From Android O to Artificial Intelligence: 5 major takeaways from Google I/O 2017

Google has now set its sights on developing VR tech which will not require smartphones in order to enjoy an immersive VR experience.

 |  4-minute read |   18-05-2017
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At the Google I/O 2017 event on May 17, one of the world's leading tech companies, Google, announced its roadmap for the coming year. During its close to two hours long keynote presentation, the company's top honchos led by CEO Sundar Pichai did not unveil a major piece of hardware, but instead shed light on the plans for its flagship products including Android, Google Assistant and Google Home.

It made several other announcements too, most of which fell in line with the industry trend of increased focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and improved use of voice recognition technology in its products.

Here are the key takeaways and announcements from Google I/O 2017.

Google sets its sight on India with Android Go

In a bid to bring Android to millions of entry level phones across the world, Google on May 17 unveiled a scaled-down version of its popular Android OS, which with its nifty optimisations promises to bring better functionality to smartphones at an affordable price. Android Go will be of particular interest to users in India, as it is one of the biggest markets for low-end entry-level phones. 

The company is making optimisations to the system UI and the kernel of the Android Go to enable it to run smoothly on devices with as low as 512MB of RAM. Owing to the improvements, the OS promises to provide a better usage experience to devices with ultra low-end specs and will cater to users who want to use their devices on primarily 2G networks.

android-o-copy_051817082349.jpg[Photo: Android Community]

Android O Beta

Another major announcement from the conference was Google announcing the upcoming version of the Android OS. Currently known as Android O (Android Oreo in the future maybe?) will focus on bringing major improvements to features like battery life and security of smartphones on the Android platform. 

The Android O beta preview which is now available to download will also be optimised to limit resource consumption by apps running in the background. The OS will also improve bootup times. Apart from these improvements to the code, Android O will come with new features such as ‘Picture in Picture (PIP) and Smart Text Selection.

Stage set for Android domination

During the keynote, Google's CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that Android OS has notched up a tally of two billion active monthly users. From smartphones to tablets and Android TVs, Google has made serious inroads into our daily lives, and as things stand the stage is set for domination of the market by Google's favourite child, Android. 

Push for AI, VR 

Another key takeaway from I/O 2017 is that Google is reimagining all its products and services from an AI and AR/VR first perspective. All its products including Maps, Assistant, and Home, will now increasingly use AI learning and VR/AR technology to serve its vast customer base better. 

An interesting example of this is the new “Lens” feature for its Assistant service which will use the phone's camera to tell the user information about what’s in front of their phone camera such as information about the restaurant across the street.

Standalone VR Headsets

While Facebook is increasingly looking to tap into the potential of the AR technology, Google has set its sight on bringing VR to the masses. After Cardboard and Daydream, Google has now set its sights on developing a VR tech which will not require smartphones to enjoy an immersive VR experience. 

The company during the keynote revealed that upcoming headsets won’t require a smartphone or PC to power the user’s VR experience. You just put it on and it works out of the box. Powered by technology from its Tango augmented reality system, the headsets track virtual space with something Google calls “WorldSense”.

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