Google’s annual developer conference has come to a close a few days ago, and here are the top five announcements from Google that we found exciting.

1. New midrange Pixel phones

Photos provided by Google

Clearly, the new Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL garnered most of the attention. Available in Singapore at the SG$659 and SG$779 price points for the 3a and 3a XL respectively, these phones have dropped to just over half the price of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL.

Here’s our quick roundup of the new phones’ specs, but do stay tuned for our in-depth review coming out later this week.

2. Updates on Android Q

I use both iPhone and Android phones, so one of my biggest peeves with Android phones is the inability to swipe on the screen to return to the previous screen.

Photo from Android Headlines

Well, Google has announced some new features for the Android Q Beta that started in March, including the above-mentioned gesture-based navigation system, a system-wide Dark Mode and even better privacy settings for your apps, allowing you to share location with apps that request it only when they’re in use.

3. Faster Google Assistant

Google Assistant is a wonderful AI tool, and the logistics behind it are even more amazing; when you ask a question, a server has to sort through 100GB of AI models before sending the answer back to you. This results in a almost unnoticeable delay, but it’s there.

Now, Google has found a way to compress that 100GB of data into 0.5GB, allowing Google Assistant to load directly from your phone instead of requiring a constant Internet connection. This new version of Google Assistant is said to be available on Pixel phones later in 2019.

In addition, Google Assistant will start rolling out in Simplified Chinese to Android phones running Lollipop and above today, while iPhones will get this functionality in the coming weeks. To access Google Assistant in Simplified Chinese, set your device language to Simplified Chinese and make sure the operating system has been updated to the latest version.

4. Additional privacy for Google Maps and more

Photo provided by Google

Doubling up on their commitment to privacy for users, Google also announced the ability to go into “incognito mode” in Google Maps, meaning places you search for won’t be added to your search history or account. This feature rolls out to Google Maps, YouTube and Google Search later in 2019.

Additionally, Google is introducing a setting that will allow users to automatically delete old location data and searches on Google apps like the Play Store. Users can choose between keeping data that is three months old, or 18 months old, and data older than the option picked will be purged continuously.

5. Even better walking directions

Photo provided by Google

Sometimes, Google Maps can be confusing, especially if your phone doesn’t correctly register the direction you’re facing, resulting in you spinning your phone like a compass in an attempt to figure out whether to turn left or right.

Google has come up with a clearer way to direct users, with the help of Augmented Reality. Hold your phone up and there’ll be big blue arrows superimposed on the real world via Street View on Maps. This feature is already launched on Google Pixel devices, so try it out!