Google I/O 2016 Review

[UPDATE #1: Added extra facts.]

That’s it for another year!

Google I/O has wrapped up just recently and below are my thoughts on the event itself.

Facts:

  • 7000 people in the crowd.
  • Over 1 million people watching the live stream from China.
  • 25% of Google searches are Voice Searches.
  • Over 200 million active Google Photos users.
  • Over 2 trillion labels have been applied to photos in Google Photos.
  • 24 billion labels are Selfies.
  • 65 billion app installs from Google Play in the last year.
  • 600 Android Smartphone launches in the last year.
  • 1 billion monthly active Chrome mobile users.

Google Assistant:


Be there for users asking them “Hi, how can I help?” Think of it as a conversational, on-going conversation with Google.

This is possible in a Google search if you voice search for a topic and then do a follow up voice search it will know what you are referring to better, then if it were just a separate query.

This is Google’s response to Bots being a big tech trend in 2016 and is definitely a welcome addition to Google and was a great thing to announce at the start to get the crowd going.

Release of this service is later this year, with the beta test carried out on stage.

Google Home:

Enjoy music and entertainment throughout the house, manage everyday tasks and ask Google.

If you know what Amazon Echo is, this is Google’s competitor.

It looks like a really well designed and well thought out in terms of fitting into the home and was really impressed with the video they used to show real-world usage, and will be curious to see the reviews of this when it comes out.

Allo:


Smart messaging app, that learns your conversations over-time. Express yourself in fun ways, Google Assistant built-in, all while being secure.

I like some of the smart features built in, especially the slider for how large you want the text to be and optional responses for photos.

Incognito window (private browsing) is also available, which has encryption end-to-end and delete the conversation when you leave.

What I do question though, is if these features will be enough to convert users from services like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and Twitter DM’s. Time will tell.

Duo:


One-to-one video calling app to everyone.

Companion to Allo.

End-to-end encrypted and works on iOS & Android.

Knock-knock feature does a video before you answer the call so you can see who is making the call.

This seems like a really strong competitor to Google Hangouts (which sounds Google has forgotten about it), Skype on Mobile and FaceTime.

Will be interesting to see how many adopt this new platform, when it is released this summer.

Android N:

androidn

Next version of the Android operating system.

Android N name ideas can be submitted to android.com/n and Google reserves the rights to pick the winner.

Vulkan API is the GPU framework that is superior to OpenGL.

Android Runtime compiler can run up to 600% faster than before and app installs are now up to 75% faster and amount of code needed to be stored for each app by up to 50%.

Multitasking features got a boost including a clear all button and double-tapping recents button opens the last app.

Picture in Picture mode is made for Android TV when it comes to watching content from online services, like YouTube.

Over 250 new features in Android N.

Expected to be launched to the public (on new phones and OTA updates) later this summer.

Overall, there was not really anything new announced about Android N today, that the public did not know about.

Daydream:


Platform for high quality virtual reality experiences.

Platform works via smartphones that do all of the processing power.

Available later in the fall (towards end of 2016).

Daydream is a portal that you go through to get to the content. Think of it like a separate Android home screen where only Daydream compatible VR experiences will be available.

Google Play Movies, Street View, Photos and YouTube all coming to Daydream.

Daydream is really just a platform for developers to create VR experiences for.

Android VR Headset:

Headset has been announced, with very little details/images announced.

Controller is almost like a Wii Remote with very few buttons.

Available this fall.

The headset and controller itself is where I think it’s important, of which was not announced properly today.

Android Wear 2.0:

Watch faces are becoming more like Apple Watch watch faces when it comes to display data from 3rd party apps.

Smart reply with pre-set responses.

Handwriting recognition to write your response.

Will be able to listen to music off your watch while on a run, without a phone.

Apps can be stand-alone which means Wi-Fi to watch instead of Wi-Fi to phone to watch via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Preview is available today and released in the fall.

Seems like a decent update to Android Wear with what seems like a few features that the Apple Watch does best and a couple of new features added. This new software on new hardware, should hopefully improve sales for the Android Wear platform.

Improving Development Tools:

Chrome now has over 1 billion users on mobile. New powerful web-standards for better loading times.

Android Studio is rapidly growing in usage and adapting from Eclipse IDE.

Android Studio 2.2 preview with speed, smarts and platform support improvements.

Emulator is now faster than the phone in your pocket.

Android Studio is now getting a newer drag and drop interface, very much like Xcode, which is one of the main reasons I like Xcode most.

APK analyser, layout inspector and code analysis has new quality checks.

Android Studio 2.2 is available today.

Firebase has grown to over 450,000 developers.

Firebase is now a suite of integrated products.

  • Analytics: Like Google Analytics but for apps.
  • Cloud Messaging
  • Notifications
  • Crash Reporting
  • Remote Config
  • Dynamic Links: Reducing the number of taps required.

New Firebase is available today through a single SDK that works on multiple platforms.

Android Instant Apps:

Downloads necessary app components to view links in the app itself, even if you do not have the app installed on your phone already.

The app downloads only the necessary components to view the content that the link relates too, and easily to install rest of app permanently to the phone.

All applies for people that buy products for example, with Android Pay without previously having the app installed.

Feature is rolled out to users later this year.

Conclusion:

So lots of exciting stuff that was announced today, especially if your a Google or Android developer.

I am particularly looking forward to Google Assistant, seeing how Google Home performs and the changes that are coming in Android Studio 2.2.

How was this compared to previous years? It was closer to a meh then a WOW! but it was not a terrible keynote. Also the fact that they did not show off the Android VR headset was a real let-down for people that expected that. Google Glass launch is still my favourite.

And that’s it for the review.

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