This year at I/O, Google presented its idea for a more abundant and casual way of interacting with technology. Its Assistant is friendlier, replying natural language queries in a more human voice, and it’s got its way into numerous new-fangled Google products: the Echo-like speaker Home and the messenger Allo. Both are zones where other businesses have a lead, but Google’s power in AI presented these facilities with some fine twists, like automatically creating amazingly specific reactions for photos.
Google also declared enhancements to Android — though N, out of beta this summer, needs to be named — in addition to a mobile VR platform that will come along with the fresh OS. There’s a FaceTime opponent Duo as well, and a technique to run Android apps sans downloading anything. Below are the 10 biggest announcements.
The new VR platform
Daydream is Google’s VR platform of the future
Now Google has Daydream, a mobile virtual reality platform, built on top of Android N. As it sounds, Daydream is a lot like Android for VR. It’s a mainstay of software inside Android N (simply known as “VR Mode”) which offers its users with a whole ecosystem to go around in. There will be a home screen with apps, and Google has actually by now created special VR versions of its own apps like Street View, YouTube, Play Movies, Google Photos & the Google Play Store.
The biggest drawback for Daydream appears to be that it will only operate with latest phones that have special screens & sensors. Google states that Daydream-ready phones will be available this fall, and that we can expect to see them from Huawei, LG, HTC, Samsung, and more. The company is also showing reference designs for headsets in a manner to give a boost to phone makers to get on board with the platform.
Google made a VR headset… sort of
Google presented a reference design for a VR headset powered by smartphone. (The company also displayed a motion controller with a touchpad.) The interesting thing here is that Google is approaching VR much like it initially approached Android, since the company also announced the Daydream initiative, a mobile VR platform that will be baked into Android N. Like with Android, Google is offering companies with a support of software while indicating them in a particular direction on the hardware side.
The two new messaging apps from Google
Allo is a messaging app with a resident chatbot
Google is building a new AI-powered foray into messaging with Allo. It is a mobile-only application that you register with your phone number and have the choice of linking to your Google account. It has the standard messaging features, with various custom stickers, emoji, & the capability to draw on photos. It also has the capability to switch the font size of messages.
The Google Assistant is one of Allo’s distinguishing features. Users will be able to call on the Assistant for data and spontaneously generated answers.
It also has private notifications and expiring messages. Stressing upon the privacy aspects, all messages in Allo are encrypted, but Allo also has an incognito mode, encrypting messages end-to-end.
Duo is Google’s FaceTime Rival
Much like how Apple splits up iMessage and FaceTime, Duo is a video chatting app that is completely dedicated to a video-only experience and exists separately.
The main thing about that is Duo will be dead simple to use. When you open the app you can see a selfie-cam video preview of yourself – since when you choose who you want to call, “Knock Knock”, a feature, allows the person you’re calling to get a video preview of you even before they answer.
Duo is mobile-only, however, and it’s tangled to your phone number, so FaceTime has a big benefit here. But Duo like Allo, will be accessible on both iOS & Android.
More assistants in more places
A smart speaker for the smart home
The company also publicised a new home assistant, Google Home, a small speaker with always-listening microphones that incorporates into a wide range of services. The clear comparison is Amazon’s Echo, & Home will be answering questions & execute commands, depending on Google’s Assistant technology to make sense of the queries.
The device has a rounded top & a speaker at the base, giving a small cylinder look with a, presented in a number of diverse shells to match your decor. Unlike Echo, it’s intended to operate with multiple devices in multiple rooms, so when you can ask a single query and you don’t have to worry about 3 different devices responding back.
Home is made on the Chromecast standard, which lets it drive media to other Cast-compatible screens & speakers. Google hasn’t unlocked Home’s API to developers so far, so Home can’t interconnect with as many external services as Echo, but Google says those additions will grow as the platform develops.
Google’s assistant is getting smarter and more chatty
Showing off a next-generation Google Assistant, Sundar Pichai began I/O. Google Assistant feels more like a chat app than the search-based Google Now. At the occasion, Pichai revealed the assistant’s ability to analyse context by asking it what movies were playing tonight, requiring that he wanted to bring the kids, and then buying tickets, all without exiting the app & more or less in the way you’d speak to a human.“Google sees the future of computing as an “ambient experience that extends beyond devices”, said Pichai.
You can also call on the Assistant in a talk, so your friends can see & respond to what it says. The Assistant also offers likely answers to things your friends say in chat, which Google is calling “suggestion chips.” Google studies what answers to offer grounded on how you write — some of the suggested responses in the demo included surprisingly specific comments on photos & emoji.
Android keeps getting bigger
Android N is smarter, faster, better
Google released a new beta and showed off even more of the new operating system. New features comprise more control on notification size from different apps and a new picture-in-picture mode. N could also be a better platform for gaming, thanks to a battery of optimizations and a new API called Vulkan that lets developers directly govern a phone’s GPU for sharper 3D graphics.
Android Wear 2.0
Google also publicised the biggest overhaul to Android Wear from the time when it was released in 2014. That said, Android Wear 2.0 isn’t astonishingly different from the first version, but there are some changes that will definitely improve the experience. Similar to how complications work on the Apple Watch, users can now make data from any app show up on any watch face.
Android Wear 2.0 is invented to help your smart watch turn into more autonomous. Google says that watches prepared with the new version will need to trust less on cellular & smartphones connections, freeing up users to be more active without lugging their phones around. Features like better third-party app syncing and automatic exercise recognition should help this, too. And, of course, Google showed off a tiny, swipe able QWERTY keyboard.
Android reaches deeper into your car
Google also declared a number of slow-but-steady enhancements for drivers. The popular traffic-tracking app Waze is now made directly into Android Auto, letting drivers see accident alerts & speed trap warnings in real time. The new Auto can also link to cars over Wi-Fi, where earlier versions required a wired USB connection. Android N also has some fresh back-end features that will make it cooler for automakers to make their own unique flavors of N. The latest version of Auto will work even if your car doesn’t support the system.
Running Android apps without downloading them
Today Google announced a novel approach — loading parts of apps even if you haven’t installed them. It’s called Android Instant Apps. When you click on a BuzzFeedlink, in the demo, Google Play grasps the parts of the BuzzFeed app it wants, and plays a video. In another demo, it runs a parking meter payment app without installing it. Google says it will be rolling out to users later this year and that it will take developers “less than a day of work” to modularize their apps for the program.