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Exploring the New Features Unveiled at Google I/O 2023 for Android

The 2023 Google I/O conference has come and gone, and as always, there’s a lot to unpack. Android users in particular have reason to be excited, as Google announced some exciting updates to the world’s most popular mobile operating system. From new features to major design changes, there’s a lot to uncover. So, without further ado, let’s dive into what’s new in Android from the 2023 Google I/O conference.

Meet the Perficient Android Development Experts

Jeff Small is the Director of  Mobile Solutions group. Jeff has 15+ years of experience building successful mobile products in Android and iOS.

Garrett Manley is a Lead Technical Consultant in Perficient’s Mobile Solutions group and has over 8 years of experience in mobile development. He is an expert in cross-platform application development, he specializes in enterprise mobile applications and has a comprehensive understanding of the full mobile development lifecycle. With a passion for front-end technologies and an eye for design, Garrett ensures seamless integration of aesthetics and functionality in his projects.

Vipul Panchal is a Senior Technical Architect in Perficient’s Mobile Solutions group with 11+ years of experience with cross platform mobile applications for Android and iOS. Vipul helps create a technical vision with his broad range of digital experience in both mobile and web technologies.

Dan Wilkerson is a Senior Mobile Architect in Perficient’s Mobile Solutions group, working across multiple industries. He is passionate about mobile development with 12+ years of experience developing mobile applications for iOS and Android.

What are your overall impressions of the new Android features and capabilities presented in the keynote?

Jeff: My biggest takeaway from this year’s Google I/O was that Google is integrating generative AI and Machine Learning into basically all of their products. You can already see the effect Chat GPT’s popularity is having on these tech companies. It’s becoming a race to make sure everything has AI and ML embedded in some way.

Dan: As someone who works with a lot of clients in the automotive industry, I was very interested in the updates to Android Auto. It’s hard not to compare it with CarPlay, but with the recently announced updates, they are getting very close to offering the same features and capabilities. Big picture, I think we are going to see a lot more vehicle data that users will be interacting with.

Vipul: I was excited to see the improved debugging capabilities with Android 14 ML kit. If I’m in React Native, or even previous versions of native Android, there are limitations to what I can do, and I am relying heavily on Javascript. With this update, Android 14 supports Jetpack and significantly increases debugging capabilities for native development.

Garrett: What stood out to me first, and foremost, was the AI they are implementing into all of their feature sets and their emphasis on responsibility around AI tools. We’ve seen these questions come up with OpenAi, and Google has been able to provide a plan on how they will address these very real concerns regarding AI. Also their investment in cross-platform development, with Jetpack compose they are really pushing a whole new development stack to modernize the Android apps.

How do you think these new features will impact your development process?

Garrett: A big thing we are seeing with Android is they are really leaning into this open screen world across their devices and they’re unifying those APIs for handling those UI layouts across screens. They’ve unified those APIs and built new ones in compose to make those layouts available and easier to work with.

Jeff: I’m excited to see the impact of generative artificial intelligence on developer support. The new AI-powered features and capabilities of developer tools should usher in a new era of speed, reliability and quality of code among developers.

Vipul: Two of the new changes caught my eye. With the new credential manager feature, a user can now use the passkeys to authenticate into the app. It will also support other passkey providers and developers will have to invest in supporting this new capability along with the existing password mechanism. App developers will also have to adjust the new media access permissions that were displayed in developer preview.

Dan: I think the AI tools embedded in the IDE are going to be huge boost in productivity in all facets of development, testing, and deployment.

Are you anticipating any challenges or drawbacks to these new features?

Vipul: There’s a new feature where you can duplicate an app on your device so that two people can log in and use their version of the app with two separate instances of the application environment where users can be authenticated. This could be challenging for developers to manage.

Dan: I do not anticipate significant challenges or drawbacks; however, there will certainly be some pain-points as teams adapt to the new tools and modified workflows.

In your opinion, which industry will benefit the most from these updates?

Jeff: For me, it’s healthcare and mHealth. They gave an example of a new glucose monitoring capability in Android Health and I was just blown away by the idea that you could have a glucose monitoring device integrated with Android Health that connects to your MyFitness Pal that would be able to track and manage glucose levels in conjunction with your diet. We are going to continue to see multiple apps connected to Android Health through improved APIs sharing data and creating a more holistic overview of personal health.

Dan: I have to say I’m super excited about the new automotive capabilities and I think that’s going to have a huge impact on the industry. We are trending toward having a lot more communication in your car and a lot more control over the vehicles. Google has upped the ante to compete with Apple and I think that will be huge for the industry.

Vipul: Google has made a big investment in AI, and I think we are going to see that have a huge impact on manufacturing. With manufacturing, you’re going to see more companies using the improved ML kit for scanning parts and managing inventory, like we are already seeing with some retail companies, helping to increase efficiency.

Garrett: I also think healthcare will see the biggest impact, but with peripheral devices. There are a lot of capabilities that were talked about here that will allow you to get snippets of data that used to be too risky to share outside of a direct app. So there’s going to be a lot more interoperability that allows for more innovation in the device market.

How do you think these new features compare to updates from other operating systems?

Jeff: I think that there is greater parity now between mobile operating system experiences. The shared experiences across devices, autos, phones, and wearables are becoming more and more “standardized’ as users leverage experiences across devices and platforms. This is great for users, and I believe it’ll lead to greater and faster adoption across these experiences. Health management, for instance, I believe will grow by leaps and bounds because of this rise in parity of experience.

Vipul: New credential manager, the BARD API and other generated AI improvements are significant, and they stand out directly compared to others.

Dan: There are a lot of similarities between the features announced by Google and those existing or recently announced by Apple.  I think the striking difference for me is Google going all-in on the integration of AI across the board.

In Conclusion

All in all, the 2023 Google I/O conference brought some major changes and updates to the Android ecosystem. We saw new features such as the customizable gesture controls and the improved split-screen mode, as well as major design updates such as the new Material You design language. Google also announced new privacy features to give users more control over their data and an expansion of the Android Auto experience to more countries. With these updates, Android continues to evolve and improve making it an even more powerful and user-friendly mobile operating system. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Android, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on any new developments.

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Jeff Small, Director, Mobile Solutions

Jeff Small is an experienced mobile solutions leader that understands the connection between experience and product success. He is a Director in the Mobile and Modern Web Solutions group for Perficient.

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