Google just held its biggest conference of the year – the 2018 I/O Developer Conference in Mountain View, California. At each I/O keynote, Google showcases its cutting-edge developments in consumer technology.
Hit or miss, Google never shies away from showing off its ambitious software and hardware projects. It’s always fun and oftentimes, mind-blowing, to see what the tech giant is working on behind its little tech workshops.
Unlike other tech giants who would rather play it safe during their keynotes, Google always manages to push the envelope further each time.
From advancements in artificial intelligence to the latest Android build to self-driving cars, here are the 10 Google 2018 I/O announcements we’re most excited about.
1. Android P
As expected, Google announced tons of new features for Android P, the latest version of its Android operating system. The developer preview of Android P has been available for quite some time, but non-developers with compatible gadgets can now join the public beta.
Sadly, there’s still no word from Google on what the letter P will stand for. (Most probably Popsicle. Or maybe Pop Tart? How about Pancake?)
Here are the best bits about Google’s Android P announcements during the conference:
Android’s navigation is getting a big makeover in P. The three ever so familiar navigation buttons (back, home, app switcher) will be replaced with a simpler gesture-based interface.
Don’t worry, the “home” button will still be in Android P but it will double as a swipeable slider (ala iPhone X). The back button will still show up within apps.
Also included is a rotation setting that lets you choose which apps could auto-rotate.
Digital Well Being
Another feature that’s making its debut in Android P is a theme called Digital Well Being.
In an effort to make you mindful of how much you use your smartphone (and maybe use it less in effect), Android P will have a new Dashboard that will track how much time you’re spending on your gadget, including stats like time spent in apps and how many times you’ve unlocked your phone.
The new Dashboard will also allow you to set daily usage limits and even set the maximum number of minutes you’re allowed to use your apps. When you’re close to the time limit, the app will “wind down” and eventually pause itself.
Android P’s Do Not Disturb mode will get enhancements like the “Shush” feature that will automatically turn Do Not Disturb when the phone is turned face down. You can also elect to stop visual notifications, audio notifications, and vibrations in Android P’s Do Not Disturb mode.
More Artificial Intelligence
Google is taking artificial intelligence powered features to the next level with Android P.
Powered by DeepMind, AI will now help you save battery life by learning your app usage patterns (Adaptive Battery), set your brightness (Adaptive Brightness), and predict your actions (App Actions).
2. Waymo self-driving taxis
Google announced that its self-driving Waymo taxi service will soon launch in Phoenix, Arizona.
Waymo has already deployed self-driving cars with no human drivers in Phoenix via its early-passenger program. Now, it is planning on introducing a driverless passenger-pickup service in the same city by the end of this year.
This means customers in Phoenix will soon be able to hail a fully autonomous self-driving Waymo taxi and take it to their destinations. Wow, this will be truly mind-blowing. Can’t wait.
3. Google Duplex
Everyone who’s dreaming of a Jarvis-like personal assistant will be blown away with Google’s Duplex demo.
Using artificial intelligence, deep learning, and extremely natural sounding text-to-speech, Google showed off what the future of Google Assistant can do.
In the demo, Google Assistant made a real phone call to a hair salon and scheduled an appointment with incredibly human-like speech. The conversation was so natural, you wouldn’t have guessed that a virtual assistant was on the other end of the line!
4. Gmail Smart Compose
While an extremely human-like virtual assistant is impressive, how about email that writes itself?
That’s Google’s plan with Gmail’s Smart Compose feature. It uses AI and machine learning to predict and suggest, not just the words, but entire phrases for you to use in your messages. While this doesn’t exactly write emails, it’s awfully close.
5. Google Maps
Google Maps is also getting a social media overhaul by showing trending restaurants, bars and businesses around you (ala Yelp or Foursquare). Locations can then be shared via a new shortlist feature that lets you and your friends choose a venue from a list.
Maps is also getting a new “Your Match” scoring system that will predict how much you’d like a restaurant based on your rating history.
6. Augmented Reality directions
Aside from its Yelp-like features, Google Maps is also getting real-time Augmented Reality (AR) directions. With this, an overlay on your smartphone’s display will give you turn-by-turn directions as you walk around an area.
7. Smart Displays with Assistant
Taking a cue from Alexa and the Amazon Show, Google is launching its own Smart Displays with Google Assistant. The first generation Smart Displays will be launched in July.
8. New voices for Google Assistant
Google Assistant is also getting more fun voices! Aside from the original Assistant voice we all know and love (known as “Holly”), six additional voices will join the mix. What about celebrity voices you may wonder? Well, don’t worry, the smooth stylings of John Legend’s voice is coming to Google Assistant later this year.
9. Google Photos
New AI-based features are also inbound for Google Photos. Soon, you will be able to do cool tricks like automatically separate subjects from the background. And even more impressive, Google Photos can also colorize old black and white photos and automatically restore and clean them up.
10. Google Lens copy and paste
Here’s another stunning new feature if implemented properly. You can soon point your smartphone’s camera at real-world text, then copy and paste it into any text field in your smartphone. This has tons of practical uses – Wi-Fi passwords, street signs, billboard phone numbers, book highlights – the possibilities are intriguing.
In other tech news, Microsoft is finally rolling out its MAJOR Windows 10 update
After a few hiccups along the way, the next major Windows 10 update is finally starting to roll out. Now officially known as the “Windows 10 April 2018 Update”, Microsoft is bringing a number of new features to Windows 10. Click here to read more about it.