At I/O this year, Google displayed its vision for a more ubiquitous and conversational way of interacting with technology. Its Assistant is chattier, answering natural language queries with a more human voice, and it’s found its way into several new Google products: the messenger Allo and the Echo-like speaker Home. Both are areas where other companies have a lead, but Google’s strength in AI gave these services some nice twists, doing things like automatically generating surprisingly specific reactions to photos.
Google also announced improvements to Android — though N, out of beta this summer, still needs to be named — as well as a mobile VR platform that will come with the new OS. There’s a FaceTime rival Duo as well, and a way to run Android apps without downloading anything.
Google Assistant is sort of a broad idea, in that it sounds, at first, a lot like what Android has built into Google Now. Ask it a question via voice, it’ll answer.
But beyond that, Assistant is Google’s way of formalizing two ideas: contextual answers to voice queries (like being able to say “How’s my team doing?” and have it know which team you mean), and a universal platform for voice queries across devices
Android Wear 2.0
Google also announced the biggest overhaul to Android Wear since it was released back in 2014. That said, Android Wear 2.0 isn’t shockingly different from the first version, but there are a few changes that will definitely change the experience. For one, users can now make data from any app show up on any watch face — similar to how complications work on the Apple Watch.
Most importantly, Android Wear 2.0 is supposed to help your smartwatch become more autonomous. Google says that watches equipped with the new version will need to rely less on smartphones and cellular connections, freeing up users to be more active without lugging their phones around. Features like automatic exercise recognition and better third-party app syncing should help this, too. And, of course, Google showed off a tiny, swipeable QWERTY keyboard, because who doesn’t want to type on their wrist?