Google I/O 2023 was held on May 10. While many of the talks and presentations at I/O are developer focused, the event started, as always, with a flashy keynote address to let us all know what Google's been up to lately. This year, that includes both hardware and software — and, as you might imagine, lots and lots of talk about AI. Here's everything you need to know.
The Pixel 7a is available now
At I/O, Google not only fully revealed its next midrange phone, the Pixel 7a, but also surprise-announced that the phone is available to purchase — not preorder — right now, for $499. The phone shares a lot of DNA with the $600 Pixel 7, including its Tensor G2 chipset, eight gigs of RAM, and design, which is nearly indistinguishable from its more expensive cousin. If you're interested to learn more, we've got a full review for you to check out.
Interestingly, the Pixel 6a will remain on offer at a lower price point: $350.
Google shows off the Pixel Fold
As anticipated, Google showed off its first foldable at I/O this year. The Pixel Fold's got a refreshingly normal-looking 5.8" screen on the outside and a 7.6" display (with some pretty substantial bezels) on the inside. It's running on a Tensor G2 chipset paired with 12 gigs of RAM, and it's impressively IPX8 rated for water resistance.
The Pixel Fold is available for preorder beginning today for a whopping $1,800, and it's expected to ship by June 27. If you want to learn more, we went hands-on with the Pixel Fold at I/O.
The thoroughly leaked Pixel Tablet is fully revealed
After a lot of leaks, Google finally officially unveiled the Google Pixel Tablet. As expected, the device pulls double duty as a tablet and a smart home hub by way of a bundled magnetic dock that both charges the tablet and augments its audio output. It's up for preorder beginning today for $499; it'll be available at retail starting June 20. Check out our I/O hands-on for more.
Gmail will eventually write emails for you
Google's working to release an AI-enhanced version of Gmail's automated reply feature that'll let you enter a short prompt to essentially have the service write your whole email for you. Of course, you'll be able to customize the text Gmail generates. The feature is called Help me write, and while Google didn't give an exact time frame, CEO Sundar Pichai said it's coming "soon."
We got a peek at Android 14 features
Android 14 made several appearances at I/O this year. We actually didn't hear a ton about new features, but we got a peek at some customization options. You'll be able to make snazzy custom wallpapers out of emoji, photos, or even from text prompts — Android will use generative AI to create whatever wallpapers you can dream up.
Android 14 is also getting some iOS-style lock screen customization, with options to change fonts, rearrange visual elements, and more.
Google Maps Immersive View expands
Immersive View is a Google Maps feature that lets you virtually explore certain areas in convincing 3D. The newly announced Immersive View for routes takes that experience a step further, showing not only 3D-recreated environments, but also information about things like transit options and weather in wider swaths of more cities. That said, the feature will still be geographically limited. Google says it intends to roll out Immersive View for routes in 15 cities — Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Florence, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle Tokyo, and Venice — by the end of the year.
Google Bard gains new features, loses waitlist
Google's Bard text generator is still in beta, but at I/O, Google made it clear its AI chatbot is making strides. Soon, Bard will gain new capabilities, including Google Lens integration for image recognition, Google Maps integration to visualize places, and Sheets integration to create detailed spreadsheets with just a text prompt.
Starting today, Bard is available in 180 countries with no waitlist, though only in English. Google says 40 additonal languages are coming eventually. There's also a new dark theme — nice.
There's a new Google Labs hub
At I/O, Google launched a new hub for its many, many AI experiments. The hub is already live at labs.withgoogle.com, where you can browse and join waitlists for various new experimental initiatives, including upcoming generative AI features in Search.
Google Photos is getting a new Magic Editor
Google Photos is getting an AI-assisted editing boost. The new Magic Editor uses machine learning techniques to make previously difficult photo editing tasks a breeze. You can do things like long press on a person to cut them out of the background and reposition them in the frame, or recreate parts of objects that were outside the frame when you took your photo. Magic Editor is expected to launch later this year.
AI comes to Google Search
AI has become a big part of Microsoft's Bing search engine, so it was only a matter of time until Google followed suit. Accordingly, Google has announced that Bard will be integrated into Search, letting Google provide natural language summaries of search results and offer a "conversational mode" where you can ask follow-up questions about results. US residents can sign up to join a waitlist to try the new Bard search experience here.
...And to the Play Store
There's a suite of new AI-powered features coming soon to the Google Play Store. Soon, app listings will show an AI-generated review summary that aims to sum up reviewer sentiments in just a few words, saving you the hassle of actually reading user reviews. There's also a developer-focused tool that'll help devs generate text for app listings with minimal effort that's rolling out in the Developer Console beginning today.
Android gets a boost in cars
Android Automotive OS — Google's in-car software that operates entirely in your vehicle, without relying on your phone to do the lifting — is picking up quite a few improvements. Navigation apps will be able to display directions on instrument cluster screens, directly in front of the driver; multiple in-car screens will be able to display multiple different apps; and Waze is coming to Automotive OS, complete with EV charging location support. That's not all, either: there were a ton of car-related announcements. Check out our full write-up for more.
New Google TV developer tools debut
As fun as Google I/O may be for hobbyist spectators, it's also an event for developers. To that end, Google announced a new suite of tools for creating Android TV apps in the form of a new Compose for TV development toolkit. The kit will use AI to create app UIs from scratch based on natural language inputs. As Google describes it, you'll simply "Describe your UI, and Compose takes care of the rest."
Google introduces new security features
Google launched a bunch of promising new security features at I/O this year, including the ability to check if your Gmail ID is circulating in any unsavory corners of the web; if it is, Google will recommend appropriate action you can take to protect yourself. This perk was previously exclusive to Google One subscribers, but is
Unlike previous years, Google I/O 2023 was a one-day event. Still, from Android 14 to new Pixel hardware to AI everything, there's a lot to get excited about. It's a good time to be an Android fan.