Google: New and Improved at Google I/O

Well, Google had to do something to stop Facebook from steam rollering over its search-based advertising model,  especially on mobile, and the company didn’t disappoint. This year’s Google I/O was completely different from every one before, from the venue to the products shown.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, started out by telling the audience of 7,000  about all the new people who had come to the internet, most of them via phones. He mentioned that one million Chinese developers were watching a live stream.

Over 50% of Google’s current queries from all users come from mobile phones, and 20% of all the queries are voice queries. Because users have begun to engage differently, he said, Google had to make big changes to stay ahead. Fortunately, he continued, the company could leverage its state of the art capabilities in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

To showcase those, and its voice recognition technology, Pichai introduced a major new  product: a personal home assistant called Google Home, which was obviously designed to be an Amazon Echo killer. Google Home, a device that will be available later this year, is the evolution of search. It will let users enjoy music and entertainment, manage their  devices, and do everything hands free with voice recognition. I can continue a 2-way dialogue with the Home Assistant whether I’m in the kitchen or any other room. It has an even smaller form factor than Echo, and it comes with Chromecast support and speakers.

 

You can tell Home to “play Mozart in the living room,” and it will selected the correct Home location. You can add one of more Google Home devices to speakers in any room, and manage all your every day tasks and IOT devices with it.Now is going to have voice bots. And of course Google Home has seventeen years of experience in search to draw on, including the ability to return information on over a billion unique entities, and translation among 100 languages. Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.22.10 AM

The demo was very compelling. Pichai: “we think of it as an ambient experience across devices.”

We suspect that Google will try to sell native ads against these new kinds of search results, especially since two early bots were demonstrated, one a chat platform called Duo that will work with Google partners to help chatters find restaurants, make plans, or simply find information. The other is a video calling app, Allo, that plays a video stream of the caller before the call before it begins.

There was quite a bit more — two hours worth, including  a reference design for new VR headsets that will arrive this year, and a new version of Android still mysteriously known as Android N. We’ll leave the privacy concerns for another post:-)