Google I/O is an annual developer conference held by Google at their HQ in Mountain View, California. Google takes on the I/O stage every year to announce what new stuff they’ve been working on over the past year. They literally throw their ‘Innovation in the open” which is also the slogan for the event. Oh and ‘I/O’ stands for input/output in case you’re not much of a techie.
Google I/O 2018 has been on the entire week and Google made some really exciting announcements including news on the next major Android release and lots more. Some delegates and top learners from the Andela Learning Community 1.0 were also sponsored to attend the event in California.
Here are some of the key announcements.
Succeeding Android Oreo, Android P (we are not sure what snack Google will use this time) is being readied for its official launch later this year. Google seems to have put it in some serious sweat into this particular Android version. The new OS will see Android lose its characteristic three-button navigation in favour of iPhone X-like gestures.
Google also announced its “Digital Well Being” initiative, wherein the idea seems to reduce the amount of time you spend fiddling with your phone. Your phone will automatically enter a “do not disturb” mode whenever the phone is placed screen-down on a surface; And there’s a new Dashboard that’s meant to plainly show “how you’re spending time on your device, including time spent in apps, how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, and how many notifications you’ve received.” You can even set time limits for individual apps if you want to cut back on compulsively staring at your phone at any moment of downtime.
Google has released a public beta for Android P to compatible devices.
Smart Compose in Gmail
Google is expanding on its helpful Smart Reply feature with a more ambitious idea: Smart Compose. Smart Compose uses Artificial Intelligence “to help you draft emails from scratch, faster.” Gmail will now offer suggestions for complete sentences and phrases based on what you type, as you type. Apparently, you can even just keep hitting the Tab key and Smart Compose will keep adding suggested sentences.
Smart Compose is coming to the new Gmail for consumers first over the next few weeks; G Suite users will have to wait a few months.
Google Assistant is taking on more human-like responsibilities with the announcement of Google Duplex. using text to speech, deep learning, AI, and more, Google Assistant can now help you book an appointment or make a dinner reservation via phone call. In a demo at I/O 2018, Google Assistant made a real call to a hair salon and had a back and forth conversation with an employee, ultimately booking an actual woman’s haircut appointment in the time span requested by the user.
This is not a feature that will roll out anytime soon, but it’s something Google is working hard to develop for both business and consumers. An initial version of the service that will call businesses to get store hours will roll out in the coming weeks, and the data collected will allow Google to update open and close hours under company profiles online.
Google’s virtual assistant is getting some more voice variety. Users will get to pick from six additional, natural sounding voices in addition to the default one. Google calls that original voice “Holly.” Popular musician John Legend is also lending his voice to power Assistant later this year.
Google Maps will now display restaurant recommendations tailored to your tastes and location in a new “For You” tab along with a social element for meeting up with friends. It’ll also display businesses in your area as well as restaurants that are trending around you. You can add any restaurant to a new short list, and you can then share that list with friends so they can add other options, and the group can then choose a restaurant from the group list.
Google is also adding augmented reality features to Google Maps. Just hold your phone up in any direction, and Google Maps will pair with your phone’s camera to give directional cues right on top of the real world. Pretty cool, especially if you’re walking around a place you’ve never visited before.
Google Photos continues to evolve with the help of AI, and Google is updating it with more machine learning features. Photos can now change the color of one section in a photo with a simple tap while turning the rest of the photo into black and white. Conversely, it can also colorize a black and white photo realistically, or quickly turn a photo of a document into a PDF file. The app will also make suggestions on editing brightness, for example, when you look at photos in your gallery.
Google Lens will also get an update which allows you to simply take a picture of text, including handwriting apparently, and copy-paste it wherever you like. This should be fairly awesome for grabbing notes and sending them via text or even putting contact details into your phone. Lens will also receive the ability to analyze clothing in the real world and find out where you can purchase it on the internet.
All features will be available later in the year.