5 Google I/O Launches With Serious Wow Factor

Google Aims High

Recent years have seen many tech companies push ahead of Google in areas that are on the frontiers of what's next. Amazon popularized smart speakers and speech recognition with Echo, Facebook popularized virtual reality with its acquisition and investment in the Oculus platform, and numerous tech firms took the lead in pioneering new types of messaging apps.

During the keynote at Google I/O this week, however, Google made a compelling case that it's stepping up its game, said Aric Bandy, president of Agosto, a Google Apps for Work partner based in Minneapolis.

"For our customers and the market as a whole, Google is yet again going to change the way we interact with technology," he said.

During the developers conference keynote, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google unveiled a series of products, platforms and apps, many of them leveraging apparent advances in artificial intelligence technologies.

By and large the offerings were consumer-focused, but Bandy told CRN they could have implications for businesses and the channel in the near future, too.

Here are the five ways Google grabbed our attention.

Google Home/Google Assistant

Google showed off its new interactive speaker, Google Home, that uses the virtual Google Assistant to converse with users and accomplish tasks for them. During a video, Google Home is shown answering questions, changing dinner reservations, and giving updates on an upcoming flight to family members as they prepare for their day.

Agosto's Bandy said the scene is "not unlike what it's like when I get into the office" -- and it's not hard to imagine a Google Home-like solution making its way into the workplace before long.

Google did not disclose pricing or specific availability information for Google Home.

Daydream VR

Google said that its new platform for virtual reality, Daydream, will make use of the new version of Android, Android N. The platform will work on mobile with phones equipped with certain screens and sensors. Phones that will be able to use Daydream are planned for availability this fall, Google said.

Google also showed off a "reference design" for a VR headset that could run off a smartphone.


Google revealed what it calls a "smart messaging app," Allo, that learns over time from its users with the goal of making conversations easier, as well as "more expressive and more productive." This can mean auto-generated "smart replies" to certain types of messages, such as photos. Other features include the ability to draw on photos and to change the font size of messages.

Allo is expected to be available this summer for both Android and Apple iOS.


Google also unveiled a video calling app, Duo, that promises some new types of features compared with existing apps such as FaceTime. One is that, as the call is ringing, the user on the other end will be able to already see video of what's happening on the caller's phone. The "Knock Knock" feature aims to "draw you into the moment, making calls feel spontaneous and natural," Google said.

Duo is planned for release for Android and iOS this summer.

Android N

Google showed off changes to its Android operating system that aim to improve performance, security and productivity. (The upcoming version of the OS, Android N, does not yet have a final name.) Google said performance on Android N has been improved in areas including graphics and runtime, while security enhancements include file-based encryption and more seamless updates to software.

In terms of productivity, Google said one change will be that it wlll now be easier for users to find the app they want because most users only select from the last seven apps they used -- so those will be the ones most easily available. There will also be a "clear all" button added that will close all open apps.

Android N will get a "direct reply" feature as well that will let users send off a quick response to a message without launching an app, as well as the previously disclosed split-screen feature for running two apps on the screen next to each other.