In Case You Missed It: Here’s What Happened At The Google I/O Keynote Address

During every year’s Google I/O conference, the highlight from the standpoint of tech bloggers, Android enthusiasts and other users of Google products is the keynote address, and this year’s presentation was no exception. Google Assistant, Google Home, Allo, Duo, Android N, Android Wear 2.0, Daydream and Instant Apps were but a few of the highlights featured. Here’s a quick recap of our Google I/O 2016 Keynote Address coverage:

Google Assistant Subheader

Google has long had the voice-driven “OK Google” feature integrated into its bread-and-butter search app, but in Wednesday’s Keynote address they announced its successor, Google Assistant. This virtual assistant will not only do everything “OK Google” does but it will be able to carry on a two-way conversation, buy movie tickets, play videos and take you on virtual tours (among many other things) without leaving the app. If that sounds similar to Amazon Echo’s functionality, the next item discussed in the presentation is even more so.

Google Home Subheader

Google Home is clearly positioned to be a competitor to Amazon Echo, so the most obvious question is why one would choose Google’s product over Echo. It’s difficult to make a meaningful comparison at this early stage, when we don’t know how many third-party apps or services will support Google Home, and we don’t know how much Google will charge for its device.

What we do know is that Google’s offering will be able to control any Google Cast-enabled device, meaning it can play audio from multiple speakers and play videos on connected TVs (unlike Echo). Powered by the aforementioned Google Assistant, Home will have superior search capabilities to Amazon’s Alexa courtesy of the strides Google has made in machine learning, voice recognition and its Knowledge Graph-powered search engine. Also, Google Home will be able to control…

Allo Subheader

While Google’s new Allo messaging platform might seem to be a successor to Hangouts, it more closely resembles a successor to SMS/MMS apps like its own Messenger (users interact via their phone numbers rather than email addresses). Like Google Home, Allo is powered by Google’s new virtual Assistant, allowing users to take advantage of all of its features without leaving the app. One of its more quirky features is the ability to send emphatic messages with larger font sizes, meaning that VIRTUALLY YELLING BY USING ALL CAPS might soon become extinct. Allo will be complemented by a video messaging app called…

Duo Subheader

Like Allo, Duo is based on your phone number, and users can connect via video even if one has an Android phone while the other has an iPhone. Unlike other video chat platforms, Duo offers the creep-tastic “Knock Knock” feature (insert a bazillion Internet memes here): the one receiving the call can see video from the one sending the call even before accepting it. The caller can’t see the one being called until the latter answers, but it will no doubt still be unnerving to suddenly see a video of a contact pop up on the phone. For example, someone could be busy writing a recap of a certain Google presentation when suddenly a video of someone else screaming “Hey Jeff! I know you’re there! Answer the phone!” pops up on the screen. Incidentally, by the time Allo and Duo are available that phone could be running at least the third preview of…

Android N Subheader

Most of what Google revealed about Android N has already been covered in previous articles, Features like the Vulkan graphics engine, multiwindow, streamlined notifications and new emojis have been known for a while. What hadn’t been already been covered is the release of the third Android N preview, which brings a native VR mode which can be experienced with Google Cardboard and background updates (by the way, Google welcomes your suggestions for what “N” will stand for). The latter feature downloads the latest Android system image in the background and installs it the next time the phone is rebooted. Also, there will be no “Android is updating app ## of ###…” dialog tying up your phone for what seems like forever when it boots up. So about that VR mode…

Daydream Subheader

Daydream is Google’s effort to take VR beyond the app level and integrate it into the operating system itself. It’s like a VR skin added to Android in which the entire device can be controlled through a VR interface, not just a few apps. Speaking of apps, Google will be including a VR-based version of the Play Store through which you can install other VR-ready apps. In addition to the next Nexus/Nexii, Daydream will be coming to future HTC, Samsung, LG, Asus, Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, and Alcatel devices. If time seems to just fly by while immersed in a Daydream, it might be wise to check the time on a watch powered by…

Android Wear 20 Subheader

There are some fairly significant changes coming to the next generation of Android Wear watches (and naturally existing watches once they’re updated) once Android Wear 2.0 goes live. Perhaps the biggest change involves making the watch more of a communication tool than a mere notification-receiving tool. Features such as Smart Reply (demoed in Allo and already available in Inbox) and a gesture-based keyboard will be key to this transition. There will also be some standalone apps that don’t depend on a connected phone, a refreshed UI and enhanced watchfaces that can draw from more apps. Naturally, a watch can tell when it’s time to relax and watch the latest episode of a favorite show on…

Android TV Subheader

Not to be overlooked during the keynote presentation are the changes coming to Android TV, such as (GASP!) picture-in-picture and the ability to record live TV. These features, of course, come with APIs that allow third-party developers to add multitasking capabilities. Soon we may be able to play a game in one window while recording the latest episode of Dr. Who.

Do you want to watch the keynote address for yourself? The entire presentation is available below for your viewing pleasure…

You can find all of our Google I/O coverage here.