Just over a month has passed since Google I/O and it’s been interesting for us to hear from clients interested in the value of what was announced. Some of what was announced has already been made available to users but a lot of it will roll out over the coming months. As we’ve been asked about a few of the features and products coming, we thought it might be handy to summarise some of the best.
Artificial intelligence played an ever-increasing role in everything Google do and I/O 2017 was no different – much of the conference was spent highlighting how the company has been improving sound and visual recognition since last year. It’s always interesting for us to see how these cutting-edge developments start to bleed into the tools in G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for work).
There were, of course, a huge variety of different announcements made during the conference, so we’ve chosen 10 of our favourites to highlight so that you can gain an insight into what will have the biggest impact on the digital landscape over the next year. If you’d like to watch the conference in full, you can do so here.
1) Android O Boosts Your Phone’s Intelligence
Android O will bring a range of new features and updates, one of which focuses on auto-fill being extended to apps. This should take the pain out of setting up a new Android phone or tablet, as well as signing up for any new services you use.
Another similar new feature is called ‘Smart Text Selection’. Usually, when you want to select a word or sentence to copy and paste, you would double-tap or hold your finger down before dragging the little handles around the area of text you want. But as machine learning spreads further into Google’s services, the Smart Text Selection feature will already know what you want to select. So you can double tap on an address or phone number, and it’ll recognise what you’ve tapped on and therefore select the whole address or number for you. The same applies to names and emails etc.
2) Gmail Smart Reply Rolls Out
Gmail Smart reply has made its way onto Android and iOS and allows you to pick from one of three different automatic responses to emails you receive on the go. Once you select one, you can either edit the response quickly or send immediately with a couple of taps to save you time when you’re out and about. Again, Smart Reply uses Google’s Machine Learning technology so that it can begin learning the types of responses you would use naturally, so the more you use it, the more like you it becomes in its suggestions!
3) Google Assistant Update
Google Assistant will soon be able to support typing requests, which will come in handy when you’re in a quiet area or if it’s just not suitable for talking out loud. Google has also claimed to have made significant leaps forward in how Google Assistant understands commands, thanks to natural language processing.
“Almost 70% of requests to the Google Assistant are expressed in natural language, not the usual keywords,” said Scott Huffman, VP of Engineering for Google Assistant. “We’re really starting to crack the hard computer science of conversationality.” Apparently “conversationality” is a word now!
4) Google Assistant On iPhone
As many had been hoping for, Google Assistant is finally going to become available on iOS devices. A lot of people aren’t too impressed with Siri’s functionality, and as Google Assistant getting smarter all the time thanks to AI and machine learning, bringing it to the iPhone ensures it will have a big role on iOS beyond Google Maps and core services.
5) Google Lens Revealed
One of the biggest announcements of the conference was a new technology which uses your phone’s camera in the place of a search box; called Google Lens. “Google Lens is a set of vision based computing capabilities, that can understand what you’re looking at,” explained CEO Sundar Pichai. This means that you can point your phone at virtually anything, such as shops, cafe’s or venues, and your phone will use location data provide all the information it can find about what you’re looking at. This can bring up reviews, related articles or similar alternatives nearby.
“If you run into something and you want to know what it is, say a flower, we can tell you what flower it is.” We can see this new technology being a big deal – and bound to play a role in Google’s business tools too.
6) Google Home News & Updates
Google have announced that there will be plenty of new updates coming to Google Home, claiming that there are 50 new features to be added this year – “We’ve been really busy,” said Rishi Chandra, VP of Home Products. One example will be the new proactive assistance. Whenever there are any changes or updates to your schedule, such as the status of your flight, traffic updates or an upcoming event has a different start time, you’ll be notified there and then. Interestingly, Google also seems to be tentatively exploring how these devices might fit in for businesses too – it will be interesting to see how they evolve.
7) Google Photos Gets Smarter
A surprising number of our clients use Google Photos to make it easier to manage their picture libraries. And now Photos is adding Suggested Sharing to its repertoire of AI features. It will soon be able to find your best photos, using machine learning and then suggest that you share them with relevant people; which are usually people who were at the event with you, or family members who missed it. Google Photos will also be rolling out Shared Libraries. This lets you create libraries with certain topics which you can share with other people and easily collaborate to compile a full collection from specific trips or events. The last addition to Google Photos will be the launch of Photo Books. Google Photos will select the best of your photos for you to choose from and then ship you a real, physical book of photos.
8) Android Go Set To Improve Budget Phones
Android Go is a new project aiming to improve the mobile user experience for those with lower-end devices. The update will apply to all devices with 1GB of RAM or less, starting with Android O. One of the ways they plan on achieving this is by making a number of optimisations to improve the use of available memory in Android O devices, so that those with the Go configuration and less than 1GB of memory will be able to run far more smoothly. This will improve the use of Android in very low-end handsets and in the developing world.
9) Daydream VR Headsets
Google has teamed up with Qualcomm to build a standalone Daydream virtual reality headset. Although, it’s important to know that neither company will actually be selling any of these headsets to consumers. What the two companies have created is a reference design to be used by third-party manufacturers to build their own headsets. This is a step forward from last year’s Daydream announcements, by removing the need for you to insert a smartphone into the headset. Instead, the headset will contain all features required, including a display and processor – and even offer positional tracking.
10) 360 Degree Live Video On YouTube
YouTube has now begun supporting 360-degree video (including live video) on television. You’ll also be able to use your TV remote (on smart TVs) to move around and see the video from all different angles.
If you’d like to find out more information about upcoming Google events, announcements, G Suite or cloud computing in general, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be delighted to have a chat about how we could help.