As the biggest developer event wrapped up a week back, the developer community and the market is abuzz with Google’s latest advancements. Phone-calling Artificial Intelligence (AI), self-driving Jaguar I-Pace, Gmail’s Smart Compose, Android P’s Smart Intelligence features and Google Maps, are some of the key highlights announced at the three-day event, kicking up a series of debates and discussions.
Here’s the round-up of the topics announced at the mega event.
1. Google Assistant’s new upgrade – Duplex
Google has raised the bar high with its upcoming ‘automated calling technology’. Named as Duplex, this new technology can call people and businesses after understanding their requests. Duplex is built into Google Assistant and is capable of using natural language to communicate with real people.
At the event, Google let the Duplex demonstrate its skills. First, the Duplex called a hairdresser and booked an appointment for a specific date. When the staff at the hair saloon asked what type of haircut would it like to have, the Duplex responded as “a woman’s haircut”.
In the second demo, it successfully called a restaurant and booked a reservation. Google claimed that the people on the other end were not aware they were speaking to a voice assistant.
Apart from having formal conversation, Google Duplex is said to be capable of delivering natural vocal acknowledgements such as ‘uh-uhs’, ‘mm-hmms’, grunts and other natural sounding responses. It can even pause when it is required. The aim is to make the conversation sound just like human instead of a series of queries. The surprising factor, however, was that the audience were unable to distinguish the voice of Duplex from that of real people.
The demo that Google displayed on the stage at the event
With this huge leap in the voice upgrade, Google’s aspirations were clear: To capture the future of the voice market.
2. Gmail to be reinforced with AI-powered Smart Compose
Google had made several changes to Gmail in 2018 alone. A first time in years. And it looks like Google is going to take Gmail a step further with the AI-powered Smart Compose feature.
The Smart Compose feature is designed to make email composing faster and easier. Google leverages both Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to deliver a technology than can analyze contexts of previously written texts and predict things that would be coming next.
For example, when you begin to type some details which you frequently use, the Smart Compose recognizes that and pulls up that information and shows them in grey text. If that’s what you want, all you have to do is tap the Enter key to use them. The AI-powered Smart Compose is designed to finish phrases and information and do most of your work.
Smart compose predicting text (in grey).
The new Gmail with Smart Composer is expected to be available for consumers in the next few weeks, and for the G Suite users it might be made available in the coming months.
3. Integration of Google Lens into Google Maps
Google Maps, one of the world most famous route-finding app, had its own share of drawbacks. In an effort to compensate these shortcomings, Google announced revamping of Google Maps with AI and Google Lens. After this integration, users should be able to view a city panoramically with highlights on restaurants, offices, shopping and other location in real-time.
Also, with Google Lens technology in the fold, you could just point your phone and see Augmented Reality overlay pop-ups guiding you while still having the google map at the bottom of the view. It is expected to provide better recommendations to users and make the maps more personalized.
Though Google showed a near-completed demo, they did not specify how long will it take to hit the market. The Google Lens technology, largely being a Pixel exclusive feature, is expected to reach out to other phone brands like OnePlus, Xiaomi, and Motorola.
4. Android P Beta release and Smart Intelligence feature
Android P Beta roll-out
One of the key highlights at the event was the much anticipated Android P. The Android P beta is now available. In the past, Android betas were released exclusively for Google phones. That approach had changed this time. In an effort to make itself more accessible Google has decided to launch the Android beta on other phone brands as well, which includes Vivo X21, Xperia XZ2, Oppo R15 Pro and the upcoming OnePlus 6.
Though it seemed like a measured step, its was a sign that Google is keen in reaching out to other phone manufacturers.
Smart Intelligence Features
Google told that it has incorporated some smart and intelligent features in P.
Adaptive Battery: Aimed to conserve battery life and help 30% reduction in CPU.
Adaptive Brightness: Brightness is automatically adjusted according to your environment and activity; It is said that the Android P can learn user preferences and light up the screen accordingly.
App Action: Another predictive tool. With the older version you could view predicted app, with Android P it seems that it can predict your next task, and the shortcuts are arranged right beneath the ‘predicted app’ icons.
Navigation: Google also announced design changes on the navigation front. The new version will have new system navigation interface to facilitate multi-tasking with a single, clean home button. Quick swipe access to recently opened apps, five predicted apps, full app drawer are other few things you’ll see in the new version.
New volume slider
A small volume slider will pop up on the right side of the screen, where the volume buttons are located. You could adjust volume using this slider. The motto behind this is to avoid confusion on increase and decrease. The new Android P also offers screen rotation option.
Another interesting feature of Android P is that it will allow you to know how much time you spend on your phone. It was announced that Google is creating a Dashboard that’ll show the amount of time users spend in apps. It’ll even have an ‘app timer’ option to help users take action, either to continue or turn it off, something like an alarm.
5. Google Assistant Smart Display
The 2018 I/O also saw the announcement of Google Assistant-powered smart display. The device looks similar to a tablet, except that it has got a speaker on left side. The device, through voice control, allow users to make video calls, watch YouTube videos, play music, and view photos.
Google said that, for the smart display, it has partnered with Sony, Lenovo, JBL and LG. Except Sony, all other companies had showcased their smart speaker variants at the I/O event.
The Google Assistant-powered Smart Display is expected to hit sales somewhere in July this year.
6. Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) 3.0
Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the new TPU pod will be 8 times more powerful than the previous one, along with 100 petaflops in performance. This could be in response to the increasing trend of creating customized AI hardware for machine operations, and to also be in top of the race to create better machine learning tools for developers.
7. AI-Powered Google News redesign
Looks like Google is planning to leverage AI capabilities to its maximum. Google News will be revamped and fused with AI capabilities. Google stated that the new AI-powered news app will “allow users to keep up with the news they care about, understand the full story, and enjoy and support the publishers they trust.”.
The upcoming Google News version will have features like ‘newscasts’ and ‘full coverage’ to help viewers get a holistic view of the news.
8 Driverless Jaguar I-Pace
Driverless cars are the future, they say. Well, while the concept still sounds pretty crazy to many people, it did capture eyeballs at the I/O event.
Waymo, an autonomous car manufacturing company, and a subsidiary of Google’s Parent company Alphabet Inc., had showcased a small fleet of Jaguar I-Pace driverless cars at the event. Google stated that the Waymo self-driving cars had gone through several millions of test miles on virtual environment and had done about 6 million miles on public roads.
People at the event had an opportunity to get a glimpse of these self-driving cars. It is said that Waymo is planning to put 20,000 of these on roads in the coming few years.