In this article we take a look at some of Google’s products announced on the Day 1 of Google I/O 2016, and how they stack up against competitors:
Google Home to compete with Amazon Echo: Google announced its first smart assistant device by introducing Google Home, a vase like device that competes with Amazon’s Echo. The voice activated device can answer questions by search Google, stream music, and manage various automated tasks. Being a primarily search company, Google should have the advantage on how accurate and relevant answers provided by the device are.
Google also has various home devices like Nest and Chromecast which could be made controllable through the Home devices. While Amazon offers an API for the Echo device, enabling developers to build custom apps, Google could do the same. Additionally, Google can integrate Gmail, Calendar and other Google services that people use with the device straight of of the box.
Allo to take on Messenger & WhatsApp: Google announced Allo (pronounced “Aloe”), its new messaging app at the I/O conference. The app will be available later this year for free on both iOS and Android. The app is similar to WhatsApp in that users can connect with their phone numbers with no need to sign in with Google. Allo comes with a Google assistant that users can chat with my typing @google. The app responds with Google searches and can do things like book a table with OpenTable.
According to the Verge, which was able to try out the app, Google’s chatbot is smarter than other chatbots, and can even play games like “guess the movie based on a string of emoji.” The assistant also suggests smart replies to photos and conversations. However, unlike Messenger, Allo doesn’t yet offer an API for developers to build chatbots on the platform.
Interestingly, to do all this, Allo cannot turn on end-to-end encryption by default, as Google has to first read the messages. To address this Google offers an incognito mode where encryption is turned on by default, and claims that even in the normal mode, the company does not save the messages, and only uses them temporarily to generate answers. Other features include ability to increase or decrease size of text, doodling on photos etc.
Google’s Duo to compete with Facetime & Skype: Duo is a one-to-one video calling app that will work on both Android and iOS. This app uses a Google sign in to chat with other users in their contacts list. The app is lightweight at 5mb, and Google claims that it can work on relatively slow connections. The app can also handle a user’s phone network switching between WiFi and cellular network without dropping the call. Interestingly, the app has a ‘knock knock’ feature that displays the video from an incoming call on the lockscreen, before the user has a chance to answer. We can’t help but feel this has immense scope for abuse, something twitterati were quick notice:
— Daniel Echeverri (@Danielckx) May 18, 2016
Knock knock in google’s new video app Duo is going to take unsolicited dick pics to a whole new level 🙁
— focalintent (@focalintent) May 18, 2016
Android Pay gets updates: Google’s Android Pay will now work at some ATMs of the Bank of America, letting users tap their phones to make a withdrawal. The company added that it will likely add other banks in the future. From a developer point of view, Google has worked with partners like Stripe, Braintree and others to integrate Android Pay into their payment services. Note that Apple had said in January this year, that it was working with Bank of America and Wells Fargo to integrate Apple Pay into their ATMs. Google had also announced its intentions of integrating with ATMs around the same time, and seems to have got there first.
Image source: Google