What's Coming Next From Google?

Category: Tech-News

Google I/O, the annual conference of Google developers, took place from May 18 to 20, 2016. This event is billed as “an immersive, three-day experience focused on exploring the next generation of technology, mobile and beyond.” It's mainly a status update on the many projects that Google has in the works. Some are still far over the horizon; others will be available this year; and one or two actual products you can get your hands on now may be announced. These highlights of Google I/O 2016 provide a tantalizing glimpse of what to expect and where Google is headed…

Visions Of Sugarplums From Google I/O 2016

Personal digital assistants, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, are all the rage. Google Assistant is replacing Google Now as the personal assistant app baked into Android mobile devices. Assistant, the company claims, is much better than Siri or Cortana at handling complex queries and understanding natural language.

Here are some examples of what Assistant can do: A couple might ask Assistant for nearby movies and get a list easily. If they add, “Let’s bring the kids!” Assistant will filter the search results to include only kid-friendly rated movies.

A general question about the Washington Monument can be followed by, “Take me there,” and Assistant will launch a virtual tour of the destination. If you show Assistant a picture of a building and ask, “Who designed this?” it will understand the context and tell you, without you having to tell Assistant the building’s name.

Google I/O 2016 highllights

Google Assistant for Android and iOS is scheduled to be released this summer, along with Allo, a “Googleized” instant messaging app that includes several interesting features.

“Smart replies” is one Allo feature that will save users enormous amounts of time and keystrokes. Among other things, Allo can recognize photos and reply with a (hopefully) appropriate canned response. Get a pic of a dog? Allo may reply to it, “Awww, cute!” Working with Assistant, Allo will recognize opportunities to be helpful (that is, display targeted ads) in conversations between users. If two users are discussing Italian food and “after work,” for example, Allo and Assistant will suggest nearby restaurants.

Whispering Through the Fence

“Incognito chat” is significant for the privacy-conscious. In this chat mode, nothing that is exchanged between the chatting parties is stored on any third-party server where it might be subject to subpoena. Cue FBI Director James Comey’s next meltdown!

Google Home, competing with Amazon Echo and other home-based, voice-controlled digital assistants, will follow closely upon the release of Google Assistant and Allo. Both will be built into Home. I just wrote about Google Home on May 19.

Google Duo, slated for release this summer, will provide video calls with end-to-end encryption. Also -- and I’m not sure I like this -- Duo will show video of what you are doing to the person you are inviting to a video call before he/she accepts or declines the video call. Most likely, you're just staring at the screen, waiting for the other party to answer. But… I hope that feature can be turned off.

Android N, the next version of Google’s mobile operating system, is still in the vague “sometime in the next few months” category. But it is going to include something truly game-changing! Users will be able to get the latest Android updates and security fixes directly from Google, without having to wait months (or forever) to get them from cellular service providers. Other Android N features include enhanced quick-reply notifications, new emoji, better battery management and multi-window support, improved graphics performance, and more secure file-based encryption.

Google Daydream, the virtual reality system, is still a pipe dream with no VR hardware released or scheduled for release. Google will “soon” release Daydream specs so that hardware manufacturers and app developers can get busy making the Daydream real.

Wear the Future on Your Sleeve

Android Wear 2.0 (the software platform for smartwatches and other wearable tech) is available now to developers but release to the general public is still up in the air. It sports a sleeker interface, a new app launcher, improved auto-replies for faster texting, enhanced fitness tracking, and some other features we needn’t worry about before they’re on retailer’s shelves.

Speaking of wearable tech, Google and Levi-Strauss touted their joint project, which Levi christens The Commuter Jacket to emphasize its safety utility to drivers and bicyclists. Just touch various parts of this rakish garment to place or receive calls; ask questions of Assistant; access navigation aids; and more. It even has a retractable USB-C cable for recharging, something nice to have up your sleeve.

The Android Auto navigation and entertainment app will no longer require an Android Auto-compatible car. Instead, you’ll be able to prop your phone in a dashboard dock, start up Auto, and use GPS, call contacts, stream music to Bluetooth speakers, and so on, no matter what kind of car you drive.

Instant Apps may alleviate “app creep,” the proliferation on a phone of apps that are installed but used only rarely, or even just once. Instant Apps will let you use an app hosted on a cloud-based server instead of downloading and installing it.

You can view the Google I/O 2016 keynote, and many other presentations from that event on YouTube. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "What's Coming Next From Google?"

Posted by:

23 May 2016

It's a brave new world out there!

Posted by:

23 May 2016

In order for Allo to answer or respond to the second request, will you have to hit another button? Or, will it just be listening to the conversation and recognize that you are asking it a second question or adding information for the request? If it is the latter, then Google is getting waaaaaaay too much information. I've been okay with Google and their gathering of data. It is my choice. It helps keep the internet free. But, I'm starting to become a little uncomfortable if I don't even get to decide when it is gathering information.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Allo doesn't answer automatically. It gives you one or more suggestions, and you then must confirm to send.

Posted by:

Kathaline Hansen
23 May 2016

I have an older version of Android. Will I be able to use these features with it? Will it read choices out loud? Needed for those who can't read screen.

Posted by:

Tom Janzen
23 May 2016

One of the main reasons I just bought a Nexus 6P is for the instant system updates. Now with Android N everyone gets them?

Posted by:

Jay r
24 May 2016

So much for being special, Tom. I look forward to having instant updates with my instant coffee and instant oatmeal in the morning. I really hope that the remainder of 2016 goes better for you than this ignominious event the threatens do drag you down to the ranks of the Hoi Polloi. (Oh, please Lord, let me click the Comment box only once.)

Posted by:

Not Jay R
24 May 2016

Come on Mr. Moderator, wasn't it funny?

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