Google I/O is over and Google has announced a number of interesting things to talk and think about, from promoting users’ wellbeing by reminding you to put your phone away to a system that can call stores and makes appointments for you.

The tech community always looks toward these events from the tech giants each year not only for a sense of what new tech is coming, but as a way to understand the direction of tech at a higher level. Still, it can be difficult to pull that kind of business insight out of an event as packed and multi-faceted as Google I/O.

We’ve highlighted what we think are the most important announcements from I/O '18 for tech-forward businesses below.

1. Get your app in front of customers when they need it most with App Actions/Slices

What you need to know

Google announced they are going to promote products through something they’re calling “App Actions”. It’s basically a way for your app to highlight that it can perform a certain service at identifiable moments in customer interactions with Google products. They’re going to be promoting these services in:

  • The Google Search App
  • Google assistant
  • Android Launcher
  • Text Selection

This means that if your users select text that matches something like a movie, then Google will automatically detect that and suggest apps that offer tickets or the ability to watch that movie.

What you need to do

This kind of in-app, Google-sanctioned access to customers isn’t easy to come by, but the early-adopters of app actions will have a leg up on their competitors by being featured first. Make sure your app supports the actions that Google has highlighted as soon to be supported, and keep an eye on the roadmap for future launches.

You can check here and here to see if these apply to your industry now and keep in mind that you’ll be able to request new ones once app actions are live.

2. Google Assistant, more powerful and in more places

What you need to know

Google is integrating the Assistant more into Maps, cars, and devices with visual displays. To make this the best experience possible, Google announced new dynamic display options for action developers. In the keynote they showed a dial for thermostats, a detailed UI with video instructions for cooking, and a menu for Starbucks. To see some of these in action, take a look at the keynote here.

What you need to do

Not all of these new features and capabiities are live yet, it’s important to start thinking through the most beneficial ways for customers to interact multi-modally with your product now.

You’ll want to identify services your product can offer in these different environments and think through what type of UI can take advantage of these new systems. We highly recommend getting your strategy team to take a look and come up with a plan to make your brand verbally proficient.

3. Android Things is blowing IoT wide open

What you need to know

Google has been working on their Internet of Things platform—dubbed “Android Things”—for some time now, and at I/O they finally released version 1.0 to the public. For companies interested in the IoT space, Google will handle the operating system and security updates for your product’s firmware so that your company can focus on the functional aspects of your system. The technical information on this can be found in the official Android Things documentation.

What you need to do

This blows the IoT space wide open. For companies looking to build IoT products, shipping an embedded IoT system can be accomplished with Android developers, omitting the need for building a complex (and expensive) architecture in-house. This should help IoT companies get to market faster and leaner.

To prove that it’s ready, a number of Google’s partners are releasing Android Things-enabled smart speakers and smart screens. If you have any device you’re looking to produce it would be irresponsible to not give Android Things a serious consideration.

4. ML Kit puts machine learning within your company’s reach

What you need to know

Google Talked a lot about their new cloud capabilities for machine learning, but the more impressive thing they did was release a kit for iOS and Android to do 5 feats:

  • Text recognition
  • Face detection
  • Barcode scanning
  • Image labeling
  • Landmark recognition

What you need to do

Features like accurate text recognition in images may have seemed impossible for you to add to your app before, but Google made it a reality. And since it’s hosted on their servers, the algorithms will continue to get better and better with no effort on your end. Take advantage of this now before your competitor does.