What I learned from Google I/O 2019

Victor Ireri
Jul 3 · 13 min read
Google I/O countdown

Android

Bubbles
This new multitasking feature will allow users to keep track of their most important tasks and access them anywhere in the operating system at any time via a floating, draggable icon that sits above other apps. Selecting the bubble expands it into a small, fully interactable window which hosts the app. Samsung users familiar with the ‘pop-up view’ will find that the Bubbles feature shares some similarities.

Privacy

Q is introducing a new section in the device settings dedicated to privacy. It will give users full control of the information they choose to share on a per-app basis. New restrictions have also been added to prevent apps from launching themselves from the background without user interaction. Location permission requests will also be changing. No longer will the options presented to the user be binary. The user can now choose to allow the app permission all the time, when the app is in the foreground or not at all.

Huawei Mate X
Android Q’s fully gestural navigation
Testing Night Mode in the ASOS Android app

Android Studio

What’s new in Android Studio? Nothing. Well, no brand new features at least. But that’s not necessarily bad news. Dubbed ‘Project Marble’, the Android Studio engineering team have been focusing exclusively on addressing the top issues affecting users. This includes improving system health, polishing features and fixing bugs. As a QA Engineer, I have to commend them for making what was certainly not an easy decision.

Google Play

Here’s a rundown of the notable features and improvements that have been introduced to Google Play:

  • In-app updates will provide a seamless update experience for users by showing an update dialog within the app in question. The feature will adhere to the targeting rules set in the Play Console so if only 5% of users should get the update then only they will see the dialog.
  • Internal app sharing is now available to make sharing APKs and (crucially) app bundles a quick and painless process without the need to create and manage a release.
  • Custom peer groups allow developers to use the combined average of Android Vitals statistics from 8-12 peers (of the developer’s choice) as a benchmark. A separate list of peers can also be configured for Play Store rating comparisons.
  • Play Store ratings will be changing for the better in August 2019. Average app ratings will no longer be a lifetime cumulative value but will instead be calculated with heavier weight given to more recent reviews to better reflect the app’s current state. 🎉 Your app’s new rating is now available alongside the lifetime rating in the Play Console.
  • Custom store listings were recently introduced to allow for better targeting of audiences per country and region. Now, users can also be targeted by the following app install states: not yet installed, uninstalled and currently installed. This discards the ‘one size fits all’ approach in favour of a more customised experience where the listing title, icon, description and graphics can be changed to retain existing users and entice new and previous ones.
  • The Play Academy has now been updated to include these and many more improvements made to Google Play over the last year.

AI, AR & Machine Learning

Yup, it’s those buzzwords again. Few tech innovators can resist mentioning these terms, but as Google has shown, they’re more than just phrases misused to feign integration of these exciting but complex technologies and the progress made with Google Assistant and others is a testament to that; though as I have come to understand, the human element underpinning much of these advancements cannot be ignored.

The rest

There was plenty more going on at Google I/O than I’ve mentioned here but fear not, there’s a YouTube playlist of all the recorded sessions. There are over 175 of them - that’s a lot. The livestream event schedule may, therefore, come in handy as you can quickly filter the list of sessions.

  • Wear OS was hardly mentioned during the conference so my colleague put this to the panel at the Android Fireside Chat.
    👏👏👏
  • This year’s Android collectable is modular. The head, upper and lower body and legs are detachable. They were available in the four Google colours - red, green, blue and yellow - allowing unique colour combinations to be created.
  • Fungineers, an entertainment group with an eclectic mix of performances, put a smile on everyone’s faces as they made their way around the venue.

On a personal note

It was my first time in the US so at almost every turn I experienced snippets of US culture that I had only ever seen on TV such as shopping at Walmart or treating myself to waffles and pancakes for breakfast.😋 I also had the opportunity to cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Fun fact: when Google Street View was launched in 2007, it was the first location I visited. The bridge looks even more grandiose in real life. From the moment the plane touched down at San Francisco airport, to watching the final Keynote of the event in the Amphitheatre, the whole experience felt surreal. I did my best to absorb as much as I could from the city as well as the conference and with any luck, I’ll be back in the not too distant future. I’d like to give a big thanks to my colleagues Savvas Dalkitsis & Andrea Trocino who accompanied me on this trip and helped make my first US visit truly unforgettable.

More about me

I work at ASOS primarily as a QA Engineer on the Android app but I have been known to develop small features and fix bugs. When I’m not dissecting apps, you’ll find me daydreaming about space travel or pondering the dystopian futures presented to us by shows such as Black Mirror.

The ASOS Tech Blog

A collective effort from ASOS's Tech Team, driven and directed by our writers. Learn about our engineering, our culture, and anything else that's on our mind.

Thanks to Rosie Tredwell.

Victor Ireri

Written by

Apps QA Engineer @ ASOS

The ASOS Tech Blog

A collective effort from ASOS's Tech Team, driven and directed by our writers. Learn about our engineering, our culture, and anything else that's on our mind.