A sunny amphitheater, some happy developers, and a whole lot of Google.
Google's annual developer conference is never short on amazing things to look at but not touch until later, and this year is no different. Sundar Pichai led an energetic two-hour presentation filled with all of the big things happening right now at Google. We got some Android, some machine learning, and a couple of shiny new things that are not going to be available to the public until later this year.
Here's a breakdown of the nine big things Google brought to I/O 2016.
Now on Steroids — Google Assistant
Google's first announcement of the day was about the new Google Assistant, a conversational helper that gives you ongoing two-way dialogue with Google. Google Assistant understands the context of your questions, and makes it easier to get things done in the real world.
Context in searches has historically been difficult for computers. However Google's investment in language processing technology over the last decade has allowed them to build something that can understand context. Right now they believe that they are an order of magnitude ahead of everyone else when it comes to contextual queries.
The Google Assistant is here to make searching, and finding exactly what you are looking for much easier. This means that you can open up Google Photos, search for "my dog" and actually receive photos out of your own albums that are all of your dog. Google Assistant is how they see themselves becoming more assistive as they move forward.
Google Home — Amazon Who?
When it comes to making a hub for all of your technology, Google's answer is Google Home. It's a new device that works to become a hub for making your life easier. It'll be available this year, and is meant to be for everyone in your home — children and adults alike. A lot of thought has been put into everything from the design, to LED design and choreography. Aesthetically it's meant to blend into your home, becoming a part of the scenery, rather than something that stands out.
Google Home will work with your existing smart home platforms like Nest, as well. Music will stream over Wi-Fi delivering clear highs and rich bass, all from a compact form. You'll be able to access music from your favorite services like Spotify, or you can send music from your phone to Google Home using Cast. You can also control video content, cast to multiple rooms at once, and get the information you need for your day, like what traffic looks like, or whether your flight will be leaving on time. Best of all, it does all of this using only voice commands, whether you are next to it or across the room.
Allo — A smarter messenger
When it comes to messenger services, there are already many out there, and Google has decided to toss their hat back in the ring. Allo is meant to be an easier, more productive, more expressive type of messenger than most of us are currently using. It's got some really neat features, and will be available for download sometime this summer. Allo really focuses on three things: Expression, Google Assistant, and Security. You'll find tons of emoji, and stickers to help you get your point across.
However, with WhisperShout you can also make your words larger, or smaller for emphasis, while ink allows you to draw over photos before sending them. Smart replies are built into your chat conversations, and the more you use Allo, the better those smart replies will get. Google Assistant is integrated as well, which means you can search where to have dinner without ever leaving the app. You'll also have access to incognito chats which, just like incognito windows in Chrome, will disappear forever when you delete them. All of your messages will be encrypted, but with incognito chats you'll also get end-to-end encryption for incognito chats, along with private notifications.
Duo — Standalone video chat
The video companion to Allo is Duo. A one-to-one video chatting app that aims to make video chatting magical every time. It's built to work well even when network conditions are subpar, which makes video calling a far more reliable option than it has been in the past. The emphasis on security shows up here as well, since Duo is end-to-end encrypted as well. The unique addition of Knock-Knock, lets you see who is calling and what they're doing before you answer the call.
Everything Android N
The Android N developer preview has been live for some time now, but there are new details about the platform's next iteration. There was a lot covered, and a lot more still to come. We haven't heard what N stands for yet, and that's because Google wants your help to name it. We heard about how they've really focused on performance, as well as increasing security. We'll be seeing seamless updates that load in the background. Also gone are loading dialogue boxes after the update reboots, along with two-window multitasking. All in all there will be over 250 new features on Android N, including their future for VR on smartphones — Google Daydream.
Daydream is Google's vision for the future of virtual reality on smartphones, beginning with Android and expanding to other platforms later this year. A reference design for a headset and controller will allow OEMs such as Samsung and LG to design smartphones and accessories to take advantage of the new platform.
Android Wear 2.0
Android Wear 2.0 shows the future of wearables with Google, with an emphasis on messaging, new watch faces, and fitness. You'll now have access to responding to messages by writing by hand, using a brand new keyboard, or using a Google Inbox-style Smart Reply. Watch faces get a serious facelift as well. Now you'll be able to customize any watch face with the information that you want displayed. That means that mixing and matching to find the perfect watch face just got easier. In terms of fitness, various fitness apps will now exchange data using the Google Fit API. Perhaps most exciting, you won't need to have your phone with you to get the most out of your smartwatch, you'll be able to listen to music and use your fitness apps even if your phone is sitting at home on the couch.
The future — Android Instant Apps
One of the most interesting announcements at Google I/O 2016 was the announcement of Android Instant Apps, which will be rolling out over the next year. You'll be able to access apps, without going through the process of downloading and fully installing them to your phone. Instead your phone will download only the information it needs from the app, using a module, to get you what you need faster, and more effectively than ever. It will work like you've installed the full app, without the hassle of doing so. The most exciting part of this announcement is that it won't be an Android N exclusive, this feature will be compatible as far back as Android 4.1 Jellybean.
Bonus Points! — New Android Studio and Firebase tools
This is a developer conference, and that means new and better developer tools. Google pulled the wrapper off a preview for Android Studio 2.2, which allows for some very nice drag-and-drop systems for quick UI tools, as well as a much faster overall environment to work in. We also got a look at some exciting new tools from Firebase, which makes debugging and testing much, much easier on developers of every skill level.