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Google i/o 2019: Android Q, Ar, Google maps, and other key announcements

The Google I/O annual conference is one of the biggest of Google’s events where new hardware, software, and updates are announced. The three day event – from 7th to 9th May, 2019 – was held in Mountain View, California. Though the conference announces a blend of software and hardware releases, this year we saw more announcements on hardware than the previous year.    

Here are the key announcements of Google I/O 2019.

Making Pixel phones more affordable was certainly on Google’s mind. Google announced that the new versions of the 3A and 3A XL are deemed to be lighter on your pockets, that is, when compared to the previous versions. The 3A and 3A XL are priced at $399 and $479 respectively. While they have retained some features, they’ve also changed some in comparison to the earlier versions of Pixel phones. 

On the upside

We all know that Pixels are known for their interesting camera features. With the new 3A and 3A XL users can continue to enjoy rich features like Super Res Zoom, Night Sight (for low light photography), and Portrait Mode on the both, front and rear cameras. This is good news for those who are fixated on phone cameras and pictures.

On the downside

For the start, the processor is downgraded from Snapdragon 845 to Snapdragon 670, the storage capacity for both is fixed to 64GB, and you will miss out on two premium features – waterproofing and wireless charging capability.

Another downside is the limited picture quality uploads on cloud. Though Google offers free photo storage on the cloud, the uploads from the 3A devices will be limited to just High Quality instead of the Full Resolution.

The 3A and 3A XL phones are available in three colors: White, Black and Purple.

Android Q Beta

The latest Android Beta Q is out and ready to be downloaded by Pixel users. Wait! Not just Pixel users, but Nokia, LG, OnePlus, Sony, Vivo, Asus and Xiaomi users too can download and use the new Android Q Beta.
The Android Q comes with the following features: Dark Theme, Focus Mode, Smart Reply

Dark Theme: Though the Dark Theme was there in the earlier Beta Q version, users were unable  to turn it on or off. With the new version users can toggle it ‘on’ and ‘off’ in the Quick Settings menu. Otherwise, the dark theme is automatically activated when the phone in put into battery saving mode. Users who’ve tried it have said that the theme was of true black (not gray, as many assume it to be), and could have possibly been designed to reduce battery power further.

Focus Mode: Finding some apps that are redundant, or too distracting? Here’s Focus mode to help you streamline your priorities better. Along with Digital Wellbeing (which was released last year), Google has added a new feature called Focus Mode. This feature helps users pick and disable specific apps that they don’t want to use.      

Smart Reply: The Smart Reply feature is built into Android’s notification system, helping  messaging apps to suggest replies in notifications. This feature would be offered in third-party messaging apps. The Smart Reply also showcases addresses in an intelligent way. If someone messages you an address, it opens the address in Google Maps pointing the exact location of the address.

Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max

Google Home Hub has been renamed as Nest Hub and is priced $129, while Nest Hub Max, a slightly higher variation, is priced at $229. The Nest Hub Max offers some improved features like:  The display is increased from 7” to 10”, addition of a camera (with a physical switch and LED light indicator to monitor recording), and improved loudspeakers. In a nutshell, the Nest Hub Max is a combination of Google Home Hub, Nest Camera, and the Google Home Max. Another interesting feature of the device is its secure facial recognition, which happens locally and is not transmitted over the net.

Augmented Reality (AR) Mode for Google Maps and Search

Looks like you don’t have to worry about being lost in a maze of confusing streets with a Pixel phone by you. Google Maps has roped in AR technology to guide people in the right direction to reach their destination. When you aim the phone’s camera to a street, Google Maps will compare the image with the street view database to find out your exact location and position, then an animated arrow comes up on your phone’s screen pointing you in the right direction.

Augmented Reality is also set to make your search more fascinating by fusing 3D models into your real environment through your phone. Say you want to check out how those new shoes look on you before you purchase, Augmented Reality lets you to virtually try out the product.

Duplex on the web

Last year Google released Duplex, a AI-powered customer service tool designed to help small businesses to manage phone calls, handle reservations, take appointments, and answer simple queries.

This year, Google will make Duplex function on the web, too. By using just your voice you can enable Duplex to do various day-to-day business tasks such as, write emails (including subject lines), reply to messages, insert images in messages, scrawl the web to book things like cabs and movie tickets, scan and auto-fill forms (yes, it takes your approval before sending it out).

Coming Soon! Live Captions and Subtitles on all videos

Google announced that Android will soon be able to generate subtitles for videos, be it on your camera, on an app, web or a video chat. This, according to Google, will aid people who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, it goes without saying that will also help people view videos in public when the volume is kept low or muted.

The Live Caption feature is designed to help people with hearing difficulties by transcribing conversations in real time, and also allowing users to respond to them via text messages. The listening feature is said to have developed so sensitively that when the app is opened the device will listen to its surroundings and display transcribed text of any speech it has recognized.

Google Lens gets a bit more smarter

Google Lens has been the center of attraction ever since its release. This year Google announced that Lens, when aimed at the restaurant menu can search and highlight popular dishes, show up your receipt, split bills and taxes, and even calculate the tips for you. Take a picture of a sign board in foreign language, Lens translates it for you in your chosen language. Hovering Lens over a food magazine (the ones that have partnered with Google, like Bon Appetit) brings images to life where you can zoom, add it to cart, and carry out other functions.

Image source: The Verge

Google Maps come with Incognito Mode

The function of the Incognito Mode is similar here as it were in web. Entering this mode will enable users to privately and safely use maps where their route and destination searches will not be saved in the account history.

Google Assistant built into Waze

The Google Assistant is expected to be fused into Waze to help users quickly report potholes or accidents through voice commands.

Google Assistant in Driving Mode

Now, blurting out ‘Hey Google, let’s drive’ will turn Google Assistant into a driving mode, giving you directions to your destination and also play music. 


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