Google I/O kicked off yesterday with their infamous keynote. For anyone with a spare 2 hours, I strongly recommend a watch. Anyone with only 5 minutes, here’s a handy digest.

Headlines

Machine learning is 2018’s buzzword – Last I/O Google announced Google AI and between now and then they’ve been hard at work impressively integrating it across every product in their ecosystem. Each product presentation started with “from advancements in machine learning we are able to…” (hats off to the PR team).

What blew my mind

  • Google duplex – What was probably the most impressive was the google assist being asked to book a haircut then the Ai calling up a real-world hair salon speaking to a human employee and booking the appointment. Even using common sounds such as “umm” and “mhmm”.
  • Google assistant – Now able to have back and forth natural conversation without you saying “hey google” constantly. Even more impressive is that the voices sound very human-like, as opposed to its original voice. Google also explained their focus on improving the family experience with an assistant, through more games, children’s stories and the teaching kids manners.
  • Google Lens – Open up your camera and point it at a book, then using ‘smart text selection’ copy the text directly to your phone. With ‘style match’ you can point your camera at furniture and fashion to see recommendations or go further and point your camera at landmarks, products or even the neighbour’s dog to see what breed it is – all in real-time.
  • Machine learning for self-driving carsGoogle have applied machine learning into their self-driving car technology so that it can spot when a car runs a red light and slow it down, deal with difficult weather such as snow, and even run simulations all day every day, then validate its models within the real world.

Google also explained their focus on improving the family experience with an assistant, through more games, children's stories and the teaching kids manners.

What was awesome

  • Google Ai in healthcare – Helping to provide expert diagnosis in areas which lack it, Google showed a case study of their trials in India where they equip their Ai with an eye scanner to help diagnose Diabetic Retinopathy which is the leading cause of blindness. They’re also running trials using deep learning to predict cardiovascular risk.
  • Digital wellbeing “the joy of missing out” – Announced as a long-term theme, Google wants to help you balance your life and use of technology. They want Ai to help you understand your usage habits, focus on what matters and enable you to switch off and wind down. ‘Take a break reminders’ will nudge you towards putting your device down, in addition, the screen turns grayscale (which apparently helps). One feature I think I could do with is the ‘daily digest’, where notifications are combined into a single daily digest so you don’t get distracted every 5 minutes from emails.
  • AR & Ai Google Maps – Finally an AR version of maps you can use. Google showed off how you can open up the camera and see maps and directions augmented in the real world, along with restaurant recommendations and reviews. They also introduced the playful addition of a fox character which was there to guide you to your destination.
  • Being internet awesome – Google announced the launch of their initiative to help kids become safer explorers of the digital world. Part of the company’s digital wellbeing theme.
  • Google photos Ai – Not only can it suggest who to share photos with but, most impressively it can colourise black and white photos, and do some amazing effects which will get anyone jumping for joy.
  • Google world draw During the waiting period for the event to begin an AI experiment ‘Google World Draw’ was launched, which asked you to draw a world object (of your choosing) for the Ai to try and guess correctly. On success, it turned drawings into 3D objects, placing them in a world with everyone else’s. You could even play a mini-game flying over the world and race other people, with scores displayed on the big screen.

They want Ai to help you understand your usage habits, focus on what matters and enable you to switch off and wind down.

What was standard Google

  • The announcement of Android P – I’m guessing the “P” standards for predictive as the whole operating system is driven by the Google Ai. From predicting what you’re about to do to improving how you engage with search and app content – it’s certainly refreshing and slightly scary!
  • Pretty please – Following on from Alexa’s announcement, Google has also jumped to the challenge of teaching and reinforcing good manners in the home.
  • Morse code added to Gboard – Making google devices even more accessible for people with impairments. The Ai is able to understand morse code and interpret it as requests.
  • Gmail is receiving an AI overhaul – With its new predictive smart compose’ feature, it won’t take you long to write emails.
  • Ai driven google news – Google announced their commitment to quality journalism and providing people with reputable sources, as well as personalising your news to your local area and providing you digests of articles using its Ai.
  • Waymo transportation launch – Self-driving cars are now a reality, Google is launching its Waymo service in Phoenix this year. Order a car from the app, have it pick you up and drop you off at your destination.

Google I/O continues this week. Expect more specific presentations on Immersive tech, with a skew towards AR (over VR).

Making google devices even more accessible for people with impairments. The Ai is able to understand morse code and interpret it as requests.

James

James is PRELOADED’s Head of Design. He is passionate about building inclusive experiences that bring people together, and which educate and entertain.