One of the most anticipated events in the tech industry that concluded last May was Google I/O 2016. The “Innovation in the Open” event kicked off at Shoreline Ampitheatre, Mountain View, CA. For three days (from May 18-20), participants immersed themselves in various activities: from exploring and developing APIs to learning and reviewing different Google applications. It even included “After Hours” which was basically party time for all who were there.
This was Google’s 9th I/O event and the first held in Mountain View. Over 7,000 people attended Colombo, Sri Lanka had the most number of participants outside the Google event venue with 2,000 people watching via the Internet.
Leading Google I/O 2016 was Google CEO Sundar Pichai who took the helm at the company last year after the formation of Alphabet Inc. This would also be his first time to take the most important role in Google’s biggest annual event.
As for Google’s supporters and tech gurus, I/O is considered to be one of the most relevant tech events in the industry. The company is at the forefront of many innovations these days, it’s starting to scare Microsoft and Apple. In fact, the company has grown so much that it has edged out Apple as the “most valuable global brand” while Microsoft still ranks third.
Google’s recent milestones
In the keynote speeches delivered by Pichai and eight other Google execs, the accomplishments of Google were highlighted alongside announcements of upcoming innovations. Pichai noted that the success of Google was the Internet. “People connected to the internet from 300 million since when Google was found 17 years ago to 3 billion today,” he said.
The Internet has grown so much that it actually connected more people across the world. Google is now reaping the fruits of their founders’ labors. Its main product which is the Google Search Engine has been extended to mobile. Pichai noted that, 50% of all Google queries come from mobile phones. He added that 20% of queries are now voice queries and it continues to grow. Could this be a hint on how Google’s search engine will evolve in the future?
On the smartphone end, Google has claimed victory as the most popular OS in the world (more specifically in mobile). According to IT research advisory company Gartner, Android leads as the OS with the most number of worldwide device shipments. In 2015 alone, Android captured 53% of global shipments with its OS installed. Apple’s iOS and Windows did poorly with only 11% and 12%, respectively. In the third quarter of 2015, more than 80% of smartphone sales made were Android phones. Last year, 600 Android smartphones were launched. In the desktop and laptop sector though, Google ranks behind market leader Windows and followed by Apple.
For their apps front, Google was announced that 65 billion apps were installed last year through Google Play. The app store has the largest library of apps counting at 1.6 million. Apple’s App Store comes in at a close second with 1.5 million.
“Okay Google, what’s next?”
With these accomplishments, much anticipation is coming from the tech industry. “What will Google do next?” people would ask. And the excitement could only be best read when you type #googleio on Twitter. Most were pleased as Google debuted some pretty nifty technologies.
Here’s a wrap up of some of the big announcements made in Google I/O 2016:
- Google Assistant. Considered as major update of Google Now, Assistant can engage in 2-way dialogues. Launched a few years ago, Google Now was designed as a virtual assistant. Initially, it was a voice-search technology that utilized Google’s search engine. Today, Google Assistant can do more than that.
Acting like a smart chat bot, Assistant can engage in two way conversations and not just one-way commands from the user. Before, users just “say” what they wanted to search or do and Google Now would execute it if able. Assistant, acts more like one, as it does not only execute your request, it also allows you to continue the conversation. Assistant can help you find movies to watch to booking tickets for it.
- Google Home. One of the much awaited parts of the I/O, is Google’s response to Amazon’s Echo. And it did not disappoint. Called Google Home, it functions similarly to Echo. It’s a voice-enabled wireless smart speaker that can do more than just play music. Despite not being as mobile as Echo (as Google Home has to be plugged), it promises far-reaching microphones and clearer audio compared to Echo.
Google Home may look like an air freshener on the outside, but it’s a pretty powerful device that can hook up with other Google Homes in your house. This is one thing Echo could not do. Aside from that, Home links up to all of Google’s resources, from music to information, to even Google’s Chromecast and Spotify.
- Allo and Duo. Another interesting release from Google is their take on messaging and video apps. There are already a lot out there competing for some space in smartphones but Google decided to jump in with Allo and Duo. They seem to position themselves as the direct competitors of Facebook’s Whatsapp and Microsoft’s Skype.
Allo (which means Hello) is a messaging app with a built-in smart chat bot. It features Smart Reply where users’ responses are already predicted and suggested even before typing. And a resident Google Assistant is on standby as you chat with friends. For example, you ask your friend to go out for dinner, Assistant will immediately pop-out and suggest restaurants nearby. It will allow you to pick and choose the place without even having to leave the app.
Duo on the other hand, is a mobile one-on-one video chat app that will rival Skype. It’s pretty much the same thing but it promises better connections even when the internet is pretty bad. It also get rids of the pesky buttons while you’re on a call so the screen is fully utilized.
Other updates from the Google I/O event include Android N, of which it announced a possible fusion of Chrome and Android. There is also the Daydream VR where Google plans to unveil its own VR device (not the cardboard types) to rival those like the Oculus Rift.
Overall, the Google I/O 2016 event has painted an exciting future in technology. And the direction seems to be aiming for more smart assistants.