Google just revealed 3 new features. Here’s everything you need to know

May 18, 2021, 10:17 PM UTC

Google revealed upgrades to its photo service, Android operating system, and artificial intelligence on Tuesday at its annual I/O developer conference.

This year’s event, hosted virtually from the company’s Mountain View, Calif. campus, focused on everything from the future of work to privacy controls to the company’s plans to operate on carbon-free energy. 

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company, opened the conference by acknowledging the impact of the coronavirus on the world, including in countries currently hit the hardest like India and Brazil. He also suggested that tech will continue to serve an important role during the pandemic. 

“I/O has always been a celebration of technology and its ability to improve lives,” Pichai said. “I remain optimistic that technology can help us address the challenges we face together.”

Here are three of Google’s key announcements on Tuesday.

New photo features 

Google Photos will soon have new features including letting users animate their photos if they take more than one shot of the same thing. With the help of machine learning, Google will be able to fill the gaps between the missing frames.

Users will also be able to choose what memories—photos and videos that Google resurfaces as highlights—they don’t want to see. For example, users could tell the service not to resurface images of their former spouses or significant others by changing the setting on those photos.

Additionally, Google debuted a password-protected folder for users who want to keep photos private on their device, even if a friend or family member gets ahold of it. The photos in that folder won’t show up in any other parts of Google Photos. The feature will debut on Google Pixel phones and later on other Android devices.

Finally, Google said it is working to improve the cameras on Google devices to better represent dark skin tones and curly hair. Industry wide, mobile device cameras have often struggled to adjust the lighting, color, and focus to represent people of color and their hair as well as they do for lighter-skinned people. 

Digital car keys

Google is introducing a digital car key, that lets users lock, unlock, and start their cars from their phones. The feature will also let users remotely share their digital car keys with others.

The digital car key, which relies on near-field communication technology, is to debut in the fall on some Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy smartphones. Google said it’s also working with BMW and other carmakers, though it didn’t specify which ones, to bring the capability to their upcoming cars. 

Last year, Apple released its version of the digital car key, called, well, CarKey. Apple users can store their CarKey in their Apple wallets on their iPhone or Apple Watch, and share the keys with up to five other people.

Skin diagnostic tool

Google announced a new tool powered by artificial intelligence that aims to help people connect to information about common skin ailments. People can use their phones to photograph their skin conditions, and then navigate to the web-based tool to learn more. The tool will ask users to take three photos from different angles and then answer a set of questions. Artificial intelligence then analyzes data from a collection of 288 skin conditions to surface possible matches.

The tool, which Google said is not a replacement for professional medical advice, is unreleased. But it has passed clinical validation in the European Union, Google said.

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