Google’s recent annual developer conference, Google I/O, gave us a sneak peek into the inner workings of their empire. We saw how in the not too distant future, Google Assistant will be making calls and writing emails for us, and how augmented reality will seriously level-up Google Maps.
On one hand, the conference was a not-so-subtle reminder of the tech giant’s continued oligopolistic reign over all things internet. On the other hand, it was really cool.
At Keep Left, we love tech. We love the way it makes our lives easier and better connected, but also the way it makes us more efficient at what we do best: getting the right messages in front of the right people, in the right way and at the right time.
After much internal debate, here’s a run-down of some of our favourite (read: coolest) technologies unveiled at this year’s Google I/O.
One of the most widely discussed technologies revealed at Google I/O was Google Duplex, which enables the Google Assistant to make and hold a phone conversation with a real, live human all by itself. The most impressive part? It doesn’t even sound remotely robotic.
As Google CEO Sundar Pichai alluded to during his presentation, the ramifications of this technology are incredible. It goes beyond making an appointment at the hairdresser or booking a table for dinner. It could help small businesses without an online booking function. It could help people who cannot make phone calls due to disability or anxiety. Down the line, it could make calls in other languages.
It’s a technology that has the power to revolutionise the way we live, work, travel and communicate with those around us, and for some of us it could be at our fingertips in the next few months.
Google Lens has been around for a while, but the new version is even beta (unlike our puns), analysing everything your phone sees before you even capture an image. If you point your phone’s camera at a piece of art or a beautiful building, Google Lens can tell you what it is. If you point it at a dress you love, it’ll tell you where to buy it. Point it at a photo of a musician and it will offer you the option to play a music video by the artist.
— Google (@Google) May 8, 2018
But what got our team even more excited is that Google Lens will also be able to interpret written words. If it’s the page of a book, it’ll allow you to copy and paste the text it sees. If it’s a handwritten note or a menu in a restaurant, it’ll allow you to copy text from the real world to your phone. Think of the time saving after those whiteboard sessions! Think about how much more legible V’s handwriting will be.
Plus, Google Lens will be built inside the camera app instead of in Google Photos, so you won’t even need to open a new app to use it. Google Lens Beta will be rolling out across 10 different Android phones in the coming weeks (WEEKS!), so if you have an LGE, Motorola, Xiaomi, Sony Mobile, HMD/Nokia, Transsition, TCL, OnePlus, BQ, Asus or Google Pixel… watch out!
Google Maps has been assisting the hopelessly lost and the directionally challenged for years now, but the latest updates will make it even easier for people to navigate areas they don’t know well. Google found that GPS was no longer cutting the mustard, and so have been investing in a new technology called VPS, or Visual Positioning System. It uses the visual features in the environment around you to recognise local landmarks and get you back on track.
But it’s not all about the destination. Google will pair AI with Street View to give an interactive AR experience, enabling you to make your journey from A to B with more knowledge and confidence. Whether it’s giving you information about the shops along your route or a friendly companion to show you the way, the new Google Maps will help you feel like a local in no time.
One of the core Google products which is being redesigned with AI is Gmail. Google announced it would be adding a feature called Smart Compose to Gmail, which uses machine learning to draft your email as you type. It understands the subject you’re talking about and makes recommendations based on it, and will use the information it knows about you, such as your address, to make suggestions. To accept a suggestion, all you need to do is hit tab.
It’s a bit like predictive text but a million times better.
So there we have it. Google will soon be writing our emails, calling our hairdressers, and advising us on our home interiors. Is it scary, or is it cool? OK Google…