Google I/O 2022 Recap: Everything you need to know from Google’s big tech event
Google I/O 2022 is done and dusted, and boy is there so much exciting stuff to talk about. While Google I/O has traditionally remained a software-focused event, the story was a bit different this year. The new Pixel hardware stole the show this time around, as Google not only announced the Pixel 6a and Pixel Watch but also gave us an early look at the upcoming Pixel 7 series and the Pixel Tablet.
We at XDA have been hard at work bringing you all the major announcements and juicy bits from Google I/O 2022. But for many, keeping up with the busy news cycle can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve rounded up all the major announcements from Google I/O 2022 in this post. Here’s a quick recap of every major announcement from the event.
Pixel 6a: Meet the latest Google mid-ranger
As expected, Google officially unveiled its latest affordable smartphone: the Pixel 6a. The new model brings notable upgrades over its predecessor, including an updated design inspired by the vanilla Pixel 6, a switch to Google’s in-house Tensor chipset, new camera tricks, etc. Unlike last year’s model, the Pixel 6a will be released in 14 markets, including India.
The big surprise
Google surprised us all with a sneak peek at its next flagships, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, seemingly in an attempt to get ahead of inevitable leaks. The phones will pack the next-gen Tensor chip and run Android 13 out of the box. We’ll have to wait until later this year for more details like specs and pricing.
Pixel Watch: Google’s first-ever smartwatch is here
The Pixel Watch, Google’s worst-kept wearable secret, is officially coming later this fall. This is Google’s first-ever smartwatch, and while we don’t know quite a lot about its hardware, Google has confirmed it will run Wear OS 3 and offer Fitbit integration.
Pixel Buds Pro
The Pixel Buds Pro is the latest addition to Google’s TWS earbuds lineup. The new truly wireless earbuds take on similar offerings from Apple, Samsung, and Sony, and pack a host of premium features like ANC, spatial audio, and 11 hours of playback time for $199.
More smartphones can now try out the Android 13 beta
The second Android 13 beta is here, and this time non-Pixel phones are also invited to the party. Although a smaller update, the latest release brings a couple of notable features like a new predictive back gesture, new permission to use exact alarms, and better support for Bluetooth LE Audio. Google Pixel owners can enroll their device into the beta program to try out the latest software. OnePlus, Realme, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, and others have also announced their own Android 13 beta program for select flagships.
Google Wallet is here to replace your physical wallet
We are all familiar with Google’s knack for rebranding and killing services. At Google I/O 2022, we got another reminder of that, with the company announcing a rebrand of Google Pay to Google Wallet. Thankfully, it’s more than a branding exercise as the new Google Wallet goes beyond what Google Pay has to offer. It will allow users to store payment cards, student ID cards, flight boarding pass, movie tickets, digital car keys, and much more — essentially replacing your physical wallet. Google Wallet will replace Google Pay in all countries except the US, Singapore, and India. Check out Karthik’s full breakdown here.
Wear OS 3: More watches, more apps
Last year, Google and Samsung teamed up to launch Wear OS 3, a new unified platform that brings the best of Google and Samsung under one umbrella. While Wear OS 3 is currently exclusive to the Galaxy Watch 4 series, more Wear OS 3-powered watches are on the way, with the Pixel Watch being the most notable one of the lot.
- Google says there are now as many as three times more active Wear OS smartwatches on the market, thanks in part to Wear OS 3 and Google’s collaboration with Samsung.
- Wear OS will be getting an Emergency SOC feature that will let users quickly contact a friend, family member, or emergency services right from their wrist.
- Google says next-gen Wear OS smartwatches are on the way. In addition to Samsung, Fossil, Mobvoi, and Montblanc are readying their 2022 watches.
- More Wear OS apps are coming to the Play Store later this year, including SoundCloud and Deezer.
- Google Assistant is finally coming to the Galaxy Watch 4 series “this summer.”
Some love for Andriod tablets
Google says simply baking new tablet features into Android isn’t enough. The app experience also needs to be optimized if we are to reap the full benefits of large screens of tablets. To that end, Google is updating more than 20 of its first-party apps, including YouTube Music, Google Maps, Google Photos, Play Store, and Google TV, to look and work better on Android tablets. Popular third-party apps such as TikTok, Facebook, Zoom, and Canva will also be getting similar UI updates. Finally, Google is also improving Google Play discovery to make it easier for users to discover apps optimized for tablets.
Google also teased the new Pixel Tablet that will launch sometime in 2023. We don’t know a whole about the tablet at this point, but it looks quite dated due to its chunky bezels.
Google Assistant: New ways to summon your digital assistant
- Nest Hub Max users can now trigger Assistant just by looking at it.
- Another feature coming to Nest Hub Max is Quick Phrases, and it will allow users to set timers, turn lights off/on, and so on without having to say “OK, Google.”
- Google Assistant will get much better at understanding natural speech. It will be able to recognize when you pause or fumble in the middle of a query and wait for you as you get your thoughts together. Currently in development, the feature is set to go live in early 2023.
Google Maps: Immersive view, Eco-friendly routes expansion, and more
- Google Maps is getting a new 3D exploration mode dubbed “Immersive View,” powered by Street View images and AI. It will be rolling out on mobile in select major cities later this year.
- Eco-friendly routes will be available in Europe later this year. Launched last year, the feature aims to help reduce environmental footprint by suggesting routes that lead to lower fuel consumption.
- Third-party apps will be able to use Google Map’s Live View, an AR-powered feature that lets you precisely navigate and understand your surroundings.
Chrome OS: Better together
Google has announced a bunch of useful features for Chrome OS as part of the new Better Together initiative.
- Fast Pair support is officially coming to Chrome OS, enabling users to pair compatible wireless accessories such as Google Buds to their Chromebook with a single tap.
- Another nifty addition coming to Chrome OS later this year is Camera Roll. You’ll be able to quickly access your recent photos from your phone in the Phone Hub section. From there, you can easily drag and drop these images across apps and the web.
- The Phone Hub is also getting the ability to mirror messaging apps from your Android phone to your Chromebook.
- Google is also working on a new app discovery surface to make it easier to find “the best apps for your Chromebook.”
Multisearch: A smarter search experience
Last month, Google announced a new Google Search feature called Multisearch, allowing users to use photos and text simultaneously for a search query. Now the feature is picking up a new trick: Near me. When you’re Multisearching with an image and text, simply add “near me” to your query to quickly lookup local restaurants and shops.
Android Auto’s big redesign is coming soon
It’s no secret that Google has been working on a brand new design for Android Auto for some time now. At Google I/O 2022, Google confirmed that its smart driving app will be getting a new split UI later this summer. The new design will provide quick and easier access to navigation, media, and your communication apps. It will also provide contextual suggestions to respond to messages and calls with minimal distractions.
Other notable announcements from Google I/O 2022
- Google Pay is finally getting virtual cards, providing an additional security layer by replacing your 16-digit card number and CVV code with a unique number.
- In addition, Google Pay is also improving card ownership verification by introducing one-time-passcodes and in-line tokenization to protect users from fraud.
- Magic Eraser, which debuted on the Pixel 6 series last year, is getting a new update, enabling users to change the color of distracting objects in a photo.
- After updating the Google Pixel’s camera to better represent diverse skin tones, Google is implementing a new skin tone scale in Google Search and Photos to be more inclusive of people of color.
- Google is working on a new version of its conversational AI model, LaMDA 2, and users will be able to try out its new capabilities using an app called AI Test Kitchen.
- Google and Samsung have teamed up to launch Health Connect, a new unified platform and API that aims to reduce fragmentation and simplify data sharing between fitness and health apps.
- Google Assistant has gained support for 24 new languages, including Assamese, Bhojpuri, Kurdish, Sanskrit, Guarani, Tsonga, and Twi.
- Flutter 3 is the latest version of Google’s cross-platform app development kit, and it adds support for macOS and Linux. The newest version brings notable improvements like support for Material Design 3, better Firebase integration, and some Dart-specific changes. Check out the full post here.
- Firebase App Distribution is graduating to the stable channel, allowing developers to more efficiently test their apps with select users before launch. In addition, it’s also getting some new features such as simplified group access, release auto-delete, and bulk test manager.
- The first Android Studio Electric Eel Canary release is here with features like the ability to preview code changes in real-time in the Compose Preview, new Google Play and Firebase improvements, a resizeable emulator, and more.
- Android Studio Dolphin, on the other hand, is moving to the beta channel. It improves the Wear OS emulator and new development tools like Logcat V2, and new syntax.
- Android 13 Beta 2 for Android TV is now out with the expanded picture-in-picture mode.
- ARCore, Google’s augmented reality platform, is getting the new Geospatial API, which uses Google Earth 3D models and the Street View database to let developers build location-based AR experiences.
- Google has introduced the Health Connect API to make it easier for developers to securely access and share fitness and health across Android devices.
- There’s now a Google Home extension for Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code IDE. Developers can accesso tools like Google Assistant Simulator, Cloud Logging, Batch Utterances, and Home Graph Viewer to build new smart home experiences and apps.
That wraps up our Google I/O 2022 recap. Check out Google’s 12-minute video summary of the main keynote from the video linked below.