You can spend all the time in the world framing your shots, getting your lighting just right, and capturing the perfect moment — none of which does you much good if you can't find any of these awesome pics when you need them. That's why so many of us are enamored with Google Photos, and the powerful tools it offers to search through, browse, and organize your collection of thousands upon thousands of snapshots. Last month Google teased the arrival of a newly reorganized grid to improve discovery even more, and now we're starting to see pieces of it begin to arrive.
When Apple announced that it was bringing widgets to iOS, it was hard not to be a little bit jealous as an Android user. Yes, we've had widgets since the beginning, but they've been so badly neglected for so long that most of them look awful — even Google's own — and there's no consistency in the way work. iPhone widgets are much more rigid and they look a lot better for it. Thankfully, Google is finally giving widgets the attention they've long needed.
Android 12 is looking quite different from its predecessors, but the OS also has a few new tricks under the hood — particularly in the privacy department. The new Android version gives you clear indicators when an app is using your camera or your microphone in the top right corner of your display, so you're never caught off guard (many other manufacturers already include this in their custom Android software). But what if you want to be extra sure that no app can see or hear you? Google added two dedicated toggles for that, and they will go live on Android 12 Beta 2.
Chrome OS and Android are becoming increasingly intertwined. You can already start your phone's hotspot through your Chromebook, and there are options for notification mirroring, smart lock, and sharing recent Chrome tabs. During I/O, Google has announced yet another piece of the multi-device puzzle: Photo sharing.
Google Photos might cost you money going forward, but Google is working hard on making it an enticing service nonetheless, with Google One editing perks and automatic creations that you can't find on other platforms. Now the company has introduced another stand-out feature: a Locked Folder. As more details about it are emerging, we've also learned about a potential dealbreaker for some — the Locked Folder is purely local on your phone, with no cloud backups available.
It's no secret that 2021 was a huge year for Chromebooks. Google's web-first operating system grew by leaps and bounds as people looked for ways to stay connected during quarantine. What's new in 2021? Well, lots of Chromebook hardware, for one.
Every Google I/O, we get to see some impossibly cool shit from Google that, it frequently turns out, actually was impossible (at least in the practical, scalable sense of the word "possible"). That's not to say the company intends to mislead — far from it. I/O is a playground for the incredibly ambitious and often financially untenable experiments from a company that has more money than it is reasonable for a normal person to comprehend in anything but a purely mathematical and utterly abstract sense. The kind of money that could feasibly send not just one, but an entire colony of chimpanzees to space — each in separate rockets — dressed in adorable gold lamé suits with matching limited edition Rolexes and not incur a quarterly balance sheet impact worse than a particularly nasty EU regulatory fine.
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Google unveiled Material Design at I/O back in 2014. An overarching design system was much-needed — it brought consistency to Google's digital products and allowed developers to easily build apps that looked at home on Android and the web. It has evolved a great deal over the years, but the next major iteration is upon us and it's going to be the biggest overhaul since it launched. Material You, as the name suggests, is all about personalization, and it's coming first to Google Pixels with Android 12 later this year.