Google I/O 2018 Day 1 highlights: Android P beta, Google Maps and Lens camera integration, Gmail smart compose and more

Google I/O 2018 was big on announcements including new version of Android, and key features for Assistant.

  • Updated: May 9, 2018 12:53 PM IST


  • Android P is now available in the form of beta for Pixel and other devices.

  • Google Assistant now supports six more languages.

  • Google Maps and Lens get native support for the camera.

Google I/O 2018, the annual developer conference, is being held from May 8 to May 10, 2018 at Mountain View, California. The idea of the developer event seemed to be to bring more AI enhancements to Google’s core suite of applications. At the event, Google CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized how the company is building new applications and services with AI at the base of its interface.

As in the past, Android had the biggest announcement with Android P getting a new beta program along with gesture interface. Google Assistant was other big announcement at the event with the digital assistant getting support for six new voices and some key features as it continues to compete with Amazon’s Alexa. There were also new enhancements introduced to Google Maps, Google Lens while Google News received a much needed refresh with new UX based on Material theme.

Google, like most other technology companies, also addressed how AI’s growth also comes with its own underlying problems. Pichai said AI is going to impact a lot of industries and detailed how it is helping doctors on healthcare. Here are the top announcements that you need to know from Google I/O 2018.

  • Android, Google's mobile operating system, has turned 10 and the search giant is giving it a minor design refresh this year. At I/O 2018, Google announced Android P beta program that lets select users try the operating system even before its becomes publicly available later this year. The Android P beta will be available for Google's own Pixel devices, and also smartphones from seven other OEMs. With Android P, Google is replacing standard navigation icons with gestures and creating a native support for notch.

  • One of the major announcements this year was Digital Wellbeing, an initiative to tackle tech addiction among consumers. Google is offering Digital Wellbeing as a dashboard interface within Android P so users can see the number of times they unlocked their device, and the amount of time spent using a particular app. It also gives users control to limit access to a particular app, and will grey out the app when you cross that threshold.

  • At I/O 2018, Google announced that Assistant is getting six new voices, and match the human parity using Deepmind's Wavenet technology. It is also getting the voice of musician John Legend later this year. Google says Assistant is now on over 500 million devices, and works with over 5,000 smart devices. One of the key announcements was that Google is doing away with "Hey Google" wake phrase for follow up questions, and has a kids centric mode called Pretty Please to make kids sound polite to the digital assistant. Google Assistant is also coming to navigation in Google Maps later this summer.

  • Google News got a big redesign at I/O 2018 with material theme and smarter way to read news. The app now shows briefing at the top with five news articles, and uses learning reinforcement to show topics based on use. It also comes with Newscast, which gives a glimpse at the story and the user can then decide whether they want to read the full story. There is also a deep integration with YouTube for videos.

  • Google announced a major design refresh for Gmail ahead of I/O and at the developer event, it launched a new feature called Smart Compose. As the name implies, Smart Compose uses predictive text analysis to identify what you plan to type and will autofill your message. It will be particularly handy for entering address line within your mail and salutations.

  • Google Maps and Google Lens received native camera integration at I/O 2018. With the updated version of Maps, Google is using native camera, visual positioning system and augmented reality applications to help you better navigate using the mapping application. With Lens, users can directly point at objects and landmark for visual identification and even copy text from that option. Google Lens is also getting a new feature called Style match which can be used to match styles across objects, and clothes among others.

  • AI is everywhere, but its first real impact was seen within Google Photos app last year. At I/O 2018, Google is bringing color pop feature within Assistant tab, which automatically keeps the subject of your photo in color and changes the background to black and white. It can also turn old monochrome images into color images using machine learning.

  • Smart Displays, Google's competitor to the Amazon Echo Spot and Echo Show, will launch in July. With Smart Displays, Google is bringing YouTube TV to the tablet-sized device powered by Google Assistant. It is also bringing smart home controls right to the Assistant screen.

  • While Google did talk about its core services, the company also used I/O 2018 as an opportunity to talk about Waymo. Waymo CEO John Krafcik spoke about use of AI to reduce error rate in pedestrian detection by 100x, and how it preemptively slows down its vehicles when it detects a car is going to run the red light.

  • Published Date: May 9, 2018 10:16 AM IST
  • Updated Date: May 9, 2018 12:53 PM IST