Google I/O 2018: AI Takes Over The First Day Highlights

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The first day of annual Google I/O developers conference wrapped up promising some groundbreaking developments. CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off his official keynote by recognizing how the company has a “deep sense of responsibility” about the products and services it creates. Big announcements related to Google Assistant, Gmail, Youtube, AI and other Google products started pouring in as the search engine giant revealed everything it has been working on since last year.

Just before the proceedings, Google announced that it is re-branding its research division to Google AI. The move is tantamount to the company’s focus on natural language processing (NLP), neural networks, and computer vision.

Google Assistant has become smarter and also has manners now. Android P – the latest Android flavour is on its way. Gmail has gotten more adept. Although like last year, the big theme was AI and ML, but this time Google has gone all in on artificial intelligence as the results are nothing but brilliant. Here’s a rundown of the major developments on 8th May –

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  • Talking to the Google Assistant has become more natural with “continued conversation”.

People who frequently use the Assistant won’t have to say ‘Ok Google’ or ‘Hey Google’ every time they have to say a command, but just once. Google is adding features that will allow the user to give multiple instructions to the Assistant within the same request.

Google Assistant will make more natural interactions which will be more like human conversation. The Assistant is to come up with six additional natural sounding voices, including of John Legend. Also, the Google Duplex is a next-level AI stuff. The technology is quite similar to Amazon Alexa but has a startling response when it comes to AI smarts. It can be used for calling salons, restaurants for making appointments and reservations etc.

  • Youtube and Google Assistant are coming to smart displays this summer.

Google’s smart displays powered by Assistant and Youtube will be launching in July this year. The voice interface will get a kind of visual display and Youtube’s company seems fair enough. Amazon Echo Show could take a jab from Google’s smart displays, since the companies share a contemptuous relationship.

  • The one and only Android P.

Speculations were that the new flavour gets its name from Popsicle. Going by the history of Android version names, don’t be surprised if Google has something sweet to offer. Android P’s design is simpler, but it exhibits an iPhone X-like gesture navigation. All the swiping actions and slices have changed the way of interacting with the apps. The three-button navigation on the bottom has been replaced by a single home button. A new utility dashboard will show you “how you’re spending time on your device, including time spent in apps, how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, and how many notifications you’ve received.” It sort of means that the new Android will prevent us from using our smartphones too much. It will also feature a “shush” mode which will turn-off all pings, notifications, buzzes, and sounds if you rest the device on its screen.

Android P is expected to arrive later this summer, but a public beta has been launched yesterday and will be available to a few devices from Google, Essential, OnePlus, Sony, Nokia and more.

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  • With Smart Compose, Gmail can draft emails by itself (almost).

The smart reply feature has expanded to a more ambitious level. Smart Compose uses AI to help you write emails from scratch faster. The new feature will give suggestions for complete sentences as you start typing.

  • Google Photos get smart editing powers with AI boost.

The Google Photos will be revamped to introduce features like black & white photo colourization, and ability to separate subjects from the background in pictures. The AI-powered capabilities will offer quick fixes like rotations, adding pops of colour, and brightness corrections.

  • Google Map Updates

Maps have become more personalized offering better recommendations to users. The integration of camera and computer vision technology has given more immersive experience of using Maps. The upcoming features will give you better recommendations of a specific neighbourhood and local places. Google has also added Augmented Reality (AR) in Maps which will give you an interactive turn-by-turn experience when you are on the move.

The Google Lens lets you point your camera in the real world and identify almost anything from a written text, to a building, or even dog breed.

  • Google News – gets an AI-powered curation.

The news destination will leverage information from Newsstand, Google’s digital magazine app and Youtube, and will deliver a “range of perspectives” with new features like ‘newscasts’ and ‘full coverage’. The company says, “it uses artificial intelligence to analyze all the content published to the web at any moment, and organize all of those articles, videos, and more into storylines. It spots the ones you might be interested in and puts them in your briefing.”

  • Google unveils ML Kit.

Its an SDK (Software development kit) for app developers so that they can add all the AI smarts and Google’s ML tools in iOS and Android apps. The models support face detection, text recognition, image labelling, landmark recognition, and barcode scanning.

Unsure about the time, but we will certainly be able to play with these features in near future. This was just about the day 1, still, 2 days and some major breakthroughs remain to be seen at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California.

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