Google I/O 2017, where the mountain view giant shares its vision for Android and other Google services, was concluded last night and there are several interesting developments in the pipeline that Google let us peep into. In case you missed Google’s biggest Annual conference last night, here are the primary highlights to bring you up to speed.
Google has been desperately trying to grant the Internet and Android access to the next billion consumers in developing markets like India (Google also announced that there already are over 2 Billion active Android phones !), and most of its projects haven’t had a revolutionary impact so far.
Remember Android One? A project that gave us hope of functional entry-level Android phones that also got speedy updates but imploded soon thereafter? Well, Google is hoping Android Go will take after where Android One left.
Android Go is a lighter version of Android build on Android O with a lighter set of Google Apps that consume less storage and resources, and it will soon be available on entry-level smartphones. This could indeed have a major impact in India, IF, Google manages to push Android Go phones on time. They were one year too late with the Android One project.
First Android O Beta will be available starting today. Some of the key Android O features include:
- Picture-in-Picture mode, which lets you squeeze down any app to a mini preview window (just as it already happens within YouTube App) simply by pressing the home button.
- Notifications dots and bubbles right above the App icon
- Android O devices will boot 2x faster
- Faster copy and paste; double tap to smart select text
- There will be a limit on how much battery apps are allowed to consumer while in the background
- More streamlined Settings menu and other Interface and performance improvements
Android users will soon be able to search objects on the world wide web directly from their cameras. With Google Lens, you can simply point your phone to a flower or to a shop’s banner and your phone will recognize such objects and tell you more about them.
Google Lens can also do things beyond search. For instance, you could place a WiFi ID and Password in the camera viewfinder and it will directly connect to that particular network. Or you could use its capabilities to navigate through a departmental store to find your way to the correct aisle.
To start with, Google Lens will roll out to Assistant and Photos App. Google might add it to other apps later.
Smart Replies coming to Gmail
Google Smart Replies feature, one that can be used to carry on a fairly long conversation in Allo without typing a single letter, is now coming to Gmail too. The feature is already available in Inbox and accounts for 12 percent of the replies, according to Google.
— Google (@Google) May 17, 2017
So, moving forward, you could directly pick Google’s suggested quotes to reply to emails faster.
Better Photo Sharing and Editing
Google is also adding some serious editing chops to Photos app. At last night’s event, Google demonstrated that its software is smart enough to remove a wire mesh from an image (image below). In future, Google will be able to automatically remove unwanted objects from your clicked images.
And the app will also make suggestions for people you should share these images with. Families will also be able to shoot and collectively pool images together in a separate album.
Google is betting big on AI and Machine learning
Google has made it amply clear that AI and machine learning is the way forward. It’s heavily relying on algorithms that can monitor your usage pattern and teach themselves to work better, smarter.
At I/O 2017, Google launched next-generation Tensor Processing Unit that makes building AI on Google’s platform faster. This will enable Google to stay ahead in the AI game as researchers will be motivated to use its own hardware and software.
Google Home will be a lot more useful
Google also announced a bunch of improvements for Home, which will make it more useful. Google Home can now make direct calls (free calling to the USA and Canada), will be able to control apps like Hulu, HBO Now and more, and you will also be able to use it as a regular Bluetooth Speaker.
It still won’t be available in India and perhaps it still needs to get a lot better to make a convincing case for itself.
Google Assistant Coming to iPhones
Google Assistant will soon roll out to iOS devices as well, but it won’t work the same as on Android. For instance, you won’t be able to use it to set alarms. You could still do things like sending SMS, fetch search results, etc.
Standalone VR Headset coming soon
At last year’s I/O google standardized VR headsets with the introduction of DayDream VR platform and this year, it announced that the Standalone VR headsets, that don’t need you to plug-in your phone, are on their way. HTC and Lenovo are the first ones to be making them.