Google I/O 2021 Includes New APIs for WearOS, Augmented Reality, and Maps

Google this week has been hosting a virtual version of the company’s annual developer conference: Google I/O. The first two days have included updates on WearOS, the Google Maps Platform, and Android’s augmented reality platform. This post will provide an overview of these updates and changes to associate APIs. 


The updates to WearOS, which came as a part of the broader Android 12 update, includes the announcement of an upcoming joint effort with Samsung to develop new wearables and integrate Wear OS with Samsung’s Tizen platform. To support this joint effort, Google has announced a new Jetpack Tiles API to allow developers to create tiles for all devices in the ecosystem.

Augmented Reality

This year’s conference has seen additions to Google’s ARCore, the company’s augmented reality platform, including a new Raw Depth API that Builds upon Google’s Depth API offering. The Raw Depth API generates depth maps that help developers perform depth estimates at a pixel level. ARCore also adds a new Recording and Playback API that provides a much simpler process for testing augmented reality programs. Developers can now use the API to record an environment once, including all relevant depth data, and then test regularly off this recording, rather than relying on their actual surroundings. 

Google Maps

The Maps JavaScript API receives several new WebGL-powered features including Tilt and Rotation, WebGL Overlay View, and vector mapping. WebGL Overlay View is a headline feature that Google notes will “provide a fundamentally new way to build mapping experiences by giving you direct hooks into the lifecycle of the WebGL rendering context we use to render the vector map.” Using the new feature developers can now render two and three-dimensional objects directly on the basemap. 

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: Google Maps Platform Announced Low-Code Development Platform for Location-Based Experiences