5 Key Takeaways From Google I/O 2016

by CXOtoday News Desk    May 19, 2016

google

Google kicked off its annual Google I/O 2016 conference in California, showcasing some of its major hardware and software innovations for the year. The highlights for 2016 were virtual reality, chatbots, artificial intelligence and smart messaging app, nothing ‘out of the world’ believe some. Nonetheless, these are futuristic technologies that can have some impact on enterprises and end users in the coming days. Here’s a summary of some of the key annoucements on the first day of the event.

1. Google Assistant, a Siri rival

Virtual assistants are becoming popular in recent years, thanks to the popularity of Apple Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, among others. Now, Google has created its own virtual assistant, naming it Google Assistant. This is going to provide the groundwork for different ways voice recognition could impact search and online marketing and will be available later this summer for both iOS and Android devices. 

The Assistant uses machine learning, Google Search and natural language processing to be more like a chatbot, helping users buy movie tickets, make reservations or provide directions. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during the keynote address. “Every single context is different, and we’re working hard to do this for billions of different conversations and billions of different users around the world.”

2. Home: Google contends with Amazon Echo

An important way Assistant will be used is in Google Home, a voice-activated product that in addition to working like Assistant for mobile will also be equipped for playing music and other entertainment. Google is also designing it to control home systems like Nest and will enable users to do things beyond the home like booking a car, ordering food, to name a few.

On an interesting note, two years ago, Amazon debuted its Echo device of which it has already sold more than 3 million. So, Google is the second company to enter the space.

Pichai believes, Google Home will be like a control center. “It’s like having a voice-activated remote control to the real world whenever you need it,” he said.

3. Daydream: Mobile virtual reality platform

It’s a virtual-reality system designed for what Google calls “high quality” VR experiences on Android smartphones. Manufacturers including Samsung, HTC and Huawei will have smartphones capable of handling it this fall, according to Google.

The platform, included in its upcoming Android N operating system, is meant to improve upon the Cardboard headset it launched two years ago by making VR experiences that are more comfortable and immersive.

Google is also circulating guidelines for manufacturers to make Daydream VR headsets and a motion-sensing remote that can be used like a steering wheel or a fishing rod.

4. Allo, a messaging app 

Allo is a mobile-only app that is explicitly meant to be a fresh start for Google’s new communication’s division - which also runs Hangouts and Project Fi. 

“It’s really liberating to start from scratch sometimes,” said Erik Kay, director of engineering, communications products. And Allo does feel like a fresh new start. Its interface is clean and easy to understand, with some clever little innovations on what you’ve seen in other chat apps like WhatsApp or Messenger. 

And while rivals like Facebook and Kik already have announced chatbot stores for their messaging apps, Google takes it a step further with Smart Reply that suggests responses based on the context of conversations.   

5. Android N, (supposedly next version of Android)

Google also unveiled a number of features for the next version of Android, but for the edition that will start with the letter N, Google is departing from treat names like Kitkat, Jelly Bean and Marshmallow and letting developers decide what it will be called. 

Besides VR support, the Android N update for phones and tablets will get performance boosts for graphics, the company said in a statement. It will also let you run two apps simulteneously, it said.