Insights

Our 2021 Google I/O round-up, straight from the experts at Apadmi

From the 18th to the 20th of May, Google held its highly anticipated Google I/O event.

Google I/O is an annual live event that features several exciting updates, this year included an Android 12 preview, the introduction of Material You and big changes to Wear OS. 

So to start with, what did we learn?  

Well, surprisingly Google held back on showing us any new consumer hardware/products (in previous years we’ve been treated to a teaser of the new Pixel). However, this doesn’t mean the event wasn’t as excellent as ever and focused on privacy, personalisation and security.

Android 12

For Android 12, Google has announced ‘Material You’, a brand new design system that will allow the user to personalise and redesign their entire Android experience. 

‘Material You’ allows the user to create colour palettes that matches your mood from your wallpaper, the colour palette will then redesign your UI and flow throughout your phone home screen with offering even more personalisation for android users

Additionally, ‘Material You’ introduces new security features, such as a light indicator when your camera or microphone is being used, plus a UI process that automatically gives you response ideas to your latest message.

“Material You provides an opportunity for users to make deeper emotional connections with their apps. The experience becomes much more rewarding because the user has more control and customisation over the colour palettes within their apps and widgets. This could be a bit of a headache for brands who want to maintain control over their colours. Overall we’re really excited by where this could go!”

Kiran Seahra, Digital Designer.

Widgets

After what seems like an age since we first met Google’s widgets, we’re soon to see a design overhaul that competes with iOS’ expansive offering. We’re expecting to see big changes outlining how widgets are utilised and customised at the disposal of each android user. 

“I'm very happy to see improvements to some neglected parts of the system, such as widgets, where they now feel on-par with iOS rather than stuck 5 years in the past. I look forward to implementing it in apps when the Material libraries reach stable in the autumn.”

Kieron Quinn, Software Developer.

Smart Canvas

After over a year of remote working for the team at Apadmi, it’s safe to say that our teams have put Google Workspace through rigorous use. Their nod to collaborative, remote working with the introduction of the Google Smart Canvas is a welcomed reward for teams navigating the Google Suite. 

We’re soon to see remote collaboration rise to the next level as virtual meetings are brought to life.  Thanks to Smart Canvas, users will soon be able to be on a video call with their team whilst working on the same shared document bringing in other file types from Slides, Sheets and Drive. 

“The prospect of having multiple Google tools into one place, via the Google Smart Canvas will really help to ensure our project planning and update meetings are as efficient as possible. The days of clicking around 20 different tabs to find plans, actions, and notes during a meeting will be a thing of the past! I can’t wait for the team meetings with this in place”

Annie Kearns, Project Manager.

Wear OS

Google announced the news of their latest partnership with Samsung, alongside their growth outline for Fitbit. With advanced health-tracking, app integration and personable data interpretations, our developers and systems integration experts are excited to see how the in-app experience will flourish. 

“It's nice to see Wear(OS) finally get some love, as it had stagnated to the point of not being a viable option (in my opinion) vs Tizen, so having Samsung and Google work together on a unification of the two is an almost ideal scenario. The new Tile APIs take one of my favourite features from Tizen and adds it to Wear, which will certainly make switching a better experience, as well as making development easier.”

Kieron Quinn, Software Developer.

Firebase

Google also announced a number of updates to Firebase at I/O, including improvements to Crashlytics, Performance Manager and Remote Config. Many of our clients are amongst the 3 million apps that use Firebase to ensure that their apps are running efficiently and their users remain engaged. 

“We use Firebase Remote Config to run A/B tests in our apps and send personalised information to specific user groups. The great thing about Remote Config is not having to release an update each time you want to make a change and so we can run sophisticated optimisation campaigns for our clients without heavily impacting the development process. Google’s announcement to launch a new feature that will automatically personalise app experiences using Machine Learning sounds really impressive and it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to chatting to our clients about in the coming weeks."

Emma Allison, Head Of Product Marketing.

Project Starline

During the keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Google has been working quietly in the background for several years on ‘Project Starline’. 

This is Google’s answer to two-way communication from a distance by making you feel as if the other person is sitting right across from you using 3D technology.

Google AI

Later this year, the technology for a ‘dermatology assistant tool’ should be launching. This tool could help provide doctors with more of a tailored treatment plan for patients with cancer. 

After three years in the making, it has officially been awarded a CE mark for use as a medical tool in Europe. With our work with the NHS here at Apadmi, we recognise how amazing this is and being brought to the medical field could potentially help many doctors and future patients.

AR Markers

For our final highlight of Google I/O, we’re finishing off with is the enhancement of AR markers within Google Maps. These tappable Street View bubbles have been designed with users in mind so they can easily gain more information about the places they’re exploring within a user-friendly interface. It highlights information for street-level businesses so they can easily access contact numbers, websites and photos.

As ever, our developers, systems integration experts and designers are eagerly anticipating the launch of these updated features. Google’s suite of tools are at the forefront of our project refinement, development and delivery phases, not to mention our client transformation projects. 

Looking into the future of Android app development in 2021 and beyond, our teams are armed and ready to explore the latest possibilities Google has provided us. 

 

To round up, here’s an open letter from our CTO, Gary Butcher:

“A core message Apple has been pushing for a few years now is their on-device security standards as a thinly veiled jab at Android. Google addressed some of those directly in their keynote to continue the changes from last year(s) (sandboxed file systems, actually reviewing apps!). Good to see Jetpack getting the love it deserves on stage as well because one thing customers expect is an OS paradigm that follows them from app to app – We really don’t want to redesign the wheel for each app. Let’s get to delivering value in the service.

On the watch – very interesting to see Samsung getting name-checked for the watch partnership. The cynic in me doubts what Tizen actually brings to the mix but the fact these two are ganging up against Apple will hopefully introduce some more competition in that market. I know a handful of Android fanboys wanting the equivalent of Apple Watch and the only real winner here will be the consumer.

What was interesting to see is the continual growth of Chromebooks and the parallels between iOS / macOS. We’re seeing two big players in ecosystem building (is that a thing??) looking to use voice, context and direct user interaction to carry experiences beyond the device in front of you. TV, cars, fridge, kettle all going to be interested in what you’re up to now.

Stripe extension and personalisation addition to Firebase we have clients that are looking for a low code, lightweight, managed backend and Firebase continues to show it’s more than a PoC or Alpha service – a label they have found difficult to shake.

I can’t wait to hear from the team on what is coming out of the deep dive sessions”

Gary Butcher, Chief Technology Officer

Eager for more?

If you're thinking about developing a new Android app or you want to know more about the latest Google technologies, get in touch with our team today.
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