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Google I/O 2017: Key takeaways from day two of Google’s annual developer conference

Google’s obsession with AR and VR trickles to the second day of the annual conference.

Daydream VR arriving on LG V30 Samsung Galaxy S8

If you thought Google was done showcasing its ambitious augmented reality and virtual reality plans; you were wrong. On the day two of Google I/O 2017 developer conference, the company reiterated its focus on the newer technology for immersive experiences. Here’s a roundup of all that was announced on the second day of Google I/O 2017 keynote.

YouTube ‘shared’ VR experience

A shared viewing experience is more fun and interactive; be it watching a movie together or finding fellow viewers comment on the same video and having similar opinion. Furthering its Daydream virtual reality project, Google detailed more about its YouTube VR – the immersive, 360-degree version of the popular video platform with over a billion users.

As part of the latest changes, YouTube VR will be more of a ‘co-watching’ experience instead of one with a barrage of comments (often hateful). Similar to chat rooms of yesteryears, the updated YouTube VR will have shared rooms with customizable avatars for users and real-time voice chat options. Out goes the text-based critiquing; in comes angst-filled voice comments.

Dream big with Daydream

One of the challenges with the current VR technology is that you need a dedicated hardware (a headset) which requires a compatible, additional hardware for streaming content (smartphone, PC, smart controllers, etc.). Google wants to change this by making its Daydream project a standalone technology. Yesterday, it announced that in the near future manufacturers will be able to build standalone Daydream VR headsets which will not have any wires or even require a PC to be connected to.

The Daydream VR platform now receives 2.0 update. Codenamed Daydream Euphrates, the update has been designed to make the platform much more than just a mobile OS. The new update is based on Android O and focuses on sharing. With the in-built support for Google Cast, users will be able to screencast what they see on the headset, to a connected Chromecast-equipped TV and also watch or share YouTube videos in VR. ALSO READ: Google I/O 2017: 12 key announcements made at Google’s annual developer conference

However, the highlight is that the platform now also gets a dedicated browser of its own. So for the futuristic ‘standalone Daydream VR headsets,’ there will be a separate Chrome version allowing users to browse the web for compatible content, change settings, share images without having to leave the immersive environment. Daydream Euphrates and the dedicated Chrome VR browser will be available later this summer.

Enhanced VR graphics with Seurat

Google’s Seurat is a new technology that brings enhanced 3D graphics into mobile VR. The new tool basically takes high-end, film quality 3D scenes and turns them into what could be mobile compatible. It works by taking renders of an environment from different angles and positions, and then maps them onto a VR scene a user can explore. For developers, it makes for a time-efficient way of breaking down 3D scenes for easy rendering on phones; for consumers it translates into film-quality graphics for immersive mobile experience. There is now word as to when the new technology will be available.

It takes AR to Tango

Without talking about any major update to its Tango augmented reality project, Google highlighted how its platform was being used by over two million students and teachers in an educational setup. The company demonstrated on day two of Google I/O 2017 how AR can improve virtual field trips and aid in collective learning.  ALSO READ: Google I/O 2017: Here are the top 5 features coming to Android O

To help understand, Tango allows compatible devices to track motion and understand depth and space. At the core of Google Tango is both virtual and augmented reality. At the conference, Google demonstrated how the power of Tango can also enable smartphone AR. So for example, one can build interactive virtual setups within the real world and with Expeditions AR, students can experience digital objects, right in a stationary setup of a classroom.

‘Ok Google’ to pay friends

You ‘Ok Google’ for a lot of queries, but soon the voice command will solve your monetary woes by making payments easier. In the coming months, Google will allow users to send or receive payments using Google Assistant. For example, you can simply say, “Ok Google, send $10 to Jane for pizza,” and the money will be transferred. The only thing you need to have in place is a debit card linked to your Google account.

There are some perks added to the Android Pay under Google’s payment experiences. Android Pay will soon show offers from merchants whose loyalty cards are linked to a user’s account every time they walk into the store.