The main takeaway from Google I/O 2018, the search giant’s annual developer conference, is the shift of company’s focus to two new areas of emerging technology in the form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).
The main theme of the entire event demonstrating Google’s keynote was that AI and ML advancements will be the driving factors in most of its products whether it be Android phone or the self-driven Waymo car. Undoubtedly, the main highlight of the event was the demonstration of Google Assistant using the Duplex technology developed by the company to call to an unsuspecting human. The pleasantly surprising thing about the call was that Google Assistant acted in form of a human while making the call to carry out the assigned task.
Now, it is quite evident that Google Assistant will soon be seen making calls on behalf of users in the US but at the same time its functionality will remain limited to three tasks: booking a restaurant, a hair salon appointment and checking closing/holiday hours for a business. However, it is a question of debate whether this new technology will take place of humans to act as virtual assistants in the near future or not. According to Google, although the voice-calling ability of Google Assistant is still in its experimental stage but now it is quite obvious that this technology remains no longer just a stuff of science fiction but will be seen in practical as digital assistant will start carrying out our day to day tasks in as much natural way as possible.
Among the other takeaways from Google I/O was Android P which again is associated with AI and ML technologies. Android P is a new technology which will predict the next action that a user might want to carry out on his phone. For example, if a user plugs in earphones in his phone, it may prompt the Android phone to ask if the user wants to open and play a music application like Spotify as his immediate next action based on his phone usage habits. Another takeaway from Google I/O 2018 was that of an Adaptive Battery. It figures out the app usage of the phone user and prioritises battery for the ones which are used most. This helps to improve efficiency and extend the Smartphone’s average battery life. As another noteworthy feature, Google will have a new Machine Learning ML Kit for app developers, which will work on Android as well as iOS. The intention behind this is to help developers create apps which make use of these ML Kit tools to aid in the process of “text recognition, face detection, image labeling,” etc.
One more product that is being associated with AI and ML is Google News and now it has been totally redesigned from scratch. Now, Google News will be the only news app from Google and it will also integrate company’s earlier Newsstand app. According to Google, now Google News will rely on a “new set of AI techniques”. As per this new technique, the flow of new information will be taken look at, analysed and then it will be sorted into storylines. As per the company, it also means that now onwards Google News will understand “the people, places and things involved in a story as it evolves, and connects how they relate to one another”.
One more facet that will be closely associated with AI will be the ‘Smart Compose’ feature of Gmail allowing users to complete their sentence even before they type it in Gmail by understanding the context of the email. To explain it further, based on the subject of the email and the first half of the sentences, ‘Smart Compose’ will suggest the text to fill in. According to the research done by Google, their AI model can be highly useful in the area of healthcare. It can predict cardiovascular events more accurately and help doctors to find health problems early and do a better diagnosis. This in any way does not mean AI will replace doctors but it will surely make healthcare much more effective in the future. This was one more out of the many significant takeaways from Google I/O 2018.