Google wrapped up its annual I/O conference with some big announcements. More than the new hardware teased or software features unveiled, the Mountain-view based technology giant bet big on a multi-device future.
Another billion users added to the Android ecosystem
The Android family of users is now over three billion strong, and more than a billion of those users were added in the last year alone.
Rich Communication Services (RCS) for SMS in Android 13
Google said that it was working with phone carriers and OEMs across the world to upgrade SMS capabilities with a new standard called Rich Communication Services or RCS. This enables important safety features like end-to-end encryption. Besides this, it also allows users to share high-quality photos, have the options to see type indicators and enables messaging over Wi-Fi.
Google Wallet: Standardising your most used services in one place
The Google Wallet will allow users to save and store important information like payment cards, event tickets, boarding passes, student IDs and more in one convenient place on your phone. You will also be able to store hotel keys or office badges right into your wallet.
The company said that it was collaborating with states across the US and international partners to allow users to store digital driving licences and IDs to Google Wallet as well.
Google Wallet will also be coming to Wear OS smartwatches, starting with support for saving payment information right on the watch.
Emergency services built right into Android
Google said that it recently launched Emergency Location Services (ELS) in Bulgaria, Paraguay, Spain and Saudi Arabia. It was now expanding the service to more than one billion people worldwide.
Early Earthquake Warnings are already ready to go in 25 countries, and Google said that it would launch the service in many high-risk regions around the world this year.
The company is also working on bringing Emergency SOS to Wear OS smartwatches, that allows you to instantly contact a trusted friend or family member or use it to call emergency services, right from your watch.
Google Assistant on Samsung Galaxy smartwatches
Google will soon make the Google Assistant available on Samsung Galaxy smartwatches, starting with the Galaxy Watch 4 series. The assistant has also been improved with faster, more natural voice interactions, allowing you to access useful features like voice-controlled navigation.
Besides these are new app experiences for Spotify, adidas Running, LINE and KakaoTalk, with more from Soundcloud and Deezer, coming later this year.
A renewed focus on Tablets
Google is going to focus heavily on tablets with Android 12L and Android 13, that optimise information for larger-screen devices. There are also new multitasking features that allow you to switch between apps or drag and drop them side-by-side for split view.
The company is also focusing heavily on system-level updates that improve app experiences on Android tablets, starting with Google apps like YouTube Music, Google Maps, Messages and more that will be updated to take advantage of the extra screen real-estate.
Google is also working with other apps to revamp them for tablets, including TikTok, Facebook and more. Google Play will also be streamlined to more easily show tablet-optimised apps.
More interoperability with Android devices
Google said that the openness of its Android ecosystem allowed for a greater variety of devices to work together, and it is working to make the experience even smoother with things like Fast Pair, that allows you to quickly connect Bluetooth devices to your smartphones or tablets.
You will also be able to use Chromecast on more devices, even allowing you to cast your media on Chromebooks and your car, using Android Auto.
The experience is also seamless between devices, like the audio on your Bluetooth headphones, automatically switching from your tablet to your phone, to take incoming calls.Phone Hub on Chromebook is expanding to allow you access to all your phone's messaging apps on your laptop. You will be able to directly respond to messages, view your conversation history and even launch apps directly from the laptop. Google also announced built-in support for Matter on Android.