Another May, another Google I/O now in the books. It has been one helluva Google-packed week in Mountain View at the company’s HQ for all of us working behind the scenes at Droid Turf given the amount of important coverage rolling off at Google I/O 2018. Now that the event has concluded, it’s time to reflect on what we learned this week, what’s coming in the next year and some things we wish Google had spent a little more time addressing during this year’s three-day event. Without further ado, here is our full recap of everything you need to know.
Google is known for best-in-class software used on billions of devices daily by people all over the world. But the search giant isn’t just a search engine and service provider, and this year more than ever it made sure we left knowing its vision for the future. Google is taking an AI-first approach to technology in hope to bring true innovation to the whole industry. Google wants to bring us to new places through inspiration by providing opportunity for everyone to create. Google feels it is responsible for providing users diverse experiences with AI and deep learning that improves with time and use. At this year’s show, we learned a little about everything, but more importantly, how AI is being implemented in various places to make lives easier. This starts with a new training course for students of the next generation that can learn from a new program that teaches the necessary skills for modern development and engineering. Google CEO also showed how it can separate overlapping voices of two people using AI to make messages easier to understand. Additionally, the search giant discussed more meaningful impacts AI is having on us including advancements being made in the medical field that can detect illnesses and learn from symptoms to better treat people who are sick. This is undoubtedly the next chapter to be written and the next road Google is paving for future products and experiences that will benefit us all.
Every year, all of us at DT very much look forward to this week, and you should too. It’s when we get a better look at the projects Google has been working on over the last year and the direction the company is going in with its major focuses for the year to come. This year was no exception to that and we learned both a little about Google’s past, and a little about its future. Google’s mission changes slightly from year-to-year based on the evolution of products and software, but now looks to be a pivotal point in the company’s history as we approach a world where digital assistants give us access to personalized search, and connected IoT objects everywhere assist us with what we want, when and wherever we need it. Increasingly over the years, Google has been responsible for organizing massive amounts of data. And to further improve user experiences, the company has used data to provide us with hardware products they believe we’ll enjoy. This bringing together of both software and hardware lets us capture and see the world in a new dimension, and we’re optimistic about future possibilities and the potential here out.
Sure Google still works on many side projects as does its parent, Alphabet, but its primary goal is really to bring these new contextually aware technologies to the hands of as many people as possible through its apps and products, and now, those made by others. It’s no easy task, especially considering the many barriers Google has had to overcome. But no open system comes without challenges, and by giving customers the openness and freedom they desire despite how difficult it can make things, well, it shows the personality of the Google brand and commitment to delivering customers what they want. Google is all about finding new ways to do things, and sometimes not just for its users, but for itself and others in the industry. The company made its message clear and through adversity and change, it has remained very much the same– openness, choice, and innovation from everyone. The same can not be said about other Silicon Valley giants, and this has given Google its strong culture and loyal following, which proudly tops every other company in the world.
Google began this year’s I/O conference for developers with its keynote address. Out the gate came the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, followed by a handful of dedicated and passionate Google executives. As it usually does, this year’s show began with executives announcing achievements and milestones from the past year including the growing popularity of cross-platform services. I thought it was also brilliant that Google capitalized on the Grandma obsessed with Google Home and ran the video clip on stage during the keynote that got everyone in a good mood. Not all services Google releases become a hit, but some have indeed come a long way since their beginning and Google isn’t stopping the journey here. We’ve highlighted some of the major admiring accomplishments below that were noted during the show.
- Google Maps: 220 territories mapped, 1B+ users, 9B+ connections, 1B+ calls, 3B+ requests
- Google Photos: 5 billion photos viewed per day
- Gboard: 8 billion auto corrections
The general consensus has been a shift from desktop usage to mobile and other internet connected devices. Google expects this movement to continue in the years ahead, and has positioned itself well to be prepared for whatever time brings. What the company has done in such a small time frame including its total reach of people around the globe, no other company has been able to accomplish. The loyalty and usage statistics are unbelievably staggering and continue to increase.
During the company’s keynote, other notations were made regarding the adoption of Google’s software platforms, some new, some old. To take things even further, Google announced a handful of partners at the event including some third-party OEMs and a handful of developers. All share the common goal of expansion. Whether it be to people in emerging markets, to more devices, or to more platforms, everyone is looking to get involved and has the momentum needed to make Android your everywhere. We’ve highlighted the most significant and impressive achievements below.
- Android: 10 years of existence!
- Google Assistant: 500 million devices
- Waymo driver-less cars: 6 million miles on public roads, 5 billion miles in simulation
While these statistics are rather diversified and can be looked at in a handful of ways, it’s great to see that even some of the smaller platforms and projects by Google have grown in some way. Not all will be gaining updates right now, but Google isn’t giving up like we thought they might on the sub-par performers. The search giant has a lot on its mind, but is doing the best it can for the majority of people and on what’s most important.
Following the introduction of each product category and Google’s opening to the day’s events, the company shifted focuses to what’s coming next. Many were excited and started cheering once Google began talking about its plans for the next year and beyond, and there were some big announcements this year about what the future will hold for everyone and it’s all about “saving time” according to Google. Android first debuted 10 years ago and today it’s the world’s most adopted and used platform (desktop or mobile) globally. There have been tens of thousands of Android smartphones since the platform’s birth, and now all kinds of devices from car units to wearables and TV dashboards. The Android P Developer Preview that first launched for developers and OEMs back in March received its first update in addition to the much-demanded open beta program. This will allow owners of select devices like Pixel and now some from third-party OEMs to enroll, test and report on feedback for the upcoming version of the operating system before it releases this fall. The platform update is more major in comparison to previous versions, including new features like UI tweaks, a fresh launcher, a new Markup feature for screenshots, a relocation of the clock, notch support, a refreshed notifications panel, a new settings menu, updated volume controls, indoor positioning with Wi-Fi RTT, enhancements for notifications and notification channels, and more. At the show, Google also demoed new features in preview two like adaptive battery, adaptive brightness, app actions with slices, a new ML Kit, improved multitasking, auto-adjusting media volume, dashboard for well being, enhanced Do Not Disturb, and a new Wind Down mode.
Many Google apps and services are to receive updates. Some of these updates are rolling out now, others will begin in a few weeks and more will be updated later this year or in the coming months. One of these is Gmail, which received a major overhaul just prior to the show across all platforms. However, a new feature called Smart Compose will roll out next month, which uses AI to complete emails in real time. It’s like smart replies to a whole new level. Google Maps is already getting new features that will blow your mind and more are coming in the next year. Google Photos is as well, bringing with it Smart Actions that are super cool. There’s a brand new Google News app that’s rolling out now that will shape the world and how we read news everyday, and Google Assistant Smart Displays are just around the corner to merge third-party smart speakers with a new Google Assistant user interface for at a glance information.
Also showed off at Google I/O were the new emojis in Oreo thanks to an “urgent” update by the search giant. The Google Assistant is also gaining new functions on both the smartphone and everywhere else including six new voices and integration in other apps. The same goes for Google Lens, Google’s image recognition software, which is finally beginning to show its true potential and will soon make way to more devices through the camera app. Google also talked a lot about self-driving vehicles and an upcoming service run by Alphabet company, Waymo. It will be available later this year beginning in Phoenix.
Over the last week, we have heard about a range of Google topics. But, there were some things we did not hear much about that we were hoping for. Some of these were Allo, Duo, the rumored YouTube Remix and Google Chat services, the future of Wear OS, Daydream VR, Google Home, and Android TV. But did we really need upgrades to these? It would have been nice to get some clarification as to where Google stands with these services, but just because they didn’t choose I/O to talk about them, doesn’t rule out the possibility of them receiving updates or being addressed later this year. Similar to last year and the year before, Google could hold another big event in the fall to announce hardware upgrades like the Pixel 3 smartphones we’re hoping for, a mid-range Pixel phone for emerging markets, successors to various Made By Google accessory lineups like Daydream View, Google Home, Pixelbook and others. At this time, Google could also roll out much of the software talked about this week that simply became available to test as a beta and not for the public, such as Android P. There have also been a bunch of rumored products that we could see later in the year like Nest cameras, a new Android TV box (Pixel Player) and a Pixel smartwatch.
What did you think of this year’s event? Was it better than last year? Did Google exceed your expectations? Personally, I enjoy this event every year and think it’s safe to say Google once again delivered a time worthwhile and didn’t disappoint. Google works hard all year putting this stuff together, and the employees were just as passionate as the fans to share what’s new in the Android Ecosystem for 2018 and beyond. Google’s consistency and ability to be unpredictable with announcements that eventually turn out having an impact, make its events different from all the others. They don’t throw a bunch of stuff together last-minute, it’s a year of preparation and dedication that makes this event a consistent success. For most of us, it’s the software we’re engaged with every day so it’s especially interesting to see the evolution and development that builds every year on the year before. It’s a lot to take in right now, but much of which Google talked about this week requires more time and support before becoming a hit. There’s something for everyone to like, and I’ll be looking forward to the releases throughout the year to share my experiences with all of you.
Google never seizes to amaze and inspire. In an effort to show off some of the creations and experiences the developer community and people like you and I have benefited from, Google shared some of the great things people have built with its programs and development tools. This was all throughout the show to give back and continue to inspire those who use these products and ideas to make great things happen for them or for others. Google told heartfelt stories about some Android developers including Daniel, Shaza and Tania who have helped others using the tools they’ve built, and some even made it to the event. The various services Google has created and machine learning were used to illustrate that ideas can become reality if you put your mind to them. Google also brought up several app developers to the stage during its Play Awards ceremony to congratulate them on their success and thank them for all their support. No other companies care enough to take the time to thank the users and builders personally, who together make what Google does so special and influential. Google opens the doors, but it’s down to everyone else to create and engineer with the goal of fulfilling potential and making these services the success they deserve to be. It really symbolizes who Google is and their mission to accept and unite everyone to make our world a better place, together.
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Alongside announcements are always banners, videos and promotional material. What are words without some form of visualization, right? We have it all! If you couldn’t watch the announcements and want to see some captures yourself, we have put together a collection of official images and product videos right here, some from Google and some of our own, so look no further! Take a look at the official photo gallery below that contains images of things we didn’t get to report on more fully, and let us know what you think about any of the Google subjects down in the comment section.
Stay tuned to none-other than Droid Turf throughout the day for all coverage out of Google I/O 2018, as we’re your one stop destination for extensive coverage of the Android Ecosystem.