The keynote speech from the Google I/O conference piqued my interest this week. No sooner had I processed the Microsoft improvements promised in the Fall Creators Update, but their rivals Google were tempting me with new tweaks to existing kit, lots of AI and machine learning.
I have to admit I’ve not bought into the automated house and Internet of Things as yet, although the demonstrations I’ve seen look promising. But AI is something I’m interested in, probably because of a misspent youth reading and watching altogether too much science fiction.
The announcement about Google Lens was interesting. Google is suggesting that Lens will be to objects what Shazam is to music, identifying items and telling the user what they are. The keynote promised it will be able to identify flowers, menus and even wifi router stickers to allow automatic login. As someone who often has to ask mine host what the password is, this could be particularly useful. Google Lens will apparently initially be part of the Assistant and Photos apps.
Google’s Daydream headset is due an upgrade. The phone will no longer necessarily have to be attached to the headset, plus the company is working with Samsung to enable accessibility via the Galaxy range. For Samsung, this is an upgrade too, as it opens their headsets to new compatibility. Standalone headsets are also in the works, being aimed at partnerships with other popular mobile phone brands. These tweaks are officially ‘coming soon’.
Google Photos will soon be able to remove extraneous items which get in the way of a perfect shot. So, no more fences, heads or other items spoiling the look of a photo. Sharing photos is also set to become easier in the new iteration, thanks to enhanced sharing abilities. There are many other specialist tweaks for users too.
Visual Positioning System – VPS
This is a refined version of a sat nav, described in the Google I/O keynote as the ability to locate within a few centimetres. When fully functional, it will be able to find an individual product in a shop. The software uses the Tango visualisation app, which is presently not widely available. Once it is, expect this tweak to be useful.
Google Home is still undergoing additions, which means it is currently not as popular as rival Amazon’s Alexa IA technology. But it is still rolling out improvements such as calling via Home, proactive information and a software development kit. The aim is to have it interconnected across Google devices, so a request for a calendar can be displayed on a compatible screen while directions will be sent to the Google-enabled phone for use when needed.
Google’s app will soon be available on iPhone as well as Android devices, which is another departure for the two firms, which have long sought to keep their particular proprietary software out of the opposition’s hands. Given that Android already has over 2 billion active devices a month, this is likely to raise these figures even more.
There are also developments on the AI front, with the suggestion that the cloud could become even more successful in the future. According to Google, AI and machine learning are the hot new topics of coming years, and us mere mortals should be on the lookout for them. They may not be ready to take over the world just yet, but they’re on the march.