Google’s annual developer conference had a surprise thanks to the announcement of affordable versions of the Google Pixel 3. Enter the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL at a cost of $549 CAD and $649 CAD respectively. The 3a is cheaper, but it’s not waterproof and there’s no wireless charging available. Google I/O is a software kind of event, so it was different to see hardware being announced. Can you really tell the difference between a $1200 phone and a $700 one? Maybe, but good news is Google is providing us options.

Google claims you can get up to 30 hours on a single charge with the Pixel 3a. Expect the same rear camera as the flagship Pixel 3, and the 3a also comes with night sight and portrait mode as well as a new time-lapse feature worked in. The biggest seller? Unlimited storage for backed photos and videos. The 3a also has a 3.5 mm audio jack, call screening, Google assistant (speech assistant will be built into the device), an OLED display, and Google says that when you run updates it will help make the phone faster (like it’s supposed to), rather than slower as seen with some competitors. This all falls under the Project Mainline umbrella where updates will occur in the background without the need for rebooting, apparently.


Photos: Google

Flutter toolkit

Google also talked about the Flutter UI toolkit, a 2-year-old platform that can be used not just with mobile but via web, too. This is happening and was previewed. So, things are opening up and as mentioned here this is going to “extend Flutter to support desktop as a target environment, allowing developers to create macOS, Windows, and Linux applications using Flutter.”

Developers will also see improved metrics including data on returning users, automatic change analysis, metric benchmarking and the “ability to aggregate dedupe over periods from hours to quarters,” according to Google’s blog post. The term ‘dedupe’ refers to deleting duplicates of repeated data. Other things mentioned were around peer-to-peer benchmarks as well as market insights, set to roll out in coming months. And Kotlin will be the designated language used for Android apps.

Google Nest Hub Max

Photo: Google

The Google Home Hub is now the Google Nest Hub Max. You can cast video and photos viewable on the 10-inch screen. There’s also a 6.5 megapixel camera that can scan and identify people in the room, auto-frame is there too, and you can do dual video calling. A cool new feature is that you can play or pause content on the screen by simply lifting and lowering your hand as you see fit. The camera and microphone are opt ins, and you can register up to six users. The speaker is said to be better quality and louder than the previous one.The Google Nest Hub Max is priced at at US$229.

Below is the tech specs for Google’s Nest Hub Max.

Photo: Google

Google Drive Mode

Driving mode begins with Google Assistant. Users can say commands as well as receive personalized suggestions and info.

In addition to tech news, there was entertainment. The Flaming Lips debuted a new song called “Strawberry Orange”and played on top of musical fruit

.In other Google news, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai said that there will be privacy features added to Google Maps and other features like auto-delete, allowing for more control over one’s data online. You can manually delete data or have the choice between three months or 18 months of store and delete capabilities. Incognito Mode is being expanded from Google Chrome to Google Maps as well. Cookies will also be getting a reckoning, more so, developers will hold a greater responsibility to show what the cookie or cookies have hold of when it comes to our data and what is being tracked.

“This change will enable users to clear all such cookies while leaving single domain cookies unaffected, preserving user logins and settings.” said Google. “It will also enable browsers to provide clear information about which sites are setting these cookies, so users can make informed choices about how their data is used.”

And finally, this week Google announced over 50 new gender-fluid emojis, available in beta on Pixel phones as of now. We don’t have a Pixel to test, but this is what Fast Company reports them looking like.

Photo: Google