The biggest 3 days in Google kicked off on Wednesday. Google I/O is the annual event all Android enthusiasts look forward too. Always held in California, this year’s event was no different. Though it had one notable difference. This was the first time the event would hold after the shake up of the tech firm saw it become a subsidiary under Alphabet. So this is the first time Sundar Pichai would be the head honcho of the event.
As always, the I/O is about new products and the vision of the company for the future. So far, it has lived up to the hype. Numerous new products, and services were showcased to the crowd. And as the participants in the conference start heading home today, the overriding feeling is, the tech giant is really set to continue its phenomenal growth.
Without wasting much time, lets look at some of the notable offerings from this year’s I/O conference.
The idea of the connected home has being around for a long time. Amazon’s Echo is now the industry’s standard. So it was no surprised that there was a rush to compare Home to Echo. These gadgets are the initial stages in the completely connected home initiative. The connected ecosystem is still in its infancy, so to speak.
Read this excellent piece to get a complete picture of what Google Home is all about.
Google assistant can be likened to the software version of Home. While Home is a gadget you can actually see and talk to, Assistant is the software that is completely virtual. It’s competitions in the niche are Siri and Alexa ( the software that powers the Echo).
Sundar Pichai gave a fine demonstration of how Assistant work. To a query about how good the movie ‘Jungle Book’ was and if it was appropriate for kids, Assistant gave a pretty concise answer that covered all the bases. No wonder there is talk that Assistant could be better and smarter than the competition.
Instant Apps could be a dream come true for people who are scared of having too many apps on their phones. The theory is quite simple really; with this feature you can use an app without actually downloading it to your handset. How this would work in the real world would be found out in the next version of Android OS, Android N. So that is a project for the future.
But they are assuring users that creating instant apps would be easy and seamless for developers.
Allo is a messaging app from Google. The question is, is this a clear sign post that Google have lost faith in Google Hangouts and Gchat? Whatever the case, this seems like a ground zero move for the company. However, with Allo, they can now offer end-to-end encryption like other messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber.
Security is not the standout feature of Allo though. It is the built-in chatbots in the app. The chatbots would include the aforementioned Google Assistant itself. Google is promising that Allo is going to blow our collective minds with the features it has.
Duo seems like a spin-off of Allo. I mean, why not just integrate the two of them into one app. Duo is just like FaceTime; which means with this messaging app, users can do video chats. The difference with Google Hangouts (video chat is possible with Hangouts) is that Duo is a mobile-only app. And a user’s account is linked to their phone number not a Google account.
The ‘knock-knock’ feature in the app previews the picture of whoever is demanding to have a chat with you. Giving one the option of ignoring them.
Daydream is another virtual reality platform built on Android N. This one would therefore come only after Android N is in the market. But why is Google building another VR platform when they already have Cardboard. It is likely that Daydream is geared towards challenging the leaders in the VR niche like Gear VR. Which is a direct way of saying Cardboard had too many limitations to be taken as a serious product in the VR world.
And in relation to Daydream, Google showcased a custom-built VR headset. This headset was promoted to give developers an idea of the kind of headset that is most suitable for Daydream. In all likelihood, the Daydream headset would never be sold directly in stores. But you never know. Google might change their mind and start making and selling the headsets. Remember, that was how Nexus started. It was meant to showcase the latest OS from Android. But later, the policy changed. Now you can now buy Nexus directly from stores.
photo credit: bp.blogspot.com; pcadvisor.co.uk