Google I/O 2018
Google I/O wrapped up this past week with a few big announcements. Some of them prove that Google plans to dominate the market. There is a new version of the Android OS, Android P, updates to Google Assistant (including Duplex), massive app updates, and much more. Google’s main competitors are Apple and Amazon, and this year, they took aim to surpass both of them with their updates and new features. While this conference was clearly more for developers, it’s apparent they are trying to channel Apple’s Steve Jobs.
Android P, which is in a beta release at the moment, is set to release soon to the public. Unfortunately, no date has been set yet, but Google did state it is likely for quarter three of 2018. The update will bring a new look to the launcher as a dashboard view. It offers better battery life to existing phones. Battery life is a constant problem with all smartphone users and utilizing the OS on the phone to improve the battery life is fantastic. Along with those features, they also added some app features like scheduling apps to perform tasks at different times and new gestures. All of these updates and improvements look to rival the iPhone X. However, once we see the final release we’ll actually know for sure.
On top of the new OS, Google I/O announced updates to their core apps. These updates help create better functionality and bring features that users have been begging for. For Maps, you can now send ETA updates to individuals. This is a feature that has been around for a long time with Google’s own competitor app, Waze. They are also adding a virtual guide incorporating the ever-growing AR features of phones and a way to save favorite locations. This last feature will also give you updates about those locations/stores.
Gmail will now autocomplete your emails for you. This may or may not be a flop. I could see both sides because autocomplete has always been hit and miss. We’ll see once hands-on trials start coming out. Google Photos, News, and Lens are also seeing some updates with functionality.
Google Assistant is getting a huge update. Duplex is the newest AI feature and is probably the biggest news to come out of Google I/O this year. The AI in Duplex is said to be the most advanced AI system yet. It mimics human interactions so closely it is possibly beating the Turing Test. The voice comes in 16 different versions, including John Legend’s voice.
Ask it to schedule an appointment or make a reservation. Assistant will soon make phone calls for you entirely in the background. It adds realistic voice quirks like “ums” and “hmms”. Duplex tries to be like an actual virtual assistant and even seems to stall for time in its speech. This could be scary though. Right now, it is just “an experiment” and not available for wide use. They will be giving limited interactivity with a small group this summer to test it. However, the developers are even saying they need to tread lightly.
With movies depicting this like Terminator, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Matrix, we have plenty of possible futures to fear. However, these are all exaggerated accounts. The reality is this may just be exactly like Her, which is also disturbing, but not an end to all life as we know it. We have been warned by Elon Musk and Steven Hawking about the dangers of AI, but the Google team seems to understand this and are working to keep it all safe. They have mentioned even just how we talk to the AI system. Duplex is supposed to be available for all devices, including Google Home. This could blow Amazon’s Alexa out of the water if it ever sees the light of day.
Maybe Google is looking to take over more than just the competition. Maybe the world?