All the Latest News and Gadgets from Google I/O 2016 for Users and Developers
May 21st, 2016
Google has held its annual conference for developers called I/O 2016 and made a few interesting announcements.
If you’re a user, check out the news about a messenger, voice assistant, and smart speaker. If you’re a developer - there are great news about new app testing tools, development platform, and new versions of Android and Android Wear platforms.
What’s New for Users?
Google Now voice assistant is now called Google Assistant and it will become even smarter than it was. Google promises that the Google Assistant will receive the requests in the natural language and it will even be able to conduct a dialogue with the user. Google points out that the Assistant is much smarter than Google Now. For example, you can ask the Assistant where is the closest cafe or ask about movies to watch in the evening. In turn, the Assistant will ask additional clarifying questions and even anticipate some user’s wishes, for example, if the user asked to show a list of theater’s performances, Assistant might ask if it should order tickets for one of them.
Google Home Smart Speakers
Even before the conference, there were rumors that Google is preparing a competitor for the Amazon Echo. The rumors proved to be true and Google Home made its appearance on the stage. Besides other features, it can be used to communicate with the Google Assistant via the built-in microphone. Actually, Google Assistant is built-in into the Google Home. It can also manage a number of smart devices such as thermostats, smart lights, surveillance cameras, and other Internet of Things gadgets. You can also start music playback with just a voice command.
Smart Allo Messenger and Duo Video Messenger
Google wasn’t going to miss the messengers’ theme, especially since users and large IT-companies are showing interest to it. That was the reason Google decided not to be penny wise and introduced not one, but two messengers.
The first smart messenger is called Allo and it can be used to send text messages or photos between users. One needs only a phone number to register for an Allo account. What’s unique about Allo is its feature called “Smart Reply” that can respond to the messages from another person by analyzing his/her message and previous answers. For example, the “Smart Reply” can ask “When?” if asked about the plans for the dinner and “Who is in the photo” if a photo was sent. Allo is also integrated with the Google Assistant - via Allo, you can send voice commands for Assistant to search for something. It is possible that Allo will also feature chat bots. What else? Besides encrypting your messages, you can also turn on a special secure “Incognito” mode where your messages will disappear after a set period of time.
Duo messenger is designed for video and the developers promised that video will be maintained even at a weak internet connection. Duo is very similar to the Apple’s FaceTime.
At the moment, Google just demonstrated the way Allo and Duo messengers work, the apps will be accessible in the summer of 2016.
New Version of Android N
Google hasn’t revealed what its new mobile operating system will be called, but brought to light several of its features. It is known that it will be faster, will be more efficient when it comes to storage space for apps installations, and it will have support for Vulkan API for better graphics. A feature that would be useful for all Android-device users is “Clear All” button that would close all open applications in one click. Built-in app security system called SafetyNet would analyze apps and in the case of suspicious activity, the system would block them. The multi-window function will also be appreciated by many users - the feature allows to open several apps and place them side by side in adjacent windows.
DayDream - Virtual Reality from Google
Google introduced DayDream - mobile virtual reality platform. It will be used to create apps that use VR. At the same time, Google said they are working on a VR helmet, but there’s nothing else besides stories for now. Externally, the helmet is supposed to look like Samsung Gear VR Oculus Rift and its controller - like an Apple TV remote control. Google is planning on moving some apps that were created for Cardboard headset to work in DayDream.
Android Wear 2.0
The second generation of the Android Wear system was introduced at the conference. The system is designed for the smartwatches. One of the novelties in Android 2.0 is the ability to work autonomously without connecting to the smartphone. Besides, the system got pen-based computing support and QWERTY-keyboard. Google especially stressed the fact that the functions and the interface of the new platform are built upon three most important gadget functions for a usual user: notifications, messages, and fitness tracking.
Android Instant Apps Technology
Android Instant Apps, announced at the Google I/O, is a technology that allows you to run applications without downloading them from the Google Play. The user simply clicks the link to the application on his mobile device and it will download everything you need to make this app work without installing it. Android Instant Apps will be available to all owners of devices that run Android 4.2.2 and higher.
Chrome OS and Android Apps
It will be possible to run Android apps on Chrome OS. Because of this, Chrome OS platform’s opportunities will greatly increase and it will cease to look like a browser and start looking more like an actual operating system.
What’s new for developers?
Universal App Campaigns
Google opened the access to Universal App Campaigns for iOS developers. Previously, this access to UAC was available only for the Android mobile developers. At the moment, developers can get a beta version of the UAC and testing program’s participants got the access there.
Firebase, introduced at I/O 2016, is a platform for rapid development of mobile apps that allows to expand the audience and increase revenue. Firebase contains not only the development tools, but also Firebase Analytics, promotion, and monetization instruments.
Now you can easily test how your website looks on mobile devices using a new version of the Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Here you can check out the old version of the testing instrument. Google promises the new one will work faster and more correctly.
In his final speech, Sundar Pichai, head of Google, talked a lot about artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analysis as well as about the digital health. It can be concluded that these are the target areas for the Google’s interest and that’s where their future developments will probably be. We’ll see!