The first day of Google I/O 2017 is done and dusted, with Google showing us the most exciting things it’s been working on. You could go and watch the two hour long keynote, or you could check out T3’s excellent condensed notes.
Google covered everything from machine learning to tipping YouTubers, with a juicy look at the next generation of Android in between.
So, without further ado, these are the most important things Google announced last year.
Google Lens will soon take over the world
After robots take over the world, we’ll look back at this day as the start of it all, when Google gave robots sight. Google Lens is an umbrella term for a load of different camera tech. The most impressive, and useful to us, is that it can learn what makes a good photo then edit your snaps to make them better. For example, Lens could automatically remove the fence obscuring this image of a girl playing softball.
Google Lens will also be able to scan your photos for data, searching for stuff like show details or WiFi passwords. This data can then be acted upon, so it could automatically connect to a WiFi router without typing a password. Or, if you take a picture of some details about a music event, Lens will bring up the Ticketmaster booking page, and add a reminder to your calendar. Pretty smart, eh?
Google Assistant is about to get a lot more, Assistant-y
When Google launched Assistant last year it made some big promises; you’d be able to have conversations with it, it’ll be able to do everything under the sun, from booking a restaurant table, to showing you funny videos of cats.
We quickly realised Google Assistant was very similar to the outgoing Google Now, with a different name but not drastically better abilities. Now it seems Assistant has attended a butler school, and picked up some new tricks along the way.
Assistant now has some Google Lens smarts. It’ll translate text using the camera, without the need for you to open a separate app, or, for instance, if you see an interesting book, you can hold up your Assistant, tap the Lens icon and get information on the author, book, and reviews.
Oh, and Google Assistant will be available on iOS. It should give Siri a run for its money, but the fact you’ll probably need to open an app rather than hold the home button will make it less convenient.
Google Home learns form Amazon Echo
It’s now more of a smart home companion, with features which make it more like Amazon Echo (no bad thing).
Paired with Chromecast it’ll recommend videos for you to watch, as well as give you visual prompts, such as showing you your weekly calendar, rather than just telling you what’s in it.
Home will be proactive, giving you notifications in advance for things like flight delays and traffic alerts.
There’s also a neat calling function, which turns Home into a speaker phone with the ability to say ‘call mum’ and it’ll call your mum. The really smart innovation here is that if your partner or housemate says ‘call mum’, it’ll call theirs, rather than yours.
You’ll start to see Google Home Assist popping up on more devices as well, as Google has opened it’s APK to let developers tinker. LG has already announced it’ll be coming to their appliances, with more brands to follow.
Read more about the Google Home updates
Google takes mobile VR to the next level
Let’s face it, mobile VR has been a bit crap. Google plans to change that by borrowing some exciting tech from it’s more powerful, PC-based brother.
Google has partnered with HTC Vive and Lenovo to create new Daydream headsets. What’s exciting is that these will be part of a new category of VR devices - standalone headsets. They won't need a phone inside them, or to be tethered to a PC.
Read more about the new Google Daydream headsets
Android O will focus on the vitals
And finally, we get to Android O. It looks like O won’t be a massive update the year, instead focussing on the ‘vitals’, as Google puts it. These include faster boot times, improved battery life, and eliminating malware.
There are also some cool UI updates, such as Notification Dots (similar to iOS), improved copy and paste, shared Photo libraries, and picture-in-picture mode.
We can expect in the full release of the operating system later this Summer.
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