While never quite the spectacle of Apple’s WWDC, Google’s annual I/O developer conference—now ten years old—offers the Alphabet-owned company the chance to preview some impressive advancements in the world of tech. To launch Google IO 2016, CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the crowd in Mountain View and premiered three notable technologies poised to help build the future of a connected world.
Consider Google assistant a non-productized version of Cortana, Siri, or Viv (note the lack of capitalization on “assistant”—which I doubt will remain for long). Google assistant isn’t really a new device; but, rather, the concept of putting Google voice-activated search into everything.
Similar to the idea behind Viv, Google assistant is meant to function across platforms; and while smartphones (such as those powered by Google’s Android OS) are certainly one reasonable destination for Google assistant, there is a myriad of potential opportunities to house this search functionality in other devices.
As an example (or, more accurately: two), Google delivered a couple real-world applications of Google assistant to the I/O 2016 crowd—both of which will be available to consumers later this year.
Allo, Google’s attempt to answer the powerhouse that is now the Facebook Messenger platform, comes integrated with the Google assistant. Unlike G-Chat, Allo is connected to users’ phone numbers—meaning it will be available for both iOS and Android devices.
Allo enables one-on-one or group chats between you and others in your device’s contact list, and, like we heard from the creators of Viv recently, will be able to communicate with other apps based on voice commands and speech pattern recognition.
Google is also providing Allo users an Incognito mode, which promises full end-to-end encryption and discreet notifications. Along with Allo, Google introduced Duo, an HD video calling app, offering the same WiFi-to-cellular transition the company currently provides for Fi subscribers. Both apps should be available this Summer.
Finally at I/O 2016, Pichai previewed Google Home, a direct competitor to the Amazon Echo, which itself has grown in popularity as of late.
Google Home is a voice-activated, “always-on” Internet-of-Things for your house, which—like Allo—is powered by Google assistant. Google Home is designed to help owners enjoy entertainment, such as music and movies; set cooking timers; find quick answers to everyday questions; and even power connected lights and thermostats (such as Google-owned Nest).
Google & Amazon are rivals in several product categories already (streaming entertainment, advertising, local services, etc), so pitting Google Home vs. Amazon Echo is nothing new for either. While Amazon certainly has the retail depth and experience, Google’s search and technical knowledge could make Home an interesting product in its own right.
We’ll have to wait and see, as Google Home isn’t expected to come out until later this year.