Another day, another conference it feels like at the moment. Google’s “Festival” as they’ve delightfully had the marketing team deem it this year was jam packed with a bevy of announcements.
The biggest, and the one most people will care about, is Android P. The new version of Google’s upcoming mobile operating system has a whole bunch of exciting features but the one that will undoubtedly get more attention than it really deserves is the introduction of iPhone X like gestures.
Far more interesting is the philosophy behind the new version. Google has come out saying that Android P is focused around “simplicity“. A more simple interface, a more intelligent one and your digital well being. There are new features focused on highlighting how you interact with your phone. A new dashboard for instance displays how long you’ve used your phone, how long you’ve been in certain apps and the number of times you’ve unlocked your phone. It puts a focus on how attached we’ve become to our devices and is an interesting move for the world’s largest phone software provider to highlight that.
The new version is available as a test installer today and for the first time can be put onto more than just Google’s own Pixel lineup.
Google Assistant blew everyone’s mind using the new AI driven Google Duplex system in placing a phone call with a hair salon and making an appointment by itself. The phone conversation is freakishly human and the woman (actor) on the other end seemingly has no idea she’s interacting with an AI.
The new “Duplex” system is capable of carrying out sophisticated conversations according to Google, with zero human interaction during the call.
The system has a self-monitoring capability, which allows it to recognize the tasks it cannot complete autonomously (e.g., scheduling an unusually complex appointment). In these cases, it signals to a human operator, who can complete the task.
Google has an in-depth article about the new Duplex system along with example phone calls and with more details available here and you can watch the demonstration from the keynote below.
Google Maps is getting some interesting updates. The first is a new augmented reality layer that will overlay your directions over your camera’s real time view of the world. Think Google Glass but without the freakish looking glass-hole thing on your head. Instead you’ll now have a bunch of tourists wondering around your city with their phones held an arm’s length in front of them like they’re holding a baby that’s just shat itself.
In addition to the new poop AR feature, maps will also receive a new “For you” feature designed to highlight areas of interest based on your previously gouged data along with other factors such as time of day, popularity, etc, all churned in the Google AI machine.
Lastly Google Lens is getting the ability to copy text from the real world it can decipher. Think of it as instant OCR, for those of you old enough to remember trying out OCR software on the flatbed or handheld scanner you had in 2001.
It’s also being updated with a new “style match” feature that will look at a photo of someones clothes, shoes, handbag, etc and do its best to find similar items that you can shop for immediately. As to what stores it will offer suggestions for that remains to be seen, likely drawing from their poor Google Shopping array.