May 26, 2021

Google I/O announcements: What’s new for Android?

4 min
At Google’s I/O this year, they shared news about a wide range of products and services, which are hoped to make their customers lives easier

Last week Google held its annual Google I/O, where the company announces new hardware, software, and various updates for its existing apps and services. After missing last year’s event due to COVID-19, this year it was delivered entirely remote and free for everyone. 

We take a look at some of the new features for Android that were announced. 

Design change 

According to Google Android 12 includes the biggest design change since 2014. They have rethought the entire experience, from the different colours to shapes, light, and motion, and made it easier to access some of the most used features:

  • To invoke Google Assistant wherever you are, long press the power button.
  • Swipe down to view your new notification shade, an at-a-glance view of all your app notifications in one place.
  • And to make it easier to access everything you need, Google Pay and Device Controls have been added to your customisable quick settings.

Managing privacy settings 

Google has launched a new Privacy Dashboard, giving you easy access to your permissions settings, visibility into what data is being accessed, and the ability to cancel permissions on the spot. New indicators let you know when apps are using the microphone and camera, as well as a way to shut off that access if you want to. 

Changing the channel

Google is building remote-control features directly into the Android phone. If you need to enter a long password to log into one of your streaming services subscriptions, you can save time and use your phone’s keyboard to enter the text. This built-in remote control will be compatible with devices powered by Android TV OS, including Google TV, and it’ll roll out later this year.

Unlock your car with your phone 

Google is working with car manufacturers to develop a new digital car key in Android 12. This feature will enable you to use your phone to lock, unlock and even start your car — and in some cases, you won’t even need to take it out of your pocket. And because it’s digital, you’ll also be able to securely and remotely share your car key with friends and family if needed.

Understand more about your Search results

Checking how credible a source is, is extremely important, especially if you aren’t familiar with the website. The About This Result feature in Google Search provides details about a website before you visit it, including its description, when it was first indexed and whether your connection to the site is secure. This month, Google is starting to rolling out About This Result to all English results worldwide, with more languages to come.

Google Lens

Google Lens enables you to search what you see and they are now updating the Translate filter in Lens, making it easy to copy, listen to or search translated text in over 100 languages. 

Do you take screenshots when you’re looking at buying something? Then this feature might be for you! Now when you look at any screenshot in Google Photos, they will prompt you to search the photo with Lens. 

Online shopping

A new feature in Chrome that Google is introducing shows you your open shopping carts when you open a new tab. Also, coming soon, Google will let you link your favorite loyalty programmes from merchants like Sephora to your Google account to show you the best purchase options across Google. 

More detailed views in Maps

If you’re traveling by foot, augmented reality in Live View will show you helpful details about the shops and restaurants around you – including how busy they are, and recent reviews and photos. And if you’re traveling, Live View will tell you where you are relative to your hotel – so you can always find your way back. 

They are updating Maps to show you more relevant information based on what time of day it is and whether you’re traveling. That means we’ll show you things like coffee shops in the morning, and if you’re on holiday, they will make tourist attractions and local landmarks easier to spot. 

Cinematic moments

Often when trying to get the perfect photo, we tend to usually take the same shot multiple times. Using neural networks, Google can take two nearly identical images and fill in the gaps by creating new frames in between. This creates vivid, moving images called Cinematic moments. They achieve this using machine learning (ML), and can automatically generate these moments and bring them to your Recent Highlights. 


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Jun 18, 2021

Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR

3 min
Racing fans can expect the ultimate virtual experience as a result of the partnership with Microsoft and NASCAR

Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).

These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack. 

“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”

“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”

“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR

  • Empower employees productivity and collaboration
  • Improve fan engagement and experience
  • Improve environment security and IT productivity
  • Improve racing operations


Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.

“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”

“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives. 

“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.

Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”

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