Tech Trends

Google I/O 2018 top 15 highlights – A complete roundup

Sundar Pichai.jpg
Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google I/O, the search giant’s annual developer conference, kicked off on Tuesday.

It began with a two-hour presentation from Google, where top executives took the stage at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California to showcase the latest developments in Android, Google Assistant, Google Maps, Google Photos, artificial intelligence, and much more.

While there were a ton of announcements, these were the 15 biggest highlights from the Google I/O keynote:

1. Gmail can now autocomplete entire emails (!) in a new feature called “Smart Compose” — just keep hitting the Tab button and Google will keep autocompleting your message. You can switch it on right now as part of the new Gmail experience Google is rolling out.


2. A new Google Photos feature called Suggested Actions can spot friends in your photos, and offer to share those photos with those people with a single button press


3. Google Photos is more powerful now. You can instantly turn photos of documents into PDFs. You can also remove color from your photos — even just in certain areas — or re-colorize your old black-and-white photos of your relatives.


4. Google Assistant has made a major breakthrough, according to CEO Sundar Pichai. Soon, it will sound much more natural — in fact, the new voice of Google Assistant coming later this year is none other than R&B star John Legend.


5. Google Assistant is also much smarter now. Thanks to a feature called Continued Conversations, you don’t need to say “OK Google” every time you want to talk to it — just use the command to get the conversation going, and ask as many questions as you like after that. Google Assistant will also remember your past answers, and can now parse multiple questions in a single sentence.


6. Google is rolling a feature parents have been craving for years, since the advent of personal assistants: a politeness feature, where you essentially get credit for saying “please” when you ask for something from Google Assistant. This is designed to teach children not to be bossy when asking for things; when you say “please,” Google will be very kind to you, and even compliment you.


7. Pichai unveiled a wild experimental Google Assistant feature called Duplex : You can ask Google Assistant to call a business on your behalf, and Google’s AI will schedule an appointment for you. Yes this is totally real. Google demoed two phone calls on stage to give people a taste.

8. Google’s new version of Android, called Android P, focuses on something called “digital wellbeing.” Basically, Google wants you to spend less time on your phone and more time with your loved ones, so Android will give you information about how you use your phone, and even create controls to limit screentime, particularly with certain apps like YouTube.


9. If you have subscriptions to multiple publications, newspapers, and online magazines, a new feature called “Subscribe With Google” will let you access all your paid content anywhere: On Google Search, Google News, and on the publishers’ own sites.


10. Google is preparing for future Android phones without buttons. The new Android P has a new navigation system that makes multitasking easier by placing emphasizing gestures instead of buttons. It looks very similar to the way iOS works on the buttonless iPhone X, where there’s a swipe icon at the very bottom of the phone to help you navigate and multitask.


11. Android P has a feature called “Shush” mode: If the feature is turned on, and you put your phone face down on a table, it will automatically activate Do Not Disturb mode.


12. Another smart feature in Android P: If you’re looking at the screen and you rotate the phone, either on purpose or accidentally, a button will pop up to let you rotate the screen. Otherwise, you can keep the display the way.


13. Google showed off some very cool technology for Google Maps that lets you use your phone’s camera to navigate around town using Street View. You can wave your phone in front of you, and you’ll see the Street View version of what you’re seeing on your phone. If you need directions, giant arrows (or even animated characters) can point you where to go next. It’s very much like “Crazy Taxi,” but in the real world.

It’s not clear when, of if, this AR feature will be incorporated into Google Maps.

14. Google announced a cool new feature for its futuristic camera software called Google Lens: Now, if you point your phone’s camera at a book, you can highlight the text with your finger, and copy it to your phone. Yes, really.


15. Google Lens also has a new feature called “Style Match,” where if you point your phone’s camera at an outfit, or even accessories or furniture, Google can use its object-recognition and machine-learning prowess to help you buy that item online, and even show similar styles you might like.


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