Every year, at its annual developer conference, Google gives us a sneak peak in to whatever has been brewing in its super cool factory. Google I/O 2016 key note revealed a ton of new stuff Google has been working on and here are the ones we are most excited about.
Google Assistant is an upgraded version of Google Now, which is ‘conversational’. You can ask it questions and it understands natural language. This should help Google extend its voice search to other platforms in a more meaningful way, since Google Now feels way too mechanical beyond Android phones. We already know Google is betting big on voice, and Google Assistant will integrate all AI expertise it has built upon in several years. The service is already integrated with Allo and Google Home (more on this later).
Allo Smart Messaging App
Google already has a handful of messaging apps in store, so what makes this one interesting? A LOT.
Google Allo gives you access to Google services and abundant database within the app itself. It also integrates Google’s Smart assistant, which means you can ask the chat bot to fetch any information you need from the aforementioned data. You can also order it to do stuff for you, like booking table at a restaurant.
For security and privacy, all messages are end-to-end encrypted and there is an incognito mode too where chats expire. Another upside is ‘Expression’ as Google puts it. There are stickers, a slider to change size of text for when you are howling, predictions based on past text, suggested stickers and emoji and more.
Also Read: Google’s answer to Apple’s 3D touch delayed!
Besides Allo, Google also talked about Duo which is a simple video calling app with end to end encryption. The start feature here is ‘Knock Knock’, which lets you get a live preview of caller even before you pick the call. Have a look.
Meet Duo, a new way to video call
Google also announced its new VR Platform Daydream which includes certification for phones that adhere to new VR standards, a new VR interface and also handset reference designs (which includes a game controller). This is a big announcement for VR.
Only phones with proper orientation sensors, capable processors and low-latency displays will be Daydream certified, thus improving the quality of VR experience. Daydream certified handsets will start showing up later this year. This is a very important announcement as from now onwards app developers, content creators and equipment manufacturers will have a unified Google platform to work on. This could also be a bad news for Facebook’s Oculus VR standard.
Manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei, Alcatel, ZTE, Xiaomi and Asus are already onboard. Google, however, didn’t announce a standalone VR viewer.
Google also announced a bunch of stuff related to Android N.
- A new Vulkun API is coming, which will help developers make better use of graphics cards.
- New app switcher will remove apps that haven’t been used “in a while” from the recent app list. This doesn’t originate out of performance concerns. Google says this is to facilitate better use of recent apps panel, which shall only list relevant options.
- Android N running phones will auto-update in the background, just like Chromebooks. Once the update is done, you can restart your phone and switch to upgraded software quickly. This is accomplished by segregating storage into online and offline partition. It remains to be seen how much storage this shall require. (Update: This features won’t be supported on existing devices, i.e. ones which get Android N via OTA update)
- Other features include Split screen, safety net to detect malicious apps and file based encryption.
Google Home is cylindrical piece of hardware which includes a white top and speaker base, and will bring Google Assistant to your home. As it is powered by Google Assistant, Google Home listens quietly in the background (multi-room listening), can have conversations with you, and will be able to control your home entertainment system, TV, alarms, Nest products and lights. Sounds familiar? Yes its same concept as Amazon Echo, but will benefit from Google’s might.
After App links and app deep linking, Insta App is the new way Google designed to bring apps even closer. With Insta Apps, you can access and use apps or parts of apps from within other apps.
If it works as advertised, it could have a profound impact on user experience. You would no longer have to download separate apps, and waste data and storage, when all you need the app is for one specific reason. For instance, you could directly avail an app only offer on Amazon without downloading the app.
Android Wear 2.0
Android Wear 2.0 will include many improvements and refinements. You can now write messages with your finger (handwriting mode), avail full Activity Recognition features of Google Fit, benefit from improved efficiency of standalone apps on Android wear and interact with a new system UI. Also, this time around, Android Wear will have its own developer preview.
Other developer focused announcements include Firebase ( a new Google Analytics mobile tool), Android Studio 2.2 with a new layout and many new features, and access to the company’s computer vision, speech, and translation APIs for developers who use Google Cloud.