Top announcements from Google I/O 2016 so far
At Google I/O conference this year, the company displayed an inclination and a vision towards a more ubiquitous and conversational way of interacting with technology. Big changes have been made to the voice assistant, making it chatter and human-like in answering the search queries of the user. It has also found its way into several new products that have been launched by Google, like the messenger Allo and the Amazon Echo-like speaker Home. It is true that the company has already got a lead in both the areas, however, with the addition of artificial intelligence AI, there is a surprising amount of improvement in the overall performance and the usability.
Also see: Full coverage of Google I/O 2016
Along with this, the company has also announced the improvements to Android via Android N, whose name is still not decided, to be release in the summers this year as a beta version along with a platform for mobile VR. They have also announced Duo, which is a FaceTime rival and also introduced a way to use Android applications without the need for you to download them. Here we have compiled a list of the top 10 biggest announcements that Google has made so far.
Google’s new VR platform
The company has introduced Daydream, its mobile VR platform. This platform is built along with Android N and is supposed to be introduced with the OS. However, this is not going to be as powerful as HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift but will still be better than Cardboard and shows a lot of promise.
From what we gathered, the whole concept behind Daydream does look like it is Android for virtual reality. This is basically the backbone to the software that will come installed with Android N and will be called the “VR mode.” The whole implementation is a lot like the Gear VR with the icons for the apps on the screen. However, from the looks of the things, Google has already created the VR version of its popular apps with companies like The New York Times, HBO, Netflix, Ubisoft, and Electronic Arts also joining in the development of their apps.
However, there is a big downside to the whole concept as it will work only on the latest android-powered devices that have special types of sensors included in them. These phones will be available this fall and the company has started to give reference design to the companies to encourage the development of supported handsets. Samsung, HTC, LG, and Huawei are some of the major players in the market who are all set to develop such handsets.
Google “VR Headset”
There were rumors that Google is going to announce its own VR headset during this year’s conference. The headset was supposed to be a mid-tier device, which was much affordable than the Occulus Rift and the HTC Vive, but more capable than Cardboard.
This turned out to be sort of true as the company showcased its reference design for a VR headset which would be powered by a smartphone. The design was very similar to a smaller and cordless Occulus Rift.
As we know, Google is prone to showcase its reference design for Android-powered smartphones in Nexus devices, so, it may be the case that in future, such headsets may also be implemented.
Google’s introduction of two new messaging apps
Allo is the company’s AI-powered foray into the messaging market. This is a messaging only application, which requires you to register your phone number and gives you the option of connecting your Google account. Along with the usual messaging features, you also get access to emoji, some custom stickers, and the ability to draw on photos. You can also change the font size that you are using to send the message.
Along with the addition of the Google assistant, the company is also laying stress on privacy aspects of the application. All messages in the app are going to be encrypted. It also enables the user to go in the incognito mode that enables the end to end encryption of data. Private notifications and expiring messages are other additions.
As an addition to the launch of the Allo app, the company also announced another app called Duo. This app works quite similar to Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage app and splits up the usability existing as a video-only experience.
The simplicity of the application is what sets it apart. As soon as you open the application, you are greeted with a video preview from the selfies camera. Google has also added in a “Knock Knock” feature which provides the person whom you are calling, a live feed from your selfies camera even before they pick the call.
Duo is a mobile-only application and is tied to your mobile number, however, it will be launched for both iOS and Android devices.
More smart assistants
A smart speaker for a smart home
The company announced a new assistant which they call, ‘Google Home.’ This speaker comes with several always on microphones and functions similar to the Amazon Echo. It also has Chromecast compatibility allowing it to push media to other Cast-compatible speakers and screens along with all other Chromecast features.
Google’s Assitant is getting smarter
Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google Inc. began the I/O conference by showcasing the new and improved Google Assistant. All in all the new improvements made the assistance feel more like a chat app than the search-based Google Now.
This improvement in the assistant also adds value to the Allo app, allowing you to do actions like making reservations by simply typing in @google.
Android is definitely getting bigger and better
We got our first look at the Android N in March via a developer preview, however, the company introduced an update to the edition in the conference. New features include more control over notification size from different apps and a new picture-in-picture mode. This OS may also be a better platform for you to play games on, owing to a host of battery optimization features and the addition of a new API called Vulkan, which enables the developer to directly control a phone’s GPU for better graphics performance.
Android Wear 2.o
Finally, Google has announced a major overhaul to its smartwatch platform, the Android Wear since its original release in 2014. The changes on the user interface front are not that drastic, however, you will now get the option of displaying the data from an app on any watch face, which is quite similar to the experience which we get on the Apple Watch.
However, there are performance tweaks and added features that will definitely make the whole Android Watch experience a lot more immersive. Google intends to make the smartwatch more autonomous in order to decrease its reliance on smartphones and cellular connections. A swipeable, tiny, QWERTY keyboard has also been added to the latest iteration of the platform.
Android updates for your car
Google is definitely trying to make improvements as far as the driver experience is concerned. Waze, the popular traffic tracking app now comes directly embedded into the Google Auto app. Along with this, the app is now able to connect to cars directly over Wi-Fi without the need for a wired connection as was the case in the previous versions. The app is also able to work with non-compatible cars owing to the new developments that enable the app to be used on the phone itself.
Running applications without downloading
Developers over all the platforms are trying to make the overall browsing more immersive for users, however, Google is taking the whole experience to an all new level by allowing the users to preview parts of an application without installing it. For the developers, the company claims that it will take them “less than a day of work” to modularize their apps for the program.
The demos were definitely very interesting, however, they do leave a lot of questions unanswered. These products are definitely not going to have an easy entry into the market as, VR, messaging, and smart assistants are three of the hottest and trending areas in present-day technology. We will need a closer look at the applications to ascertain the chances of success for these additions. However, without a doubt, we can definitely say that Sundar Pichai lead Google is not afraid of making such bets and forays into the market.
What are your thoughts and views on the recent announcements by the company? Do let us know in the comments down below.