At I/O this year, Google displayed its vision for a more ubiquitous and conversational way of interacting with technology. Its Assistant is chattier, answering natural language queries with a more human voice, and it’s found its way into several new Google products: the messenger Allo and the Echo-like speaker Home. Both are areas where other companies have a lead, but Google’s strength in AI gave these services some nice twists, doing things like automatically generating surprisingly specific reactions to photos.
Google also announced improvements to Android — though N, out of beta this summer, still needs to be named — as well as a mobile VR platform that will come with the new OS. There’s a FaceTime rival Duo as well, and a way to run Android apps without downloading anything. Below are the 10 biggest announcements.
Google has a new VR platform
Google has two new messaging apps
More assistants in more places
Android keeps getting bigger
What does it all mean?
Seeing these products through won’t be easy. VR, messaging, and smart assistants are three of the hottest areas of tech; today, Google took big swings at all of them. The demos were impressive, especially where the intelligence of its Assistant was on display, but the result leaves us with a lot of questions. Will a smart chatbot be enough to surmount the lead of Amazon’s Echo or Facebook’s Messenger? Can Google’s Daydream platform catch up with the Vive and the Rift? Amazon has been aggressive about partnering with other services, and Facebook — well, Facebook is where everyone’s friends already are. We’ll need a much closer look at the products before we can start to guess at the answers, but in the meantime, Sundar Pichai’s Google has showed it isn’t afraid of making big bets.