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Fast Forward: Google Shows Off AI Prowess at Annual Developer Conference

And Everything Else That Brands Need To Know from Google I/O 2018

What Google Announced

Google Assistant Gets Naturally Conversational & Visually Assistive

Google shared that its voice assistant is now available on 500 million devices worldwide and works with five thousand different kinds of connected home devices. While it still trails Amazon Alexa in term of smart speaker market share, what Google lacks in domestic market penetration, it more than makes it up in its global reach (now available in 80 countries supporting 30 languages), as well as its variety. Six new voices — including one based on Singer John Legend’s voice and all powered by Wavenet tech — will become available for users to choose from later this year. Google is also updating its voice assistant to add smaller features like Continued Conversation and Multiple Actions, all serving to make the conversation flows more naturally.

Google Lens Learns New Tricks And Gets Into Cameras

After finally being released to all Android phones via Google Photos and Google Assistant earlier this year, Google is finally ready to push Google Lens to a wider audience. Starting next week, Lens will be integrated into the native camera app on the Google Pixel phones and the LG G7. Google says it will come to other major Android headsets soon. While this will dramatically increase the exposure of the visual search feature and help more users discover this feature, it also risks turning off a wider range of Android users if it can’t deliver the results it seemingly promises, similar to the way that Siri’s poor performance at launch turned away a lot of users, who simply refused to give Siri another chance despite its improvement in recent years. Given the general disappointment with Google Lens since its initial wide release back in February, Google clearly still has some work to do in terms of managing the feature roll-out and setting user expectations.

Google Maps Gets AR Navigation And AI Recommendations

Google Lens wasn’t the only Google product that got a major AR upgrade. With the help of VPS (visual positioning system) and AR overlays, Google Maps users will soon be able to hold up their cameras and find clearly marked visual cues in the environment to help them figure out exactly which street they are on and which way to turn in order to get to their destinations, even prompting a cute cartoon fox to lead the way. By introducing AR into Maps for pedestrian navigation, Google finally started to tackle one of the most obvious and sought-after real-world use cases of augmented reality, which will have a good chance at introducing mobile AR to an even wider audience.

Android P Gets Major AI Boost And A Digital Wellbeing Focus

It wouldn’t be Google I/O without unveiling of the next generation of Android. This year, Google highlighted three key aspect of its next-gen mobile OS — Simplicity (mainly through new gesture controls that streamlines the interactions), Intelligence through a bevy of AI-powered features, and a new concept called “Digital Wellbeing” that aims to help users kick their phone addiction.

Google News Revamped As Standalone App To Capture Attention

Another area that Google is now leveraging AI to break into is news consumption. The company debuted a revamped Google News app that will be available across platforms including Android, iOS and the web. Clearly positioned as a competitor to Apple News and Facebook’s News Feed, this new Google News service aims to use AI to analyze a constant flow of news report in real time and organize it into narratives by topics. Users will be able to do a deep dive on news stories and get different perspectives on it by digging deeper into all the relevant reports curated and compiled by Google’s algorithms. The app will also integrate multimedia content including tweets, videos, and interactive timelines to offer a rich reading experience.

Waymo To Launch Autonomous Ride Service In Phoenix

To close out Google’s AI-led keynote address, CEO of Waymo, John Krafcik took the stage and boasted the superiority of its self-driving tech. According to Krafcik, Waymo is currently the only self-driving car company with a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles on public roads — with 6 million miles so far — that has fed its systems a huge amount of real-world data to learn from. The company, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, started on-road testing in Phoenix, AZ last year with members of its “early riders program”, which the company says is looking to officially launch as an on-demand ride-sharing service in that city “later this year.”

What Google Didn’t Say

Much as what Google announced reveals their strategy, so does what they chose to left out of the keynote address. There was zero mention of VR and the Daydream VR headset that took up significant stage time in the two years past, signifying Google’s dwindling confidence in consumer VR at the moment. Also missing from the keynote was the Wear OS, or anything resembling a wearable strategy from Google, leaving the market wide open for Apple to take.

What Brands Need To Do

Overall, this Google I/O event is a strong showcase of how Google is able to leverage its free, data-capturing services to improve its AI capabilities. AI and machine learning are becoming instrumental in delivering an intuitive and personalized user experience, and the key takeaway for brands here is to start utilizing all the developer tools available, such as Google’s ML Kit and Amazon’s SageMaker platform, to incorporate AI-powered automation and prediction into their digital experience.

Want To Know More?

If you’d like a customized deep-dive into how your brand can best leverage Google’s tools and services to effectively reach customers, please reach out to our VP of Client Services, Josh Mallalieu (josh@ipglab.com) to start a conversation.



The media futures agency of IPG Mediabrands

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