Once a year developers, journalists, and general Google/Android fanboys descend on the Bay area to see what Google has been working on behind closed doors for the last number of months. Even with all the speculation and “leaks” that pop up in the blogosphere in the months leading up to the event, it is quite impressive how much of the announcements at Google I/O are total surprises. With only a limited amount of seats at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, we have rounded up the top 5 things you need to know from the event yesterday. Even if you are reading this on your iPad, while checking your Apple watch, and downloading the new Drake album on Apple music, you may be pleasantly surprised with some of Google’s new offerings!
1)N Stands for…Choice?
One of the fun little quirks that we have come to expect from new Android OS’s is their food related names. With a developer version of Android N being sent out earlier this year, rumors have been flying with different N-monikers. Would they use a beloved brand in Nutella, similarly to they way they used KitKat for K? Would they stick with the code name New York Cheesecake? Could it be Nougat or Nachos? Well instead of deciding themselves, they have chosen to take the democratic route and leave the honors up to the public. To vote you can either #NameAndroidN or visit their website here.
2) Google Home powered by Google Assistant
As part of Google’s plan to make your daily life simpler, they have announced Google Home, a home hub aimed at linking all of your connected devices. This vase-shaped device is powered by Google Assistant, an extension of their Google Now technology, which is a voice and text activated digital assistant. Akin to the Amazon Echo, you can ask Google Home who starred in your favourite movie, to play music through connected speakers, or even change the temperature of your house (permitted you own a Google-owned Nest thermostat). And for the design conscious, the base of the device is removable and comes in a variety of colours to match your room’s decor. Sadly, it is unclear whether or not they will be rolling out a floral option to match the pattern of your grandma’s old couch.
3) Android ventures into VR
With all the hype around VR these days with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR, it was inevitable that Google would be coming out with its own version. Already having explored the lower-cost end of the VR spectrum with Cardboard, Google introduced the Daydream. Similar to the Gear VR and Cardboard, Daydream is a headset which is powered by Android phones. However, unlike the Gear VR, Daydream will be compatible with phones from a variety of manufacturers, having already signed contracts with LG, HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, Asus, and Alcatel. You can expect to see this hit the market this fall.
4) Allo and Duo
These two new app offerings from Google are looking to make communicating through mobile much more immersive. Allo is a chat app loaded with multiple new features that take advantage of the aforementioned Google Assistant. The goal of Allo is to learn more about you and make it easier for you to reflect that. As a companion to Allo, Google released Duo which is a video calling app (many are calling it Google’s answer to Facetime). The main feature that separates Duo and it’s competitors is Knock Knock, a feature that allows the receiver to see video of the caller before they have even picked up the phone. This can give the receiver more context to the call, letting you see where the caller is and what they are up to.
5) Everything Else
This event was jam-packed with announcements from many Google departments, and we would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention them.
- You can now open specific parts of apps without installing them by clicking on URLs
- Android Pay can now work on partnered mobile sites
- Android Wear 2.0 was introduced, which looks to allow for standalone apps
- Developers will be excited with new improvements to the Play Store, Android Studio, Firebase, and Google Cloud