The Top 5 Highlights From Google I/O 2016

Rafia Shaikh
Posted May 19, 2016
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At this year’s I/O, Google’s vision of conversational and interactive technologies was more clear than ever before. Not only did we see a chattier Assistant, artificial intelligence-powered messaging apps, but there was also a focus on Internet of Things and VR as we had expected. Messaging, VR and IoT are some of the hottest technology fronts right now, and Google confirmed that it’s not shy of using its AI capabilities to give all its services, products and platforms an edge over its competitors.

The biggest highlights from Google I/O 2016

There were a number of products, apps, services that were demoed, but here are 5 of the biggest announcements that Google made at I/O 2016.

1- Daydream: mobile-based VR

Daydream is Google’s mobile virtual reality platform, a successor of Google Cardboard. Daydream doesn’t intend to compete against Oculus Rift or Vive (for now) who are focused on PC, since Google presented it as a mobile VR platform that will be baked into Android N. Yep, Android N will now be powering Google’s new VR platform and Google’s OEM partners are already making “Daydream ready” smartphones. From apps to games, Google is offering an entire ecosystem to play around in. You can read more about Google’s VR ambitions, including its headset and controller: Google VR Headset And Controller – Here Is What To Expect This Fall

Google VR Headset And Controller – Here Is What To Expect This Fall

2- Meet Assistant, Allo and Duo

As the event started yesterday, apps were flying everywhere. While VR and Android N did receive their due airtime, it was apparent that Google is trying to get some more successful apps on its name. Before diving into the apps, Google’s first announcement was its new Assistant, a conversational and chattier bot. Searching on Google has always been a one-way street. Meaning that search queries come to an end the moment you initiate them. With Assistant things go up a notch, as the user will engage with Google much like how you engage in a conversation with a real person. For more, Google Announces ‘Assistant,’ Here Are All The Details

google i/o 2016 allo duo

With Hangouts having turned into a super flop, Google now presented its AI-powered messaging app called Allo. Allo is a new mobile-only messaging app (NOT a successor of Hangouts) that allows you to sign up with your phone number. Along with the usual messaging features (them emojis, custom stickers, etc), Allo will let you control the font size of your messages so you can finally stop using ALL CAPS when you are upset over something. Allo also brings the ability to draw on photos and messages that will expire (hello Snapchat). Stressing the importance of privacy, all the messages will be end-to-end encrypted and the app also has an incognito mode. That’s not even all as Google is including its Assistant to increase user productivity by helping them respond to messages intelligently.

Duo on the other hand is a FaceTime rival, which brings a “Knock Knock” feature. With this feature, you will be able to see the video preview of the caller before you even answer the call. Both the apps are tied to phone numbers and will be available on Android and iOS. To learn more about Allo and Duo, read: Google Allo Messaging, Duo Video Calling Apps Announced

3- Instant Apps – the best launch at I/O 2016

Instant Apps is one my favorites from this year’s Google I/O event, which is nothing less than convenience, convenience, convenience! Remember, how we were pushed to install different apps even when we only need them for a minute’s work? Now, developers will be able to reach even more users by cutting this download-and-install crap out of the equation.

google i/o 2016 instant apps

Someone sends you a link that requires you to have a particular app installed? You will simply click on that link and the app will open. This will be possible because Android will only download a tiny bit of the app and present it to the users. It’s so quick and simple that you would feel like opening a URL in a browser. Seamless, quick, wonderful, BRILLIANT! Read more about Instant Apps here: Android Instant Apps Announced – Snippets Of Full Sized Apps That Can Be Run On The Fly

4- Google Home

google i/o 2016

Google really likes to be a competitor of every major company. After launching a FaceTime rival, and possibly a Rift and Vive competitor (it’s not, but who says Google won’t go beyond mobile-only to universal), Google also had to hurt Amazon.

Google Home is a voice-enabled Assistant for the entire family. Similar to its other products, Home will also be able to beat its rivals thanks to Google’s AI expertise. Ask any query and you will get the answer. Not only the product aims to be a super smart Home assistant, but also intends to present itself aesthetically by matching the color of your living room. To learn more, Google Home Is The Latest Competitor To Amazon Echo

5- Android N becomes faster, secure and smoother

Google released the first Android N beta and the third developer preview following yesterday’s event. Since Android N was released to developers over two months ago, we already knew about many of the features. Split-screen multitasking, quick settings button, Quick Switch, Doze on the Go battery-saving mode, 72 new emojis, more control over notifications, picture-in-picture mode and much more was talked about at yesterday’s event. But the highlight? Better gaming support. A new API called Vulcan will make Android N the favorite mobile platform for gaming, allowing devs to directly control a phone’s GPU for better 3D graphics and battery optimizations.

android n beta

The OS won’t be out of beta until later this summer (possibly launching in September) and the name wasn’t announced too. To learn more, read: Security, Productivity and Performance: All About Android 7.0 N. You can also now download 4 new wallpapers and Android N developer preview 3.

Apart from the above, Google also launched Android Wear 2.0, Play Store and Android apps for Chrome, the new Android Auto, and of course Siri-competitor Assistant which actually enhances the capabilities of every other product, including Google Home and Allo.

Many argue that Google hasn’t launched any revolutionary products, but that seems to be the point. We don’t need revolutionary products and ideas coming our way every year. All users need now is products and services that enrich our daily lives, offering convenience and simpler interaction with our devices. Instant Apps, privacy-centered Allo, AI-based Home, all seem to be doing just that. Don’t forget to let us know which were your favorite announcements from Google’s I/O 2016.

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