the opening speech Today’s Google I/O developer conference keynote was packed with announcements of new AI-powered devices and features coming to familiar software tools. The company leaned heavily into generative computing, loudly characterizing itself as a leader for decades in AI technology. It also gleefully put AI at the forefront of nearly every service and device it operates, including the new Pixel phones and tablets it unveiled today.
Here are all the Google announcements from I/O 2023.
The Pixel Fold arrives
Google’s first foldable phone, the pixel fold, it’s here and it costs a whopping $1,799. It’s thinner than Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold4 and has a full, wide front-facing display that offers an almost normal smartphone experience. Flip it open and you get a 7.6-inch OLED screen for watching movies, multitasking, or reading. We have a hands-on report where you can read more about the Fold. Pre-orders are available now, if you bite, Google is releasing a free Pixel Watch, but it ships in June.
There is also a Pixel tablet
Announced at Google I/O last year, the Pixel Tablet is finally a reality. Well almost-pre-orders are live today (only in 11 countries), and goes on sale on June 20, so we will still have to wait a little longer. This $499 tablet isn’t really meant to be a tablet you take with you on the go. Rather, it sits on a magnetic base (included) when you’re not using it, and this base wirelessly charges the slate and doubles as a speaker (sound quality is reportedly equal to that of a Nest Hub). When docked, it acts like a traditional Google smart speaker, with options to control your smart home devices, and it even has a similar microphone array to pick up your “Hey Google” commands. Chromecast is built in, so you can cast from your phone or laptop.
Whenever you want to use it, just take it out of the dock and it’s a normal Android tablet. Except a little better, because Google has made some strides in improving the tablet experience on Android, with more than 50 Google apps optimized for larger screens. It’s powered by the Tensor G2 chipset and has many of the same software features as other Pixel devices. Unfortunately, there are no other accessories, no stylus or keyboard. You can take it out and use it with Bluetooth accessories, but it’s clear that Google is really envisioning it as a homebody.
Also a low-cost Pixel 7A
Every year, Google announces an A-series version of the flagship Pixel that came before it. This years Pixel 7A It’s a bit more expensive ($499) than last year’s model, but you do get a few more high-end perks like a 90Hz screen refresh rate and wireless charging support. The cameras are brand new too, with a 64-megapixel sensor leading the way. You can read more about it in our review (8/10, WIRED recommends). You can order it right now, and Google is throwing in a free case and $100 for another accessory (like the Pixel Buds A-series) if you buy it today.
Chatbot-style answers are coming to search
Google users in the US will be able to access an experimental version of the company’s web search that incorporates ChatGPT-style text generation. For some queries, AI-generated text will appear above regular links and ads, summarizing information pulled from across the web. A query about the coronation of the new king of Great Britain could be answered with a couple of paragraphs summarizing the event. If asked about electric bikes, Google’s algorithms can list key points from product reviews posted by various websites. WIRED, of course, is one of those websites that posts a lot of product reviews, so we’ll be watching to see how this feature changes how readers find our buying advice.
Android gets an AI boost
Google updates to Android, typically the focus of I/O events in the past, arrived about 80 minutes after the event. As you may have guessed, Google is incorporating even more artificial intelligence features into its mobile operating system. It featured some privacy protection improvements, but it was mostly focused on cosmetic settings. The big setup that Google execs seemed to be excited about was AI wallpapers, which let you change the artistic styles of photos and create moving, interactive backgrounds from images and emoji.
Google is also bringing the generative features of its Bard chatbot directly to Android messaging, with settings that let you ask questions directly in the chat box and adjust the syntax of your messages to accommodate different tones.
Generative AI authoring tools in Workspace
Google is incorporating AI into its Workspace apps, like Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Duet AI for Workspace, as it’s called, can use Google’s generative AI to create job descriptions, write creative stories, or automatically generate spreadsheets to track information. You can also create entire presentations, from suggesting text for slides to instantly generating custom visuals like photos. It seems to be Google’s answer to Microsoft’s. 365 co-pilot, which is the tool that uses some of the company’s generative tools to add productive and creative enhancements to Microsoft’s Office software. Google’s AI-powered updates to its free web-based software suite will be available to consumers soon, the company says.
Behold the magic editor
An update to Google Magic Eraser’s photo editing feature is coming later this year. The tool will now be called Magic Editor, and Google says it’s basically a quick mobile version of Photoshop. Users can change almost every element of a photo, including adjusting the lighting, removing unwanted foreground elements like backpack straps, and even moving the subject of the photo to other parts of the frame.
Google is launching the service as a way to improve photos, but the potential exists to really do any editing to a photo. It’s not hard to imagine this going off the rails, as any photo can easily be adjusted to move people around, change the position of the arms to make it look like the person was touching something they weren’t touching, or even add elements to the frame that were not there in real life. Google hasn’t said whether the doctored photos will be labeled as such, though it did mention that they would be watermarked images that were generated entirely by computers.
matter and smart home
We always seem to be in the cusp of the smart home real and useful, and not annoying. But what will it take to make that expectation a reality? Google is betting that small, incremental improvements will slowly tempt you to bring more connected devices into your home, like the fabric-covered Pixel tablet that doubles as a portable Nest hub with one-touch access to a newly redesigned Google Home app. Other benefits include easier access to Google Home from your Wear OS smartwatch and a new control panel for your home that runs on Android tablets. Google is even—drink—build tools to provide Matter support for iOS users.
Google didn’t spend much time promoting the relatively new Matter smart home standard during the I/O keynote. But he did let us know in briefings that in just a few short weeks, you’ll be able to control Matter devices in the Google Home app from iOS devices. Any family member can access the dashboard or switch profiles. As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them… by placing a Matter sticker on each appliance.
In something of a labored response to Apple’s surprising plans for CarPlay 2 announced in June of last year, Google’s Android Auto team finally have news to share. It didn’t come during the I/O keynote, but it did come in side briefings before the show.
Taking into account the fact that people are sitting in their vehicles with little to do while at charging stations, Android Auto will now support in-car videos, games, and navigation. YouTube will apparently be available on Polestars, which already runs on a Google operating system, in the coming weeks. Games mentioned include Beach buggy racing 2 (can you play using the wheel?), and FRVR Solitaire (yawn). Apple’s version, rather than working alongside existing car software, will supposedly replace it entirely, so this Android Auto update feels “light” by comparison. Still, auto companies will probably be happier with Google’s less aggressive approach here. Android Auto is also working with Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom to enable conference calling, so you can join audio meetings right from your car’s screen. Gaming, web browsing, and conference calling… this isn’t state-of-the-art technology. And it’s worth noting that if you’re sitting down and charging your EV, you can do all of this from your phone anyway. But any improvements to Android Auto are welcome.