrow down beauty-related image queries by skin color.
Google will also release the scales as open source for others to use.
Google introduces virtual credit cards to protect users’ financial information when shopping online.
The feature generates a virtual card number that users can autofill in place of their actual card information on Android mobile devices or Google’s Chrome browser, masking their real credit card number from the companies they shop with.
Virtual cards will be introduced this summer – initially only for US users with Visa, American Express and Capital One credit cards. Google plans to add support for Mastercard later this year.
Find privacy settings
Another feature announced on Wednesday aims to give users more control over what results they see when someone searches their name in Google.
The feature, which will roll out in the coming months, will make it easier for users to request that their personal information, such as phone numbers, email and home addresses, be deleted from search results.
Google plans to give users the ability to customize the ads they see while browsing the web, with the ability to choose the brands and types of ads they want to see and don’t want to see.