Everything You Need To Know From The 2016 Google I/O Keynote

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Everything You Need To Know From The 2016 Google I/O Keynote

Another year, another Google I/O Keynote slammed with back-to-back announcements.

Miss our live blog earlier? Don’t have time to catch up on every last bit of news? Don’t sweat it: We’ve compressed the most important bits into bite-sized morsels for lightning-fast perusal. Ready? Click to the right for the next slide if you’re on desktop, or just scroll on if you’re on mobile.


Google Goes After The Amazon Echo

Take Amazon’s Echo. Give it Google’s insane voice recognition abilities and access to Google’s entire knowledge graph. Make it a bit shorter. Bam. Google Home.

As rumored (though previously rumored to be called “Chirp”), Home is Google’s answer to the Echo.

You can:
– Use it as a speaker, and as a control box for Chromecasts around your house, with commands like “Play Elvis in the living room”
– Put multiple units around your house for a multi-room setup
– Ask it basic stuff, like the weather, or movie times, or to call an Uber
– Ask it more complicated questions that would be hard for other companies to parse — things like “What was the US Population in the year NASA was founded?”

It’s all powered by…


Android N's New Name:

And the next version of Android (Temporarily codenamed “Android N”) will be called…..

To Be Determined. Really! They dunno yet.

They’re turning to the Internet for ideas on what to call Android N, because Internet naming contests never go poorly, right?


Android N's New Stuff:

Much of the new stuff from Android N has already been discovered in preview builds that Google released over the last few weeks, but they highlighted some of their favorites today:

– A built-in solution for running multiple apps splitscreen. Some Samsung/LG devices already do this, but it’s never been an official Android thing
– A new notifications dropdown with in-line replies
– Increased security by way of file-based encryption and automatic system updates that the user doesn’t have to manage
– They’re finally getting rid of that painful “Android is optimizing x of a bazillion apps” screen that tends to show up and take forever at boot up
– Enhanced graphics and runtime frameworks, including a new ultra-high power graphics API called Vulkan

The first “beta quality” release (meaning its probably safe to run on your primary phone) ships to developers today.


Google Assistant:

Google Assistant is sort of a broad idea, in that it sounds, at first, a lot like what Android has built into Google Now. Ask it a question via voice, it’ll answer.

But beyond that, Assistant is Google’s way of formalizing two ideas: contextual answers to voice queries (like being able to say “How’s my team doing?” and have it know which team you mean), and a universal platform for voice queries across devices.



Google announced two new apps today.

First up: Allo, a messaging app… with a slight twist.

Remember the “Google Assistant” from the last slide? It’s got that built in at the core of the product.

If you and your friends start talking about Italian food, a subtle icon pops up letting you know that Assistant might have info that can help. Tap it, and it’ll offer up Italian restaurants that everyone in the conversation can see. Ask assistant for a reservation, and it’ll make it happen.

It’s like a chatbot that lurks in the background and primarily exists to shout “Hey! Listen!” every once in a while.


Smart Reply Sneaks Into Allo

Remember the “Smart Reply” feature introduced into Gmail a while back? The one that tries to predict how you’ll respond to something and offer it up as a one-click response?

That’ll be a part of Allo.

Crazier yet: it’ll analyze images that people send you and formulate contextual responses, like “Nice bernese mountain dog!” in response to that picture of a friggin’ BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG. Crazy.



Meanwhile, they also showed off Duo, a one-to-one video messaging app focusing on a new feature that Google calls “Knockknock.”

When someone calls you on Duo, you can see them before you answer. It’s like looking through the peephole before answering the door. Google says this makes conversations less jarring, less intrusive and more natural.

Is it a feature worthy of its own, standalone app? Maybe not. But it’s definitely one of those “Why haven’t we done it this way ALWAYS!?” features.


Android Instant Apps:

This one came almost out of the blue, and blew most of us away.

Imagine clicking a link for an app you don’t have, and having said native app spring open almost instantly… without actually downloading/installing it.

For example: imagine tapping your phone against an NFC parking meter. The parking meter’s app — one you never installed — instantly pops up and asks for the info it needs, then vanishes.

That’s the idea behind Instant Apps. Through Instant Apps, applications are modularized. When you click a compatible link, *ONLY* the part of the app you need in that instance (often a small fraction of the full app) is downloaded.



Google is doubling down on VR with “Daydream,” a platform and set of standards for all things VR in Android. Android N, meanwhile, will have VR support baked right in for future headsets.

Google also mentioned a “Daydream-ready” badge for smartphones that meets Google’s standards. “Daydream-ready” phones will ship from a few unnamed big manufacturers later this year.


Daydream Headsets And Controllers:

And they’re working on VR headsets! Or, at least, they’re laying the groundwork for some VR headsets.

Though they didn’t show any actual pictures of anything, Google is finalizing a reference model of a VR headset and VR controller, with intent to have multiple manufacturers building them by this fall.


Google Starts Preppin' Apps For VR:

Google is already working with Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and a bunch of others to get their apps ready for a VR-centric Android world.


Android Wear 2.0:

It’s been a while since we’ve seen an update for Android Wear, but today it got a big one: Android Wear 2.0.

The notable stuff:
– Watch face designers will be able to designate regions of their watch faces that can pipe in data from any user-selected application, sort of like Apple Watch complications
– “Smart Reply” support, borrowed from Gmail, will try to figure out how you’d respond to a message and offer it up as a one-tap reply
– It’s getting handwriting recognition for scratching quick messages into the screen
– Oh, and a full swipe keyboard!
– Automatic activity recognition: when you start running, for example, it can detect that and offer up Spotify


And Perhaps The Biggest Android Wear 2.0 Feature Of All:

Android Wear is getting full, offline applications that will work even if your phone is dead or out of range.


Chrome For Mobile Hits 1 Billion Monthly Active Users:

Nearly 1/7th of the world’s population opens Chrome for Mobile each month. Not too shabby.



18 months after acquiring Firebase, Google is going all out with it, turning it into one massive unified platform for handling everything from a free/unlimited app analytics engine to crash reports to application A/B testing to notifications.


Android Studio 2.2:

And because it wouldn’t be a developer conference without a bit of ultra-complicated compiler news: Google will release Android Studio 2.2 today. It’s faster, builds smaller apps and has a new layout designer that they swear feels “almost like designing on a sheet of paper.”