A lot was announced and previewed at the 2016 Google I/O. From an updated and revamped Google Now to a new competitor to Amazon’s Echo, there’s a lot to catch up on. Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the keynote live as I started a new job, but I caught up later and wanted to share my thoughts/reactions on the big announcements and previews.
Google Now Will Become Google Assistant
Another big update is in store for Google Now. The update is bringing a number of new features and more intelligence to Google Assistant. The goal with Google Assistant was to make your conversation that starts out with “Ok, Google” more conversational. In other words, there is more continuity in your interactions with the assistant. For example, you can ask Assistant, “What is James Harden’s jersey number?” and get an answer. In the same conversation, you can then ask, “what school did he play college basketball at?” and get an answer on where Harden played college ball.
The update to Google Now will be coming later this year and will be available across many devices. I am not sure if Google’s iOS app will be gaining this functionality, but will keep an eye out for future updates on Google Assistant. There is also another special product that Google Assistant will be integral to. That is….
Watch out Amazon Echo. Google is comin’ right at you. Google Home is a direct competitor to Amazon’s “all-knowing Alexa. For those of you that don’t know what these devices are, they are simply stationery devices that can be placed anywhere in your living room, in which through a specific voice prompt can be asked a question and give the user an answer.
Not only can you ask questions, but you can manage everyday tasks and even enjoy entertainment all through simple voice interactions with Google Home. You can start conversing with Google Home via the classic command, “Ok, Google” and your possibilities are limitless. I’ll leave it up to you to determine how creepy it is that there is a smart little device sitting in your room that knows all. Either way, Google Home does cut some time off of information search by eliminating the need to use your phone.
Android Instant Apps
This may be the coolest feature that Google showed at the I/O this year, in my opinion. To keep it simple, Android users can soon have the ability to access an app without having to download it. It makes sense to have this feature for smartphone/tablets users because there are many occasions where you need to use an app, but perhaps for only a one time or rare use.
I recently experienced a situation where I needed to convert a paper document into a PDF file without a copy machine around. I downloaded the CamScan app on my phone and fulfilled the task with ease, but I didn’t need the app anymore on my phone. Obviously, it is pretty easy to just delete the app afterward. However, with Android Instant Apps, I wouldn’t need to completely install the app on my phone for this one time task. Android Instant Apps eliminates that inconvenience and provides a logical solution.
New Communication Apps: Allo & Duo
Google also introduced two new apps for communication. I see them as the Google version of iMessage and FaceTime. Allo is built for messaging and Duo is built for calling.
When you call someone with Duo, you can actually have a live-video of yourself playing while your friend’s phone rings. Basically, your friend can see you while you are waiting for them to pick up. Now, I imagine that there will be limitations with this feature, but it would be awfully strange if you were in a meeting, or other environment where someone could call you and make a fool out of you. Either, this is a unique feature that will add a special dynamic to communication with your friends.
With Allo, you have the typical messenger features: texting, emojis, pictures, etc. But one new feature is the ability to re-size your text. Google is calling it Whisper-Shout. The whisper being smaller text and shout being larger text, duh-doy. You will be able to tap in to your contacts it Allo and also have your phone number connected as well.
Wrapping Up & Other Announcements
So there you have it! Those were my major takeaways from the Google I/O keynote. Now, I know I didn’t cover Android N and Android Wear 2.0. I am hoping to cover those updates in separate posts as there are a lot of details to cover.
Google has a lot of great releases come down the pipeline and it will be great to see how the are integrated to their ecosystem. Though I may lean Apple in my personal use of tech, I think it is great what Google is doing. For me, it is best to embrace the technology from every direction.
Thanks for read! Taylor out.
You can watch Google I/O keynote below if you want to see certain parts as well: