At the first-ever virtual Google I/O, Alphabet Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai talked about news on Workspace, quantum computing and privacy needs.
The keynote for Google I/O was live streamed from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California on Tuesday, and Google executives touched on everything from new collaboration features in Workspace, to quantum computing, to improved privacy controls. The speakers were on round stages in the outdoor spaces at Google’s headquarters and he audience sat in socially distanced chairs grouped around the stage in the surrounding green space. The video introduction of the event showed a montage of crowds of people at past events including a cameo of a young Pinchai.
Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the keynote with an announcement about the new collaboration tool for Workspace: Smart Canvas.
Javier Soltero, general manager and vice president of Google Workspace, announced the Workspace news at the event. Soltero said the changes will transform a Google doc from a digital piece of paper to a collaboration platform that is always up to date and has built-in tools for keeping distributed teams connected.
Quantum computing at Google
Pinchai also discussed Google’s work with quantum computing, describing the technology as the best chance to understand the natural world. He said that the company’s current focus is to build an error-corrected qubit.
Actor Michael Pena toured Google’s quantum campus with Google’s lead quantum engineer Eric Lucero. Lucero showed off the “qubit fridge” and other parts of the lab which included a painting that he described as an homage to mother nature because quantum is the language of nature. Pena’s job was to explain quantum computing to the average viewer, describing qubits as smart but picky about work environments and Google’s research as wrapping qubits in a Bob Ross blanket of love and keeping them there until they can teach us to think like the Earth.
Lucero said now that the company has moved beyond classical computing and described the next milestone as building an error-corrected logical qubit and then building an error-corrected quantum computer.
New privacy features for Google accounts
In addition to highlighting the company’s lofty research goals, executives also talked about work that affects the daily lives of users as well: changes to privacy controls. Jen Fitzpatrick,senior vice president for Google Maps, said the company is working toward a password-free future by improving phone-based authentication.
“We want to free everyone from password pain,” she said.
Fitzpatrick said Google has made these improvements to the company’s password manager:
- Import passwords saved in other password managers
- Provide a deeper integration across Chrome and Android
- Provide an automatic password alert in case of a breach
- Provide a new Chrome feature to make it easier to navigate to site and update a compromised password
Fitzgerald also announced two other privacy changes:
- Easier navigation to delete recent search history from Google account
- Make it easier to turn off location history in a user’s timeline
- Create locked folders to allows users to save certain privately and keep the images out of the general photo roll
The three-day event will run through May 20, and it includes a series of workshops, meetups and keynotes. It’s free to attend for anyone who wants to register.