You may never have to book a haircut appointment yourself again
AI—two syllables that are on every technology company’s lips. This was the central theme in arguably Google’s most eventful developer conference—this year’s Google I/O 2018. Here’s all the news you need to catch up on:
This is no lame window-dressing effort but a whole new leap for Android. It builds on three key pillars—simple, intelligent and digital well-being. The first two elements have defined Android for a while now, Google’s Pixel phones are a case in point. Google P does a lot of clever things that will be driven by ‘Actions’ and ‘Slices’. This means that you don’t have to navigate through multiple clicks, thanks to deeper integration for third-party apps with Google’s robust Search function, especially repetitive actions like ordering a meal. Slices, on the other hand are interactive snippets that display key content from the app without having to actually open it.
Android P also offers data on how you’re using your phone, pushes you towards more regulated sleep patterns and helps you take breaks away from the device. It’s not just intuitive, but is the most pleasing UI we’ve seen from Google yet. Can’t wait to try it? You can grab a beta version here if you own a Pixel device or an Android device like the Nokia 7 Plus.
The highpoint of I/O 2018 was definitely when Sundar Pichai introduced a refreshed Google Assistant calling a hair salon to make an appointment. The salon executive couldn’t tell that she was in conversation with a bot—this was not a bot with a robotic voice, but one with real human intonations; and Google Assistant promptly set a calendar appointment once the salon confirmed. This is a killer feature, with several ethical controversies in play, but when it does come into effect (a few years from now), it could alter many of our everyday interactions. We’ll save our verdict for once we test this in the real world.
A few months ago, we first spotted a set of templated responses when you hit the reply button on Gmail. Google has taken it a step further with ‘smart compose’. Gmail goes into a prediction mode by suggesting entire lines for your email, particularly handy when you’re typing boring and repetitive emails. It might sound spooky but it can save you precious time.
Google can now finish your sentences
Google Maps ‘For You’
Maps has acquired a whole bunch of new social skills. A ‘For You’ tab now allows you to keep tabs on what’s trending in neighbourhoods or spaces that matter to you, so you’ll know what new restaurants to check out the next time you’re in that area. Our favourite feature however is Maps’ AR experience that benefits from a blend of AI with Street View data. Maps has also added a helpful new fox, who will guide you around an area or city, particularly friendly to first-time visitors.
News, Photos and Lens get smarter
Photos comes with a whole new suite of editing powers—the ‘colorise’ function can help bring old sepia photos to life, or convert black and white photos into colour.
AI will now drive Google News by collating storylines that match your interests and patterns, but will be conscious to offer multiple perspectives of the same story. You can experience the all-new Google News right away.
Lens will let you copy things from the real world and paste them into your phone—with a cool ‘style match’ feature to scan stuff you fancy. It then tells you where you can buy it online.