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5 biggest things to come out of Google I/O 2019

Smarter voice assistants, incognito map searches and 3D augmented reality. Those are just some of the new products, features and updates being unveiled at Google’s I/O developer conference. Throughout the conference, artificial intelligence was at the core of almost all new and updated software products.

Google also introduced new hardware, most notably Google Nest Hub and the Google Pixel 3a smartphone. Google Nest Hub is the new name of the Google Home Hub and it has new features to distinguish it from its predecessor. The Pixel 3a is a much more affordable version of the Pixel 3 XL.

Google makes search and Lens improvements

You will soon be able to see some Google images in augmented reality. When you’re in Google images, start looking for an icon that looks like a camera’s crosshairs. That lets you know the images are augmented reality content.

Tap on the image and there will be a button labelled “View in your space.” Selecting that option will allow you to view the image in 3D.

New features have also been added to Google Lens. There is now better support for Lens in restaurants.

Just point your phone’s camera at a menu, and Lens will automatically highlight popular dishes, select individual dishes and Google Maps will also show you photos and reviews. When it’s time to pay, point your camera at the bill and Google Lens will bring up a menu to help you calculate the tip or split the bill.

The Assistant is smarter

Three years ago, Google introduced the Assistant, an artificial intelligence-driven voice helper. This year, Google previewed its “next-generation” Assistant. As was demonstrated, the next-gen Assistant answers questions up to 10 times faster than the original one. Along with being faster, the new Assistant is smarter thanks to Google’s neural network research and speech recognition.

In addition, you can add family members to a list of close contacts, so when you ask Assistant for directions to a friend or relative’s home, Assistant will know the name of the relative and where she lives.

Currently, the Assistant is on one billion devices, as it comes preinstalled on phones running Android.

Keeping a low profile

You already know with the Google Chrome web browser you can go into “incognito mode.” That allows you to browse the internet without linking activity to your Google account.

Now, you can go incognito while using Google Maps and YouTube. All you’ll have to do on the apps is click your profile picture and you’re in incognito mode.

Just as with Chrome, you can watch videos or look up locations without linking activity to your account. However, you should note that incognito mode doesn’t stop your internet provider or employer from seeing your browsing history.

Let Duplex do the work

Mobile browsers now support Google’s new version of Duplex. Using a human-sounding voice, Duplex conducts various tasks for you, such as making reservations for dinner. Now, Duplex can execute tasks from your mobile browser.

At the developer’s conference, Google displayed this new feature. If you say, “Book me a rental car” on your phone, not only will Duplex find your favorite rental car company, it also will auto-fill your information on the company’s website, choose your favorite car and select add-ons. How does Duplex know you so well? It searches through previous rental confirmations in your Gmail.

Google Home becomes Google Nest

Formerly called Google Home Hub, Google Nest Hub now has a 10-inch HD screen and Google Assistant. The screen, called Nest Hub Max, also comes with a built-in Nest Cam that you can check when you’re away from home. Using Face Match, Nest Hub will alert you when it sees someone who isn’t in your family. It also provides personal calendars and playlists.

Perhaps even more helpful is the Hub’s Quick Gestures feature. By using hand gestures, you will be able to control playback on the Assistant’s speaker. For example, raise your hand to pause music and use the same gesture to resume the song. This is especially helpful if it is too noisy for Assistant to hear spoken commands.

Affordable Pixel camera

If you love the Pixel 3 XL but it’s too rich for your blood, Google now has an inexpensive option. During the conference, Google unveiled the Pixel 3a.

The Pixel 3a has many of the features found in the Pixel 3, such as the cutting-edge camera. The major difference is the Pixel 3a’s smaller size, but it also puts less of a dent in your wallet. The Pixel 3a retails at $400, while the Pixel 3 sets you back $800. The Pixel 3a will be available through various carriers this week.

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