Google's developer conference has kicked off.
The keynote speech is where we learn what the company has planned for the next version of Android and Google Assistant. The main idea is that Google can get the developer community up to speed with any new hardware it is developing and all the software or updates it plans to push out to products. This gives developers a chance to get their own apps, services, and integrations ready before Google actually launches its stuff.
However, consumers love to watch the show, too, as Google usually makes a few public announcements to get everyone excited. So, what does Google have in store for us in 2018 and beyond? Here's everything you need to know about Google I/O this year.
- Wear OS: Your complete guide to Google's smartwatch OS
- Google Fuchsia OS: What's the story so far?
- What is Android Things and when will the first devices arrive?
- What is Google Assistant and how does it work?
- Gmail 2018 update: All the new features and how to get them now
How to watch the Google I/O
Here is the official livestream:
What happened at Google I/O?
Android P public beta
The Android P public beta is available now on Google Pixel, Essential Phone, OnePlus, Mi, Sony, Essential, and Oppo handsets. As well as announcing Android P will officially launch this autumn, and that the public beta is available now, Google showcased some interesting new software features at its Google I/O developer event. You can read all about those new features from our in-depth guide here.
Gmail's Smart Compose feature
Last year, Google introduced Smart Reply in Gmail to help you quickly reply to incoming emails, but now, it's rolling out Smart Compose, a new AI-powered feature that helps you "draft emails from scratch". It reminds us of Google search's auto-complete function; it suggests sentences for you to add to your emails. It operates in the background, as you write an email, and it offers relevant contextual phrases as you type.
When you see a suggestion that you like, click the “tab” button to use it. Google said it can even reduce spelling and grammatical errors. Smart Compose will appear in the next few weeks. But you need to be using the new Gmail interface that rolled out last month. To get started, go to Settings > “Try the new Gmail.” Next, go to the general tab in your settings, scroll down and enable “experimental access.”
New Assistant voices - including John Legend's
Google has said that six new voices are coming to Google Assistant this year. One of the voices is singer-songwriter John Legend. The company revealed that, thanks to advancements in AI, it can now develop new voices within weeks rather than years.
Good-bye 'Hey Google'
With a new feature called Continued Conversation, which will be available in the coming weeks, you won't have to say "Hey Google" or "OK Google" for follow-up requests. This is all part of a new initiative in which Google is trying to make Google Assistant sound more natural.
Assistant will also be able to understand more complex queries. For instance, with a new feature, called Multiple Actions, you'll be able to ask for multiple things at the same time. That means you'll can ask something like, "What's the weather like in New York and in Austin?" Notice that the query is asking Assistant for two pieces of information in the same question. Until now, it couldn't help with that type of request.
'Pretty Please' mode for Assistant
A new Pretty Please mode for Google Assistant will help ensure everyone in your household is saying "please" and "thank you". When enabled, it responds positively when you say either of those phrases. Pretty Please can be enabled for specific members of your household, so you can encourage your kids to be polite, or you can just play a trick on your spouse as they're setting a timer for dinner without their manners.
However, the function does require that everyone in your home have their voice recognisable for it to identify who to target with it's lesson in manners. It will roll out this summer for all of Google's smart speakers, such as the Google Home, as well as third-party speakers. Google said Pretty Please is an "option for families," and that it'll require Family Link to work. You can read more about Family Link from here.
Google Duplex technology
Duplex improves Assistant so that it can book your appointments for you. Through two demos on stage, Assistant was shown calling a hair salon to make an appointment and then getting a reservation for a restaurant. Assistant even made the phone call on behalf of the user. It also sounded much more human during the calls, doing something as simple as responding with "mhmm" when asked to hold.
Scheduling the reservation was also impressive, as the Assistant waded through questions without a problem. Once a reservation is made, Assistant can let you know the details of it and add it to your schedule. Google is still working on this, but it plans to test it soon.
AR features and Assistant in Maps
Google has shown a prospective new augmented reality feature it could add to Google Maps in future. The company demonstrated the ability to use AR in order to navigate around a city by foot. It uses a combination of the camera, Street View and visual location technology to know exactly where you are, so that when you hold up your phone, you effectively see your directions floating ahead.
Google did not give a timescale on when Google Maps might get this feature, but it did announce something else: Google Assistant is coming to navigation in the Google Maps on iOS and Android this summer. With this integration, you can also ask Assistant to share your ETA while you’re driving, and even do things like send texts, play music, and get information - all from the Maps app.
Google Lens expansion and new features
Google Lens was one of Google's biggest announcements in 2017.
But it was a primarily a Google Pixel-exclusive feature at launch. If you've been waiting for Google Lens to come to more phones, you'll be glad to know that day has finally arrived. You see, at Google I/O 2018, Google announced that Google Lens is coming to a lot more phones.
It will soon be directly added to the camera app on devices from several manufacturers, including LG, Motorola, Xiaomi, Sony, HMD/Nokia, Transsion, TCL, OnePlus, BQ, and Asus. Google Lens will arrive for these phones "in the coming weeks," though how long it takes depends on how quickly each manufacturer updates their devices. Lens also got some new feature, which you can read about from here.