Highlights from Google I/O 2018


With Microsoft Build winding down, we’ve shifted over to all things Google as they kick off their annual conference; so here are some of the biggest announcements from Google I/O:

  • Duplex: In a demonstration, Google Assistant made a call to book a hair appointment, with the person on the other end of the line unaware that they were talking to a machine. The Assistant was even able to say “Mm-hmm” when she was asked by the salon employee to hold on. This robot-vocalization breakthrough comes as the result of the Google Duplex AI system, which itself grew out of earlier Deep Learning projects like WaveNet.
  • Photos: Google Photos already makes it easy for you to correct photos with built-in editing tools and AI-powered features for automatically creating collages, movies, and stylized photos. Now, Photos is getting more AI-powered fixes like B&W photo colorization, brightness correction, and suggested rotations. A new version of the Photos app will suggest quick fixes and tweaks like rotations, brightness corrections, or adding pops of color.
  • News: Google is planning to leverage AI in a revamped version of Google News. The AI-powered, redesigned news destination app will “allow users to keep up with the news they care about, understand the full story, and enjoy and support the publishers they trust.” It will leverage elements found in Google’s digital magazine app, Newsstand, and YouTube; and introduces new features like newscasts and full coverage to help people get a summary or a more holistic view of a news story.
  • Assistant: Google Assistant has many updates including integration with Google Maps, available on iOS and Android this summer. The addition is meant to provide better recommendations to users. Another upgrade is for ”Custom Routines”, where Google Home users will soon be able to set their own phrases to kick off a routine and selection of what Google promises are “one million Actions.”
  • Android TV: Google unveiled Android P for the large-screened and set-top box operating system. Android TV now has over 100 partners working on devices such as smart TVs, set-top boxes, cable, and satellite pay-TV operators. Meanwhile, the app and game ecosystem is growing with 3,600+ applications. One of the first devices to feature Android P will be the JBL Link Bar that features an always-on Google Assistant. However, the absolute first device to feature Android will be the developer-only ADT-2.
  • Maps: The redesigned “Explore” tab will be your hub for everything new and interesting nearby. When you check out a particular area on the map, you’ll see dining, event, and activity options based on the area you’re looking at. Tapping on any food or drink venue will display your match, number that suggests how likely you are to enjoy a place and reasons explaining why. Google is using machine learning to generate this number, based on what they know about a business, the food and drink preferences you’ve selected in Google Maps, places you’ve been to, and whether you’ve rated a restaurant or added it to a list.
  • Tensor Processor Unit: Google is rolling out its third generation of silicon, the Tensor Processor Unit (TPU) 3.0. The new TPU is eight times more powerful than last year per pod, with up to 100 petaflops in performance. Intel and Microsoft have been continuously focused on FPGA for machine learning, which is designed to be more modular and flexible as the needs for machine learning change over time.
  • Android P: Google is overhauling the OS’ overall look with Material Design, to a more streamlined and simple OS. Other small changes for Android P include a new zoom lens for fine-tuned text selection, support for inline photos and smart replies, new quick settings toggle for turning alarms on and off, and more. New security updates will prevent apps in the background from accessing your device’s microphone and camera.
  • Instant Apps: Earlier this year, Google launched its beta of Instant Apps for games, which allows players to get a sense of the gameplay before actually installing the full game. As of yesterday, all game developers will be able to build instant apps and showcase them in the Google Play store, and anywhere else a user can tap on a link. Google also has started testing Google Play Instant compatibility with AdWords, so that developers can direct users to their game after they tap on an ad.


Google Maps + AR
Google Maps + AR

  • Chrome OS is now Linux compatible: No more Crouton to launch Linux, just switch the toggle in Settings.
  • Lighthouse 3.0: Uses a new internal auditing engine, that runs your audits under your normal network and CPU settings and estimates how long the page would take to load under mobile conditions.
  • Daydream & AR: ARCore, Google’s platform for augmented reality app development, officially launched in February and is showing more AR apps in the Play Store. However, ARCore compatibility has still been limited to a handful of devices.
  • Gmail on Android & iOS: is getting an automated-response feature called Smart Reply, which lets you choose up to three responses that are based on the received email. The new feature, Smart Compose, will suggest complete sentences within the body of an email as you are writing.
  • AR for Maps: Along with the standard array of ARCore-based gaming offerings, the new AR mode for Maps is arguably one of the first truly indispensable real-world applications. Like a real-time version of Street View, it combines real-world images with map overlays and location-based positioning. There is also an animated guide, shown at Google I/O as a fox, that will lead users the correct way.

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