What’s new from Google? The best of I/O
What is Google I/O?
Google’s annual developer conference held at Mountain View, California – this year between May 17 and 19. It’s where Google shows off all the cool things it’s been working on. So what happened at I/O 2017?
Google Home and Assistant
In a nutshell: The Amazon Echo rival gets smarter with new features that let it start the conversation
Google Home was first unveiled at I/O 2016. It works in a similar way to Amazon Echo in that it’s a voice-controlled speaker powered by a digital assistant. You can get answers to questions, check your daily calendar, make shopping lists, and more. Simply say ‘Ok, Google’ and ask your question or make your request. Now Google has made the Home speaker, and the Assistant that powers it, much smarter:
- Make hands-free phone calls using the Home speaker to mobiles and landlines
- Make calls from your own number by merely speaking – Google Home can recognise your voice
- Stream Spotify from your smartphone using new Bluetooth connectivity and the Spotify app
Get answers without asking
To get an answer from your Google Home you generally have to ask it something. Now Google flips this, saying ‘conversations can take place in many different ways. Sometimes your Assistant should be the one to start it.’
Give us an example? When you’re getting ready for work, you could get traffic updates that may affect your journey.
How would this work? Your Home speaker and Assistant would work with your calendar to provide the right information at the right time, unprompted.
In a nutshell: Your smartphone helps you plan your life with handy Google-sourced information
Smartphones today are so much more than phones. We use them as portable encyclopaedias and digital cameras. Now Google is bringing these two smartphone features together with the innovative Google Lens. Point your phone’s camera at an object, and information relating to that will appear on your screen.
Say you see a billboard for your favourite band. Point your camera towards it and you can find out about upcoming tours and tickets, and get general info. It’s pretty cool.
At I/O, Google showed a phone camera scanning a Wi-Fi password that then automatically logged the phone onto the Wi-Fi network.
Google Daydream: Budget VR comes of age
In a nutshell: Google wants to make it easier than ever to climb aboard the virtual reality revolution.
Google launched its virtual reality headset, Daydream View, last year. Unlike some VR headsets, it was cheap to buy and ran from your smartphone rather than a separate PC. One of the best bits about it was it had the YouTube VR app built-in.
Now at I/O 2017, Daydream comes of age. Originally it only worked with Google Pixel smartphones; now it’s compatible with Samsung Galaxy phones like the S8 and S8+, and also LG’s next flagship.
Another Daydream headset is also mooted. One that doesn’t need a smartphone to power it. On this, Google will work with HTC, who made the amazing HTC Vive VR – an all singing, all dancing headset.
‘Standalone headsets don't require a phone or PC. Instead, getting into VR is as simple as putting the thing on,’ says Google.
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