Google Announces Maps and Translate Updates, Android 13, and More

Posted on May 11, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, Google, Smart Home with 7 Comments

Google used its first in-person I/O event in three years to announce an incredible range of products and services. We wrote about the Pixel 6a, Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro smartphones, Pixel Watch, and Pixel Tablet, Flutter 3.0, and some Google Workspace updates earlier. But here’s a quick rundown of some of the other big announcements from the show.

First up is Google Maps, which is getting a new immersive view that will fuse together billions of Street View and aerial images to create a rich, digital model of the world, starting with select cities like Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo later this year, with more cities coming soon.

“Say you’re planning a trip to London and want to figure out the best sights to see and places to eat,” Google vice president Miriam Daniel writes. “With a quick search, you can virtually soar over Westminster to see the neighborhood and stunning architecture of places, like Big Ben, up close. With Google Maps’ helpful information layered on top, you can use the time slider to check out what the area looks like at different times of day and in various weather conditions, and see where the busy spots are. Looking for a spot for lunch? Glide down to street level to explore nearby restaurants and see helpful information, like live busyness and nearby traffic. You can even look inside them to quickly get a feel for the vibe of the place before you book your reservation.”

Google Maps is also getting an enhanced Live View that uses AR to help you find your way around, and the firm says it’s especially helpful when navigating tricky indoor areas, like airports, malls, and train stations. Google is also making this technology available to outside app developers at no cost in the new ARCore Geospatial API.

Google also announced that it is bringing Google Translate to 24 more languages, bringing the total to 133.

“Over 300 million people speak these newly added languages — like Mizo, used by around 800,000 people in the far northeast of India, and Lingala, used by over 45 million people across Central Africa,” Google’s Isaac Caswell explains. “As part of this update, Indigenous languages of the Americas (Quechua, Guarani, and Aymara) and an English dialect (Sierra Leonean Krio) have also been added to Translate for the first time.”

Google also made a great case for the Matter smart home standard at I/O. Coming later this year, Google and Nest products like the original Google Home speaker, Google Mini, Nest Mini, Nest Hub (1st and 2nd gen), Nest Hub Max, Nest Audio, and Nest Wifi will be made compatible with this standard, making setup and pairing easier than ever.

“We’re entering a new era of the smart home built on openness and collaboration — one where you should have no problem using devices from different smart home brands to turn on your lights, warm up your living room, and set your morning alarm. All of them should work together in harmony,” Google’s Michele Turner writes. “Matter, the new smart home industry standard we developed with other leading technology companies, is making this possible whether you’re shopping for or building your own smart home devices.”

As for Android 13, Google delivered the second beta of this system today and revealed more about what we can expect in this release.

“In Android 13, we’re giving you more control over what personal information you share and more detailed control over what files your apps can access,” Google vice president Trystan Upstill explains. “Instead of permitting access to ‘Files and media,’ there are two new categories you can control access to, ‘Photos & videos’ and ‘Music & audio.’ For even more specificity, a new photo picker lets you select the exact photos or videos you want to grant access to, without needing to share your entire media library with an app.”

Google is also requiring apps to get permission before triggering notifications, and it is reducing the number of apps that require your location. It is adding more Material You color effects throughout the system, and extending the color theming of app icons beyond Google’s apps: starting with Pixel devices, you’ll be able to turn on the “Themed icons” toggle in your settings to have all supported apps also match your phone’s colors.

Android 13 will also expand on the tablet work that Google first offered in Android 12L by introducing improved multitasking capabilities for tablets via an updated taskbar that will let users switch between a single tablet view and a split screen. “Android 13 has much more in store, including features that shape modern standards for audio and video like HDR video, Spatial Audio, and Bluetooth Low Energy Audio,” the company adds.

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Comments (7)

7 responses to “Google Announces Maps and Translate Updates, Android 13, and More”

  1. djross95

    Android isn't perfect by any means, but these announcements make iOS look more than a little bit stale and out-of-date. I'm particularly excited about the Pixel 7 !

    • will

      Since iOS7 there has not been much in the way of UI changes to iOS, and I agree it is time for some changes to happen. It does not need to be a whole new UI, but new elements that improve what is there.

    • dcdevito

      How so exactly? I'm not an apple homer, just curious why you say that? In terms of UI, I can see where you are coming from. But otherwise I don't agree at all.

  2. geoff

    Google.

    Collecting more and more data about you, while simultaneously adding new 'controls' which prevent any other company from doing the same thing.

    That's how a monopoly functions.

    • Donte

      Apple spies on you just as much and shares/sells you data to "third party" sources if you use their products.


      Go to YouTube, search for "Apple is Terrible for your Privacy" by The Hated One. Learn something about Apple and its privacy BS.


      They are no different at the end of the day. Both spy on you for $$$ for many reasons. It comes down to what product works best for you. Google maps is still way better than Apple Maps. Apple maps is better these days for sure, but it took me to a closed freeway a few months ago in Florida while I was trying to get to the airport to leave. I then opened Google maps on my iPhone and it correctly showed the freeway was closed and got me to the airport. Google maps is my default.....again.

  3. geoff

    I'm not defending Apple at all.

    I currently have an Android phone, and in fact I don't currently have *any* Apple devices at all - at home (where I buy tech for 4 people) or at work (where I use what the boss provides). And I've been operating that way for a few years. I'm absolutely not criticizing Google as a backhanded boost for Apple. I'm criticizing Google because they're evil.


    And I might be doing it wrong, but . . .

    I just use the maps capability inbuilt into the entertainment system of my (Subaru) car. That seems very easy, and it works well enough that I've never bothered trying to do it any other way.

    Doesn't everyone do that?

    • Donte

      I have maps/navigation in my 2014 Silverado. My Radio was part of some recall and in 2020 I got a whole new version, including the updated maps for the navigation, which greatly improved the data for sure and I believe the CPU is faster as many features are snappier now. I think it runs on QNX, which is either a Unix or Linux like OS used by cars and other stuff.


      That said both Apple maps and Google maps are 1000% better in soooooo many ways. Not to mention just plain faster to operate. Even using Siri or Hey Google they are faster than my in dash system, which wont allow me to put in a destination unless I am in park, then i have to type with one finger.


      Google no more or less evil than Apple. Apple just has a massive marketing campaign around how they are better for your privacy which is complete BS, but the aura of all things Apple fools so many. That and Google has probably gotten a worse rap about data collection than others.