Google I/O is an annual developer focussed conference generally held in San Francisco, California. In this conference Google makes announcements related to the company, its products and services and its general vision for future. Google I/O 2016 was held in Mountain View on 3 days from 18th May 2016 to 20th May 2016. Let’s look at the products and services Google announced this year.
Google Assistant is a voice assistant that can interact with users and help them in a few tasks. It is based on the technology of Google now. It can help you book movie tickets, help you grab a dinner on the way and guide you to the theatre. Google has been working on AI and related technologies. Google Assistant is a chatbot based on those technologies. It can work across devices. Google Assistant can be voice activated and is conversational like Siri and Alexa. It will be offered across a wide array of devices including the newly announced Google Home. Google Assistant is also built into Allo Mobile Messaging App.
#Allo –The messaging App
Allo is the messaging app that comes with Google Assistant. Google Assistant interacts with you directly as a chat bot. Allo app has intelligent learning algorithm and includes the feature of smart reply. It learns the context of the conversations, analyzes previous conversations and comes up with a set of suggested responses ready for you to use during a chat.
These smart replies include emojis, stickers and photos too – all aimed at making your conversation more engaging. It has a simple “whisper or shout” sliding feature which will enable you to change the size of your text as per your liking. Allo has end-to-end encryption, private notifications and also an incognito mode of chat. Allo will be available for both iOS and Android devices soon.
#Duo – The Video Calling App
Duo is a simple video calling app for both iOS and Android. Duo offers a mobile-only service that uses the user’s mobile telephone number as a unique identifier. The app aims to simplify the experience of video calling. When you launch the app you get a selfie video view of yourself. You get to adjust your hair, freshen up your make-up if you wish – have a good look at yourself and then call the people on your contact list. Their profiles are displayed in small circles.
Duo app has a ‘knock- knock’ feature which lets users preview a live video feed of the caller before answering the call. Calls are in 720p with HD audio but the app has enough flexibility to dynamically adjust the video quality to the network strength.
All calls on Duo are end-to-end encrypted.
Google Home is a voice controlled, table-top cylindrical speaker that is powered by artificial intelligence. This device uses the same Google assistant that is used in the app Allo. It requires a wired power connection.
“With a simple voice command, you can ask Google Home to play a song, set a timer for the oven, check your flight, or turn on your lights,” Google said on its blog.
It can answer your questions using Google’s search engine. It is available with customizable bases in different colors to fit into the ambience of your home. Mario Queiroz, the Google executive in charge of Home said, “It will let anyone in the family, kids or adults, have a conversation with Google.”
It is shorter and more compact than Amazon Echo.
#Google Play store and Android apps – now on Chrome OS
If you own a Chromebook, it is time to rejoice. At Google I/O 2016, Google has been holding workshops to help android app developers optimize their apps for Chromebooks. Chromebook owners will soon have access to the Google App Store and the Apps. In the workshop that Google held for android app developers they learnt to optimize their apps for select new features of Android N and Android M. There were sessions on features such a multi-window, Keyboard and trackpad support.
Entire catalogue of Google play will soon be available to chrome OS.
#Daydream – VR Platform
Daydream is android powered VR platform built on Android N. All the apps will soon be available on Daydream. Google’s YouTube, Street View, Google Photos, Play Movies and the Play Store will be on Daydream in their VR version. Google has recruited several media companies to bring their VR apps to Daydream. Streaming platforms like Netflix and gaming companies like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft are also developing their VR apps for Daydream.
Users will be able to access a Daydream home screen with the help of a VR headset. Google has been working on new android phones with select group of manufacturers to include VR viewers and controllers to provide a really immersive experience to the users. The phones need to be designed in such a way that the users feel comfortable when using VR apps. They need to be intuitive. Daydream will only work on new android phones with specific components like special sensors and screens. Those phones will have Google’s latest version of operating system with Android VR Mode feature.
According to Google, Daydream ready phones with VR viewers and motion controllers will be available this fall.
#New Firebase – A unified platform for mobile developers
Google has expanded and added on to the features of Firebase. New Firebase is the comprehensive platform for developing and managing Android, iOS and web apps. New tools have been added to develop app faster, to improve app quality, acquire, analyze and engage users and to enable monetization.
Firebase Analytics is a new free deeply integrated analytics service for mobile apps. Basic user information will now be fed right from the app to Firebase. Developers will be able to analyze their user behaviour in more detail and see how their advertising campaigns are performing. Google cloud messaging is now Firebase Cloud messaging. Firebase storage has been launched. It is powered by Google Cloud storage. Firebase Remote Config enables you to tune and customize the apps for your users on the fly by providing you instantly – updatable variables. Cloud test Lab is now Firebase Test Lab.
There are features like authentification, notification, invites, dynamic links, Firebase Admob and more that make Firebase a a one-stop shop for building, managing, and monetizing Android, iOS, and web apps. New Firebase has all these different features in one console and one SDK. You can read more here.
It would be really simple to use android apps in future. Google has created a way by which the apps would work instantly on a device without installation. Developers would now be able to make their apps modular and streaming compatible. Users will be able to stream and open an app by clicking on a URL. Users will be able to stream parts or modules of the apps they want to use instead of downloading and installing the whole app. It would be a better way to try out new apps. Streaming apps would consume lesser mobile data and users will be able to save more space on their phone. It would work after the developers modularize their apps – they would be able to serve their users the parts of the app they need.
Instant apps would be fully compatible with Google Play services. Users will be able to opt for in-app purchases. There could be a lot of impulse buying on instant apps – publishers could benefit. Developers could install ‘call to action’ links and buttons to encourage users to install the full app.
#Android Wear 2.0
Google’s Android wear platform debuted two years ago and is now installed on more than 100 different smart watch models. It is now supported by several brands. The features have been improved. Earlier notification cards obscured part of watch face unless the user dismissed them. Now the notifications are delivered in a less disruptive way and they are shown as a tiny bug until you are ready to see them. It is easy to scroll up and down and swiping. Long presses have gone. There is a hardware button at the side to enable you to get back to default watch face from wherever you are in the settings of the watch.
There are a lot of things happening on the Android N front. New features of N include multi window, picture-in-picture mode, increased battery efficiency, new quick settings buttons, new emojis, new graphics API called Vulcan, and the ability to reply to messages from within a notification. And yes, not to forget Android N would soon be getting a new name – a successor to Android Marshmallow.
Google is building future. Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” and it surely is living it. It is trying to make our lives easier and more interesting with the help of all the data and information it has in its centres. Its AI and machine learning capabilities are making interactions, messaging and conversations better. We surely are living in interesting times.