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Google I/O 2017: Android O, Google Assistant, Google Lens & more

On the first day of Google’s I/O developer conference, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Android is now on 2 billion devices. Here are some highlights from the conference.

Android O beta released

Google released the public beta for the next iteration of its Android operating system, ‘O’. Some improvements include “Notification Dots,” which allow users to preview messages from apps without opening the apps themselves; O is also optimised for better battery life and improvements in security and performance. It also has new options when selecting text, like a Maps option for when users select addresses.

Android Go for entry-level smartphones

The tech giant announced Android Go, a barebones version of the Android operating system for cheaper smartphones. The multilingual OS will run essential Google apps optimised for slow connections and low storage. These apps include YouTube Go, a version of the YouTube app that allows users to download videos to watch later, and also lets them choose the video bitrate before playing. Android Go apps are optimised to work well offline too. This OS variant will be particularly useful for Google to penetrate low-income smartphone markets like India, where feature phones are still common — as the Indian market transitions completely away from feature phones to smartphones, Android Go may provide a useful and inexpensive stepping stone.

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Google Assistant is now on the iPhone

Google’s Assistant service is now available on the iPhone, a major milestone for the platform. Google Assistant is a competitor to Apple’s Siri assistant, and now both will compete on iOS. Android users with the Nougat update have the Assistant, and for other users, Assistant is integrated into Allo, Google’s chat application. This expansion comes as more developers are getting into the mobile assistant game, including Samsung with its AI-enabled assistant Bixby.

Improvements to Google Photos

Google has updated its Google Photos app to recognise faces and search for people in albums. This is similar to Apple’s facial recognition feature in Photos for Mac and iPhones. Other new features include being able to print ‘photo books’ directly from the app, automated bundling of photos based on location and facial recognition, and suggested sharing of those photos to others.

Google Lens does real-time image recognition

Using smartphone cameras, Google Lens recognizes what a user is pointing their device at, and provides input based on machine learning and variables such as location. For example, if a user points their phone at a storefront, Google Lens will recognize the store and even pull up data from Google Maps for more information. It can also recognize things like flower species and other objects. Lens will initially be available on Google Photos only.

Jobs by Google

Google announced Google for Jobs, a search engine for jobs. It will initially be available only in the US, and will aggregate job openings based on industry, location, pay grade, and other factors. Google for Jobs will use variables from job seekers to match them to the most suitable job listing in their area. The service will use AI to match users with job listings. Google will be partnering with established job sites like Monster and CareerBuilder for the platform.

Google’s entry into the job listing market is significant for both the industry of job listing companies as well as for Google itself; the company had so far stayed away from what is bound to be a highly popular and monetization-rich service ecosystem. It is now formally trying to compete with Linkedin and other independent job portals.

Written By

I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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