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Top takeaways from the Google I/O 2018 Keynote

Google I/O 2018 began in earnest today and we’ve got a team on the ground at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California taking it all in. Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked things off this morning with an announcement-packed Keynote address. There’s a LOT to unpack and we recommend watching the whole thing, but we’ve pulled out our top takeaways below:

Artificial Intelligence is still the name of the game

Keeping with the theme of last year to pursue an AI-first approach, Google made a significant change just before the keynote by rebranding the Google Research division to Google AI. CEO Sundar Pichai began the keynote by showing remarkable applications of AI in healthcare, showing how AI can be used to predict life-threatening events like congestive heart failure.

AI continued to appear throughout the talk as a central driver for latest enhancements in Google’s products, demonstrations of its increasing ease of use for developers, and its implications for preserving and increasing a user’s digital wellbeing. Machine Learning also showed up in a huge way through the announcements of new tools: ML Kit (an SDK for bringing machine learning integration for intelligent features like face detection, text recognition to third-party developer apps) and a showcase of Google’s new tensor processing unit 3.0.

Google Assistant gets real

Most of the keynote was taken up by the new enhancements in Google Assistant. Most exciting of which is the ability of Google assistant to make calls for you to set up appointments and reservations: Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKVppdt_-B4 In their push to make Google Assistant more naturally conversational, the assistant can now also parse and carry out multiple actions from a single command(e.g., “Hey Google, dim the lights and turn the music on.”) It’s clear that this kind of detail is what will take many users from skepticism to adoption in the next few months.

Lots of new stuff coming for Android

With Android they focused on three things: Intelligence, simplicity and Digital wellbeing. To that end Google introduced intelligent enhancements to Android, e.g. Adaptive battery, where android fine tunes battery use by predicting usage per app. There’s adaptive brightness that changes your phone’s brightness depending on the time of the day. Similar to the predictive apps in your launcher, the launcher will now include predictive actions as well.

One of the most exciting new announcements for Android is Slices. These are essentially parts of your app that can show in searches on mobile. So your app gets visibility when it’s the most pertinent. As for digital wellbeing, Android introduced the Dashboard where you can see you app usage and also limit your time on certain apps, encouraging users toward a more healthy relationship to their phone as a utility device, not a distraction.

We’ll be keeping tabs on Google I/O as it progresses, so stay tuned!

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