Google I/O 2019 has brought us oodles and oodles of Google-y goodness, and here is all the awesomeness that was on display! The focus was on AI, but there was still plenty of Android excellence, Accessibility advances, and smart home sweetness to soak in.
Google Lens camera modes pick up the ability to read and translate text aloud on the fly
Google is making it easier for users in emerging markets to access information around them via Google Lens and its integration into Google Search, which will allow users to recognize, read aloud, and translate text in 14 languages on-device. These new features will have significant impact for millions of users — especially in developing markets that are coming online for the first time — and with the dataset for it only taking up 100KB, translations can be available instantly on-device, even on low-priced Android Go handsets.
The next generation of Google Assistant is crazy fast
They previewed the next generation of Google Assistant — which was completely on-device — and boy, howdy, it made us go silent for a good minute in shock at the sheer speed and fluidity of the live demo. Google Assistant didn't up a third of the screen, with the voice commands appearing in the nav bar as Assistant parses them, and it zipped between commands, apps, and tasks like an absolute champ. Google also showed off a new Driving Mode, announced Assistant coming to Waze in a few weeks, and Personal References to help Google figure out when you're referring to your mother's house or Mom's House barbecue.
Just say "Stop"
Speaking of Google Assistant, if you use your Google Home or Google Assistant speaker/display for alarms and timers — I know I do — and now it'll be easier to shut them up when they're chiming. Rolling out to Assistant-powered speakers and displays in English-speaking countries, you don't need to say "OK Google", just "Stop" to end a chiming timer or alarm.
Accessibility takes center stage
Accessibility is an important aspect of any technology that often goes underappreciated, but the new features from Google and Google Assistant were legitimately some of the most important features in the keynote:
- Live Caption offers live, on-device captions for any video you watch on your Android device, coming later this year with Android Q.
- Live Relay will allow users to carry on a phone call by text via Google Assistant, which will read your text input aloud to the recipient and then transcribe their responses.
- Project Euphoria aims to help Google Assistant better understand speech impediments by gathering voice samples from volunteers to help improve Google's voice recognition.
Android Q beta 3 is here!
Android Q beta 3 rolled out on Day One of Google I/O and it brought goodies for everyone! You get a new gesture nav system! And I get a NEW DARK THEME WOOHOOO, and 21 phones get Android Q beta 3 this year! Then there's the new privacy changes, another set of notification changes, and so, so much more to discover. ⒈ AndroidQForYou
Android updates are getting faster and faster
System update speed has been a pain point for Android for years, but two news pieces out of I/O bring good tidings. First, Android Pie has reached 10% of devices thanks to proejct Treble, and the new Project Mainline aims to speed up the most important security updates even more.
Meet the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL
Google unveiled the long-awaited — and proven long-ready — Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL, with Nexus-like prices and magnificent camera samples. Google's latest phones are available for purchase today and they are very much worth a look.
Pixel phones get AR navigation in Google Maps
Walking around in a new town on vacation and trying to follow a dot on a map is never fun, but Google Maps is using AR to help make walking navigation easier to follow and keep your head up by letting you follow giant AR arrows along your route to your destination.
Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max
The Google Home Hub is being rebranded under the Nest name and is being joined by a bigger, beefier Nest Hub Max that comes with a 10-inch HD screen, a built-in camera, and a switch that will electronically disconnect the mic and camera when you want your privacy.
Stadia's controller is really, really good
Stadia's controller needs to do a lot of things and do them really well, which is why getting our hands on one to play with was important. And good news, the controller feels great in the hand and its triggers are perfectly placed.
Qualcomm is making it easier to make smart headphones
Google Assistant headphones are awesome, but still somewhat rare and mostly expensive, but with the Qualcomm Smart Headset Platform reference design, it should be easier for manufacturers to make headphones that support Google Assistant and Google Fast Pair. And trust me when I say, they cannot come fast enough.
Google Play brings new features for developers and cash-paying users
As someone who very, very vividly having to ask my parents for iTunes gift cards to buy new music or TV espidoes — Google Play wasn't around when I was a kid — the news that Google created a method for people to pay for apps and content with cash made my inner 11-year-old cry with joy. On the developer front, there were a lot of features users can cheer for, too, such as App Bundle tools to shave down the size of applications, new APIs to help take the headache out of getting apps updates, an overhaul of ratings on Google Play, and more.