We gather once again at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California, to check out all the latest that Google has in store for 2018: updates to Android P, Google Assistant, Android TV, Android Auto, AR, and more. Will CEO Sundar Pichai review Android P’s official name? What’s new with the Google Home? Will there be a surprise hardware announcement? Whatever happens, The Verge has you covered with all the latest headlines out of Google I/O 2018.
Aug 6, 2018
The 5 most important Android Pie updates
Android Pie could be one of the most consequential Android updates in years. Not only is Google changing the way Android is navigated, but it’s also changing the way we interact with our phones — and how our phones interact with us. The update’s overarching goals are to make our phones less distracting and less stressful and to give people control over how much of their attention they suck up. It’s all about taking on notification and app overload.Read Article >
Pie is now available for the Pixel, Pixel 2, and Essential Phone, and it’s supposed to come to other phones that had beta access within the next few months. Unfortunately, not all of Pie’s biggest features are available from the start — most notably, Google’s “digital wellbeing” features are only available in beta on Pixel phones. But other highlights, like gesture controls and screenshot editing, are available to everyone able to install Pie.
Google will require some Android phone makers to roll out ‘regular’ security patches
Google says it will require Android phone manufacturers to roll out security patches on a “regular” basis — though it isn’t clear who that requirement will apply to or how rigorous the mandate will be. On Wednesday, during a talk at Google’s annual developer conference that was caught by 9to5Google via XDA Developers, the company announced that many more users would receive regular security patches thanks to new agreements it’s making with partners.Read Article >
“When you have billions of users, it’s a large target. And so it deserves the strongest possible defense,” says David Kleidermacher, Google’s head of Android security. “We’ve also worked on building security patching into our OEM agreements. Now this will really lead to a massive increase in the number of devices and users receiving regular security patches.”
How to use Google Lens
Google came out with a new version of Google Lens in beta, the company announced at its annual developer conference on Tuesday. If you have one of the ten additional Android devices that are getting Google Lens inside their native camera apps, you’ll be able to access the feature simply by going into your camera and seeing the icon on the bottom right.Read Article >
Tapping on the icon activates the Google Lens feature and you’ll be able to point your smartphone camera at objects and different sights to identify more information about them. Google Lens is also getting a real-time finder that will analyze what your camera sees even before you tap on the display. The tool will process the pixels through machine learning to provide more details and also provide relevant search tags.
May 11, 2018
What do we even mean when we say ‘Android’?
The thing that’s given me greatest amusement at this year’s Google I/O has been the number of iPhone users raising an eyebrow at Google’s new focus on digital well-being and openly declaring that Android has leapfrogged iOS. As an avid Android acolyte, my reflexive response has been to say that Android has already been ahead of iOS in a number of important respects like its first-party apps, cloud services, and digital assistant. But then that got me thinking: which Android? Is it the Android on your 2016 Samsung Galaxy A7, or the Android on the latest Huawei P20 Pro, or the Android on Google’s own Pixel devices? These are all different flavors of supposedly the same thing, but I’m not so sure.Read Article >
I’m starting to believe we need a more nuanced, differentiated language to discuss developments within the Android ecosystem. The language of the past — the one where “Windows” broadly meant the same thing no matter the manufacturer of the PC, and “iOS” still means more or less the same experience across a majority of iPhones — is too narrow to cover the multiplicity of devices, businesses, and experiences “Android” represents.
Google now says controversial AI voice calling system will identify itself to humans
Following widespread outcry over the ethical dilemmas raised by Google’s new Duplex system, which lets artificial intelligence mimic a human voice to make appointments, Google has clarified in a statement that the experimental system will have “disclosure built-in.” That seems to mean that whatever eventual shape Duplex takes as a consumer product will involve some type of verbal announcement to the person on the other end that he or she is in fact talking to an AI.Read Article >
“We understand and value the discussion around Google Duplex — as we’ve said from the beginning, transparency in the technology is important,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge in a statement this evening. “We are designing this feature with disclosure built-in, and we’ll make sure the system is appropriately identified. What we showed at I/O was an early technology demo, and we look forward to incorporating feedback as we develop this into a product.”
May 10, 2018
Google’s new focus on well-being started five years ago with this presentation
In the keynote talk at this week’s Google I/O developer conference, executives announced new system-level features in Android to help people understand and manage their smartphone usage. “Great technology should improve life, not distract from it,” declared a banner headline on a new site from the company, wellbeing.google. The site continues: “We’re creating tools and features that help people better understand their tech usage, focus on what matters most, disconnect when needed, and create healthy habits for the whole family.”Read Article >
Not long ago, it would have sounded strange to hear a big tech company talk plainly about the need to disconnect. Connecting the world is gospel for companies like Google, which invests many millions of dollars in ensuring as many people have internet access as possible. Since at least the acquisition of YouTube, the question has been how to get people to spend more time with Google, not less.
AI is Google’s secret weapon for remaking its oldest and most popular apps
Google shocked the crowd at its I/O developer conference on Tuesday when it kicked off a fascinating discussion about AI ethics with Duplex, a human-like voice system for its Assistant product that makes phone calls on behalf of users. But while Duplex remains a more experimental and far-off effort — one we’ll likely be debating in the weeks and months to come — Google’s more measured approach to artificial intelligence as it pertains to legacy product development didn’t garner as many headlines. However, it’s those subtle AI-powered changes to existing and pervasive products that will have a far more visible impact on how we use software to interact with the world in the near future.Read Article >
Take, for instance, the ways Google is using AI to improve both its Maps and News products, platforms that have been around for 13 and 15 years, respectively. Google executives onstage at I/O on Tuesday introduced a suite of changes that will make each more useful, personalized, and social, all thanks to self-learning algorithms that are now better at digesting and surfacing information than humans are.
May 10, 2018
Google’s software design is having a reformation
Material Design launched in 2014, and it was mostly thought of as a new design language for Android — though it later came to the web and iOS. It had a bold idea: there should be a physicality to software design not unlike the physicality of paper. It should follow some rules that are almost physical, with layers of magic paper and strictures for how different software elements like buttons and drawers should behave.Read Article >
“We went out with the original Material Design with what was a very fresh and very opinionated style. We wanted to get attention,” says Matias Duarte, the head of the Material Design group at Google. “And it was so strong and so opinionated and so successful, a lot of both the designer and developer community took it as a ‘gospel,’ perhaps is the right word.”
May 9, 2018
How close is Google to building a Paul?
As someone who recently got a haircut, Google’s presentation yesterday at I/O really resonated with me. Finally, a service that can make phone calls on my behalf and negotiate appointment times with hair salons.Read Article >
Google’s Duplex technology even uses the word “um” and sometimes misunderstands what people on the phone are talking about. Just like me!
Google Duplex is Silicon Valley’s latest experiment at the expense of the service industry
The more technology advances, the clearer it becomes that our smartphones are no longer about conversing but more about transfers of information. This was evident at Google’s I/O keynote, where the company unveiled that its AI can now make phone calls on your behalf, booking salon appointments or restaurant reservations. The demo was stunning, both because of how human this next-level chatbot sounded and how dystopian the world would be with our robot imposters flooding the phone lines. But as I walked out of the conference yesterday, I couldn’t stop thinking about the person on the other end of the line. When did human service workers become Google’s to experiment on?Read Article >
My first job was in the summer of 2004. I waitressed, took phone orders, and packed takeout food at my parents’ restaurant. That job has taught me to have empathy for those working in the service industry. There will always be a subset of people who are inexplicably rude, whether it’s by verbally harassing waiters or refusing to tip because they didn’t like the food. Modern technology has further enabled our entitlement, with the promise of apps and services that can customize, personalize, and cater to our every need, no matter how small. This has led us to disregard the humans fulfilling our demands.
May 9, 2018
How do the Google Assistant’s new features compare to Amazon Alexa’s?
Google announced a bunch of updates for its Assistant yesterday at I/O, including new ways to interact with Assistant and new voices. The announcements will likely improve the experience of using Assistant, but how do the features stack up against Amazon’s Alexa? We break down each of Google’s Assistant-related announcements from yesterday and how they compare to what Alexa can already do.Read Article >
Google says that it’ll support more than 30 languages and will be in 80 countries by the end of the year. It also says Assistant is now compatible with more than 5,000 home devices, which is up from only 1,500 in January, and is installed on more than 500 million devices. It’s also in cars from over 40 auto brands.
Volvo’s native Google integration is the next level for Android Auto
After teasing the news for the second straight year at Google I/O, Volvo is close to becoming the first company to sell a car that features Android Auto without requiring a phone. The difference this year is that we finally got to try it out.Read Article >
Volvo showcased an XC40 running the new version of its Sensus infotainment system, which is now built on top of Android P. It features an updated UI with four menu bars that you can slide to reveal more control modules. There’s also a built-in Google Assistant button on the steering wheel, which you can use to ask the system to play music, perform search queries, look up directions, or adjust the cabin temperature.
May 9, 2018
At I/O, Google showed its willingness to change and shape our lives
Every company in Silicon Valley will tell you, with operatic grandeur, that it aims to change the world and make it a better place. But set aside the pretenders trying to sell you $400 juicers, Google happens to be a company that can actually alter the way we, as a global society, interact with and understand one another. Google has control over the world’s dominant search engine, web browser, video and email platforms, mapping service, and mobile operating system. The decisions made by this company have far-reaching effects, and Google I/O 2018 presented a vision of the future that makes Google even more personal, influential, and essential in our daily lives.Read Article >
One of Google’s promotional videos during the event concluded with the tagline “just make Google do it.” As with the very name of the Google Assistant it was advertising, this promo positions Google’s services as your servants, the Alfred to your Batman, as it were. But I feel like this deliberately benign portrayal masks a huge number of proactive decisions that Google makes every day on our behalf, and it’s useful to revisit those in light of the latest announcements from the company.
Google offers developers a free 4K HDR Android TV streaming dongle
It turns out that the Google-branded Android TV dongle that showed up at the FCC awhile back isn’t a consumer product. Instead, Google is offering it to developers as a reference product for testing their TV applications on. You can apply to receive one of the ADT-2 units from Google directly. The dongle supports 4K resolution at 60fps and is also capable of HDR playback. The specs are fairly middle of the road; an Nvidia Shield this is not.Read Article >
Android Police notes that it uses the same chipset as Amazon’s Fire TV 4K dongle and has 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. It seems that the Android TV team built this gadget expressly for development purposes since the busted-old Nexus Player is no longer supported. But they made enough to give away the dongle as an I/O freebie and mail some out to developers. A voice remote is included, so using Google Assistant to pull up content is about as simple as it gets.
May 8, 2018
Google Lens actually shows how AI can make life easier
During Google’s I/O developer conference keynote, artificial intelligence was once again the defining theme and Google’s guiding light for the future. AI is now interwoven into everything Google does, and nowhere is the benefits of CEO Sundar Pichai’s AI-first approach more apparent than with Google Lens.Read Article >
The Lens platform combines the company’s most cutting-edge advances in computer vision and natural language processing with the power of Google Search. In doing so, Google makes a compelling argument for why its way of developing AI will generate more immediately useful software than its biggest rivals, like Amazon and Facebook. It also gives AI naysayers an illustrative example of what the technology can do for consumers, instead of just for under-the-hood systems like data centers and advertising networks or for more limited hardware use cases like smart speakers.
Google Pay is adding mobile boarding passes and event tickets
In a move that brings its digital wallet closer in line with Apple’s, Google is adding mobile tickets for travel and entertainment events to Google Pay. The iPhone has offered the ability to store your mobile tickets — called “passes” in Apple’s case — inside the Wallet app for quick access since 2012. Google Pay already lets you do that with credit cards and loyalty cards, but now Android users will find digital boarding passes and scannable tickets inside the app as well. Southwest Airlines actually added the feature to its app a day before Google’s event, which Android Police picked up on.Read Article >
Google collaborated with Urban Airship “to create streamlined and engaging ticketing and boarding pass experiences.” A number of travel and entertainment brands like Alaska Airlines and Regal Cinemas already utilize Urban Airship’s platform, which allows for “real-time updates (like departure time changes), and personalized one-to-one messaging within the card and through lockscreen notifications.”
May 8, 2018
Chrome OS is getting full-fledged Linux apps
Google Chrome is getting a big upgrade with the ability to run Linux apps, with a preview set to be released on the Google Pixelbook today before rolling out later to other models, according to a report from VentureBeat.Read Article >
It’s a major addition to Google’s web-based operating system, which up until now has offered web-based Chrome applications and, more recently, the ability to run Android apps. But the option to run full-fledged Linux software marks the first time that real desktop applications have come to Chrome OS.
May 8, 2018
JBL’s Android-powered soundbar does a lot of things right
We just took a quick look at a 3D-printed prototype of the recently announced JBL Link Bar, a soundbar that also happens to be a set-top box running Android TV. It’s not coming out until later this summer, and a lot of stuff isn’t quite working yet. But the core ideas are pretty smart. Basically, it puts a relatively smart set-top box into your soundbar, making it a sort of a hybrid between a smart TV, an HDMI switcher, and a smart speaker. It’s a lot of things crammed together in honestly clever ways.Read Article >
So if you’re just looking for an Android TV set-top box, this thing does that. It has Google Assistant, YouTube, and all the standard set-top box apps you’d like. As with other Android TVs, you can ask Assistant to do stuff like “Play Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu,” and it’ll jump right into that show.
How to install the Android P beta today
Google just wrapped up a huge preview of the new features coming to Android P. It’s an ambitious update that includes significant changes to the operating system almost everywhere you look. The official release of Android P won’t happen until late summer, but you don’t have to wait that long to try out P’s new gestures, see the new look, and go over the depressing data showing how much time you’re spending on your phone. Beginning today, you can install the first public beta on a few supported smartphones.Read Article >
Typically, these betas have been limited to Google’s own smartphones, but with Android P, you can load the update onto a few devices from other companies as well. This is the widest mix of products that have had day-one access to a beta of a new version of Android, and we’ve got Project Treble to thank for that. Here’s the list of what’s supported:
May 8, 2018
Google’s bringing augmented reality support to Instant Apps
It’s been two years since Google introduced Instant Apps, a Google Play feature that lets users try an app without downloading it. While the format has been mostly popular with game developers, today, Google announced at its annual I/O developer conference that Instant Apps will soon support ARCore, allowing users to interact with augmented reality apps without having to download them.Read Article >
The experience will also be more closely integrated with search rather than within Google Play or in-app advertisements. For example, soon, users will be able to search for shoppable items and see a link to an Instant App that lets them place the products in front of them in augmented reality — much like the Ikea Place app that lets you virtually trial furniture pieces in your home.
The 10 biggest announcements from Google I/O 2018
Google just wrapped up its 2018 I/O keynote, and today’s event was jam-packed with news. CEO Sundar Pichai kicked things off by recognizing that the tech industry must always be responsible about the tools and services it creates. From there, the big announcements started and just kept coming. We’ve got a new, ambitious Android update on the way. John Legend is lending his voice to Google Assistant. Gmail can almost write emails entirely by itself. AI was a big theme throughout.Read Article >
Goodbye, three-button navigation. Hello, digital wellbeing Dashboard. Android P shakes up a lot of what we’ve come to know about Google’s mobile OS. It’s got a refreshed look. Key interactions like changing apps are now accomplished through iPhone X-like gestures. And there’s a new Dashboard that’s meant to plainly show “how you’re spending time on your device, including time spent in apps, how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, and how many notifications you’ve received.” You can even set time limits for individual apps if you want to cut back on compulsively staring at your phone at any moment of downtime.
May 8, 2018
All the new features coming to Google Assistant, including manners
Google made multiple major announcements related to the future of its Assistant today, including new voices, a feature to teach kids good manners, the ability to continue conversations, and Assistant being able to make phone calls on a user’s behalf.Read Article >
Google CEO Sundar Pichai says he wants Assistant to be “natural and comfortable to talk to.” As such, users can now keep a conversation going with Assistant without repeatedly saying, “Hey Google,” to start every query. If you want to ask a question, you can keep asking more until you’ve reached a natural stopping point in the conversation. The feature, called continued conversations, should be available in the “coming weeks.” Amazon’s Alexa assistant already does this with its follow-up mode.
May 8, 2018
Google Lens is moving into the camera app and gaining new features
Google has come out with a new version of Google Lens in beta, the company announced at its annual developer conference today. The new version will be built inside the camera app, instead of Google Photos, and will roll out over the next few weeks.Read Article >
As part of the latest update, Google Lens is going to be built into 10 different Android devices’ native cameras, including Google Pixel 2 and LG 7 ThinQ devices, so you don’t have to open a separate app. There will also be a real-time finder that will analyze what your camera sees even before you press click. If you point your camera at a poster of a musician, Lens can also start playing a music video.
May 8, 2018
Google News is getting an overhaul and customized news feeds
Google is giving Google News a refresh that brings all its news products into one experience, the company announced at its annual developer conference.Read Article >
The new Google News experience begins with a “For You” section that has a briefing of five top stories Google has pulled for you. This is a mix of global headlines, local news, and new developments on stories you’ve been following. You can then switch over to Headlines to see top stories from around the world. Additional sections here let you dive into different topics like sports, business, or technology.
May 8, 2018
Android P launches today in public beta
If you want to get an early look at the next version of Android, now you have the chance. Google is launching the public beta for Android P today, which you’ll be able to sign up for at this link. And in a nice twist, the beta is open to more than just Google-made phones this year: you’ll be able to get it on the Essential Phone, Oppo’s R15 Pro, Nokia’s 7 Plus, Sony’s Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2S, Vivo’s X21, the still-unreleased OnePlus 6, and of course the Pixel and Pixel 2.Read Article >
Depending on what phone you have, you’ll have to take different steps to get started with the beta; it’ll be easiest on a Pixel, which just lets you download it through the existing software update feature. The downside of testing is — and this is a big warning — once you’re in the beta program, there’s no going back. Not easily, at least: you’ll have to wipe your phone if you want to opt out and return to stable releases of Android Oreo. Keep in mind that you’re likely to encounter some bugs and probably shouldn’t try this on the phone you use daily.