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Google I/O 2018 Conference Highlights

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28th May 2018 in

The dust has well and truly settled on the Google I/O 2018 developer conference. An eagerly anticipated event which happens annually at its Mountain View, California headquarters.

Unsurprisingly Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Voice Search all featured prominently. But the integration of these elements is where the “wow” factor kicks in.

Sundar Pichai started proceedings with the CEO keynote address. Pulling no punches, he highlighted the need for tech companies to take responsibility for the platforms and services they provide. Deliberately well placed in light of Facebook’s recent privacy debacle.

Then the announcements came thick and fast.

Google Duplex – Google Assistant Making Your Bookings and More

Imagine Voice Search on steroids. Simply using Google Assistant to search for information and give you the latest weather update is so last year.

Google Duplex is a new natural language “AI System for accomplishing real-world tasks over the phone”. It’s the new technology that’s enabling Google Assistant to do conversational tasks like book hair appointments and make dinner reservations. Plus, the interactions are done over the phone with real people. It even understands and adapts to the nuances of people’s speech.

This video sums it up perfectly.

Android P – Android Reimagined

Google has given Android a complete overhaul. At its heart is a much deeper level of personalisation.

The new version of Android, which is due out later this year, aims to predict your device activity and pre-empt your application needs. Make a call to your Mum at 7 pm on Tuesdays? Now it will prompt you to do so. The newly added dashboard will also give you a clearer understanding of your device usage. Time spent, apps used, notifications received. It’ll even let you set timers to limit app usage.

Gmail Writes Your Emails

Aside from some significant design changes, the new feature that had everyone talking was “Smart Compose”.

Predictive text isn’t new. Most of us have been using it for years in text messages on our phones. But now it comes to Gmail in the form of predictive phrases. The range of phrases will be generated using AI based on users previous email messages. Your future emails will almost write themselves.

Google News Curating Your Feed Using AI

News aggregation and curation have always been a difficult minefield to navigate with the extensive amount of spam content available.

The new version of Google News that was unveiled will rely heavily on AI to curate your news feeds. Learning from users’ search and consumption behaviour, it will collect news content that better meets their areas of interest. To combat hoaxes and link bait content, it will present multiple versions of stories and also conduct preliminary fact-checking.

Google Maps Now Augments Your Reality

Find yourself wandering around a new city using Google Maps, and not knowing which way the little blue guide is pointing? (Yes, I’m that guy).

Well, you’re in for a treat. Thanks to the clever integration of AI with Street View, you can use an Augmented Reality (AR) navigational system that will never leave you wondering where you’re supposed to turn.

Google’s also pushing further into the social sphere with a “For You” tab which recommends new venues, trending establishments etc. based on your preferences.

Google Smart Displays Coming Very Soon

The Digital Personal Assistant market is moving rapidly past just smart speakers. With over 500 million devices already loaded with Google Assistant, Google is now releasing a range of Smart Display devices (in conjunction with leading manufacturers like LG, Lenovo, JBL).

These new devices, as the name suggests, will now include screens. So Google Assistant will help streamline your daily routine better than ever before.

These were just some of the many highlights from an innovation packed Google I/O Conference. Add to that AIY, Google Lens that copies real-world text, a new Android Things 1.0 operating system, and the list goes on.

There’s no doubting Google’s clear focus on becoming the world’s dominant proponent of AI. They’ve made it clear that AI isn’t a thing of the future, it’s here now and pretty amazing!

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