While AI is a focus for Google at IO this year, Android also saw some new features announced. An expanded Find My Device network was announced as well as unknown tracker alerts on Android. New features and customisation options were announced for Android as well.
Find My Device Network
The new Find My Device feature will harness over ‘a billion Android devices across the world’ says Google, which will now not only find your missing phone, but also your headphones from Sony and JBL and tracker tags including those from Tile, Chipolo, and Pebblebee.
Find My Device Network will use crowd-sourced data, but Google is keen to point out that user privacy is a key priority. Data is end-to-end encrypted with Google unable to ese or use the data for any other purpose.
Unwanted Tracker Notifications
Bluetooth trackers are a wonderful way to find your lost items, but if one becomes attached to you it’s difficult to know as an Android user unless you download an app. Now Google is fixing this, baking in unknown tracker notifications into Android.
Alerts will work for all commonly used bluetooth trackers, which of course means Apple Air Tags, but they’ll also show up if trackers from manufacturers in the Find My Device Network become attached to you as well.
If an unwanted tracker is located, a notification will pop up on Android. The pop up will offer users a map showing the device and where it’s been seen with you, as well as offering to play a sound to help you locate the device.
Google is also giving Android users proactive measures with an option to enable manual scanning.
The Android Lock Screen is getting customisation finally with new clock styles available, as well as the ability to add shortcuts to a favourite app like a torch or QR Scanner. You’ll be able to customise the position of the clock, as well as other information like date and temperature.
There’s also going to be a new monochrome colour scheme that you’ll be able to apply not just to your lock screen but to your entire ‘phone experience’.
Google is also bringing new Wallpaper options to Android with Emoji Wallpaper and Cinematic Wallpaper announced. You’ll also be able to access a new Generative AI Wallpaper generator.
Emoji Wallpaper will let you choose some of your favourite emoji, then you’ll see them laid out in patterns on your wallpaper. You can change the emoji used, pattern and colours to generate your own personalised wallpaper.
The Cinematic Wallpaper uses on-device machine learning to make a 3D image from your favourite photos. You’ll see them offering up a parallax effect when you unlock or tilt your device.
The new Generative AI Wallpaper generator is for those of us who don’t have a photo ready to use as a background. The generator will make unique wallpapers using Google’s Text-to-image diffusion model based on a few suggested prompts.
Magic Compose is a step up from the Smart Reply we’ve previously seen, with the feature coming to spice up your Text, and Google hopes your RCS messages.
Magic Compose is powered by generative AI and offers suggested replies based on the context of your messages. You can even change the style of the reply to be more concise, professional or, just for shits and gigs, like Shakespeare.
We’ll be able to check Magic Compose out when it rolls out in beta.
Since the launch of Wear OS 3.0 in 2021, Google announced they’ve five times growth for the platform. They’ve announced some new features including new Gmail and Calendar features coming later this year.
Another one for users is the upcoming launch of WhatsApp’s first ever smartwatch app for Wear OS.
Google And Samsung XR Platform
Google and Samsung are building a new ‘XR Platform’ in an effort to bring Android to more screens.
There’s very little information on what this XR Platform is – eXtended Reality? – however, Sameer Samat, VP of Android Eco-System said in his blog post that they will share more on it later this year.