Google’s annual I/O developers conference is one of the keenly followed events in the tech calendar, and 2017’s edition did not disappoint. At Google’s 2017 I/O keynote CEO Sundar Pichai introduced new products and shared his vision about the company’s “AI-first” world.
From revealing more about Android O to Android Go to Google Home, this year’s I/O demonstrated Google’s strength as a software powerhouse. Here are key announcements of the conference, and how Google is making more user friendly products with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).
Android O and Android Go
Back in March, Google released the first developer preview of Android O, and on Wednesday we learned about new features that will be coming to the latest mobile operating system. During the keynote, Notification Dots, Google Play Protect, Smart Text Selection, and much more were announced. A new Android O beta is available for download today.
Android One is history now, and Google has learned from its past mistakes. Instead of collaborating with smartphone makers to build a low-cost hardware, Google will offer a lightweight version of Android O. This will essentially allow developers and hardware manufacturers to make cheaper phones, packing low cost components that will still offer a smooth and fluid user experience. Google said the first smartphone with Android GO will hit the markets only in 2018.
Google Home, which is seen rivaling Amazon’s Echo smart speaker, has a slew of new features. Perhaps the most significant feature is that Home users will be able to make hands-free phone calls, through the device. Amazon recently announced a similar feature, but calling is limited to owners of Echo devices unlike Google which will let users call mobiles, landlines in the US and Canada as well.
Google is also launching a new compelling feature called “proactive assistance”. Home will alert users of upcoming traffic, meetings etc, based on their schedule.
Assistant is also coming to the iPhone for the first time. This is big news itself. In terms of new features, instead of communicating to the Assistant with the voice, you can also type your queries. Google Assistant will also now take advantage of Google Lens, allowing users to take a photo at real world items to get information via Assistant.
Standalone VR headsets coming
Google is working hard to crack the virtual reality market. To make sure it offers a right product to its customers, the search giant announced standalone VR headsets will be available starting later this year. The company has roped in HTC — maker of high-end Vive headset — and PC maker Lenovo to make a standalone Daydream VR headset. these headsets. Google has collaborated with chipmaker Qualcomm to come up with a reference design.
Google is adding a bunch of new features to Photos app. The first among them is Suggested Sharing, which will heavily rely on machine learning to remind you to share photos with people who appear in them. Then there is something called Shared Libraries, which will let users share their entire library with any person.
Google Lens feature is being integrated into Photos as well. So you’ll be able to point your smartphone at real-world objects around you, and instantly view useful information about them. One major feature Google is adding to Google Photos is Photo Books, which basically help compile photo albums that can then be printed in a physical soft cover or hardcover book. The softcover books will cost $9.99, while hardcover will cost $19.99. Photo books will be available on the desktop starting today, and will arrive on iOS and Android next week, but this is limited to US users.
Disclaimer: The author is attending Google I/O at the invite of Google India