Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai officially kicked off Google I/O 2016 on Thursday morning, bringing forth a vision for what is planned for the year to come. If you have missed on Google’s latest news on I/O this year, here is a quick recap:
1. Google Assistant Gets More Chatty and Smarter
Google I/O 2016 initiated by showing off the next-generation Google Assistant, which now appears more like a chatting app than search-based Google Now. The powerful and intuitive search assistant will not only provide specific search results, but will also provide netter answers to follow up questions. Put a query on Google Assistant and get an answer followed by additional questions as Google readily picks up the conversation and keep offering relevant or correct answers. Google Assistant also comes in-built in Allo, acting as a chat bot that picks up words from your chats and provides suggestions; say for instance a coffee shop that you are talking about.
2. Google Home – A Smart Speaker for Your Smart Home
Google announced its newest home assistant called Google Home, a smart speaker with ‘always-listening’ microphones that integrate into a wide spectrum of services. Google Home will function and execute commands similar to Amazon Echo. It has built-in Google Assistant technology that makes sense of queries. It is built on Chromecast standard, which allows it to push media to other Cast-compatible screens and speakers, integrate with services like Spotify, and change lighting or temperature through Nest devices. Home’s API isn’t yet available to developers, but integrations with outside services such as Echo will be possible when the platform is built.
3. Google Daydream – Virtual Reality at its Best
Google’s new Virtual Reality platform is called Daydream. It is an optimized VR platform that standardizes mobile-based virtual reality experience. It encompasses both hardware and software, wherein Google is building a reference design for Virtual Reality headset and controller. All these will be available on sale beginning late summer.
4. Messaging Redefined with Allo
Google I/O 2016 witnessed introduction of Allo, an all-new messaging app that is powered by Google Assistant built-in. This summer, the yet-to-be smartest messenger app will be available on both iOS and Android. An interesting feature of Allo is Whisper/Shout that changes the size of the text you send using a slider, helping you communicate the volume. Want to yell out something? Enlarge the text with the slider rather than using caps. Whisper something? Shrink the text down using the same slider. The Google Assistant search bot lets you type any question and get an answer without leaving the chat.
You can also encrypt chats on Allo as well as chat in incognito mode with end-to-end encryption.
5. Introducing Duo – Google’s Competitor for FaceTime
Google is backing up Allo with another messaging app called Duo. The video chatting app presents a mix of FaceTime and iMessage, but is completely dedicated to video-only experience. The best thing about Duo is that it will be super simple to use. When the app opens, it will provide you a selfie-cam video preview, which is important for ‘Knock Knock’ feature to allow the person you are calling to have a video preview of you before they answer. Duo is mobile-only and tied to your phone number. Here, FaceTime will have a big advantage, but who cares! Most video messaging happens on Smartphones, right? Like Allo, Duo will also be available on both iOS and Android this summer.
6. Android N Comes with Powerful Features
Google I/O 2016 has seen Google’s next big mobile software release – Android N. Significant graphics and performance improvement is a major part of Android N as well as it has introduced file-based encryption rather than block-based encryption. Thus, it is more secure than its earlier versions. Adding to it, Android N will download and install system updates automatically. It will automatically remove apps from the mobile’s User Interface when it determines that the app is no longer needed. The window management framework has also been redesigned, supporting both picture-in-picture and split-screen apps. The latest Android N version will also support Unicode 9 emoji, with support for all skin tones.
7. Android Wear 2.0 Expected to Ride Smooth
With Android Wear 2.0 version, Google strives to give its wearable platform a big shot. It will now be able to work independently of a Smartphone. Thus, apps will not need a connected mobile device to function. Even if the phone is switched off or left behind, apps will continue to function and even communicate as long as the wearable device is connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or cellular. Google has also added two input methods – a handwriting recognition mode and a little swipe-style keyboard.
8. Android Instant Apps
The newest and innovative Android Instant Apps let you access your apps from anywhere without having to install them. It will help you run Android apps as seamlessly and conveniently as loading a web page. It is also compatible to Android Jelly Bean.
9. Bringing to You the Latest Version of Xiaomi Mi Box
At its I/O, Google also announced its latest Android TV devices, none other than the Xiaomi-built Mi Box. A new version of Mi Box is announced that runs Android TV and supports 4K. It will be shipped to the US. Google has also announced other partners pertaining to Android TV, including Sony Bravia and RCA, which will also run Android TV.
10. Meet Google’s VR Headset
Google’s I/O 2016 put an end to all rumors surrounding its very own Virtual Reality Headset, showcasing a reference design of the product that looks more like a cordless and smaller Oculus Rift. However, it is expected that it will be more sophisticated and efficient than Cardboard, and more accessible and cost-effective than Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
Messaging, Virtual Reality, and Smart Assistants are three of the hottest segments of technology that Google has put most thrust upon, though seeing through these products won’t be as easy as it seems. The demos on Google I/O 2016 were impressive, but leave behind several questions, the answers to which will only be available once we have these products in hand. Until then, let’s wait and watch!