Don’t tell Lily and Cass but Google I/O is a contender for one of the most enjoyable evenings of the year. Google’s annual reveal and developer conference is streamed online throughout three nights but the first couple of hours usually gets the big news going. I’ve just sat through three cups of green tea, 3 programming languages and much geekery and there’s a few announcements that will probably be interesting to everyone.
Google Lens was launched. This is an Android app that can read or understand what ever you point your camera at. They used examples of identifying flowers, automatically filling in wifi details and pointing your camera at a restaurant to get reviews. It’s backed up by cloud AI and if it works as well as Google
Google Assistant is going mainstream – it’s being built into a number of electronics and even coming out on the iPhone. It’s also being translated into a number of languages and being given camera access to work with Lens, the ability to handle money and pay for things.
Google Home is launching in Canada, Australia, France, Germany and Japan. Its getting four new features. Proactive assistance – automatic notification of timely information even when you don’t ask for it. The example they used was the Home telling you you had to leave to get to your next appointment. Hands-Free Calling of any landline number in the US or Canada for free – it’s not clear if this is in the UK. Spotify Free, Soundcloud and Deezer are being added as primary music services and Bluetooth is being enabled to communicate with your phone. There is also integration with a number of new video services but this seems to be US only. Finally Google Home is getting a visual element – it will be able to push images or info to your phone without prompting. The example they showed was directions to your next appointment being pushed to your phone.
The Photos app got some stage time. Google focused on sharing. Photos will now suggest photographs that should be shared and who to share them with. Take a group photo and Photos will work out who’s in it and suggest sharing it with the group. There’s also a new shared Library option that can let photos be shared automatically. This can be a whole library, restricted to particular people or specific dates or from a specific point onwards.
Youtube showed up touting their billion users with over a billion hours a day watched. They billed themselves as the worlds largest on demand service and as the largest live streaming service.
Google showed off a new Daydream VR headset. This one doesn’t use a mobile phone but is an entire standalone headset. There are two versions being built by HTC and Lenovo although there isn’t any info on when they’ll be available and how much they’ll cost.
All in all Google hasn’t blown me away this year. Lots of announcements but they’re all vague on cost and timing and I’m going to bet very few of them are going to come to the UK in the near future. There’s still most of today and two more days to go and I’m still hoping for gems.