Everyone in the business community was waiting for Google I/O 2016 with bated breath. We knew something big was coming, but probably none expected it to be this huge. So huge, in fact, that it can be considered the best conference in years, up there with the 2013 historical speech by Larry Page.
Daydream, Home, Allo, Duo, Instant Apps: as expected, at this year’s edition the giant from Mountain View has displayed its vision for a more ubiquitous way of interacting with mobile technology. You can now say goodbye permanently to the idea of Google as a search engine.
You may be already familiar with Think With Google, where the company collects all researches about the advancements in technology, society, and customer experience. Year after year, the insights originated from the research-hub have profoundly changed Google’s business approach.
As an example of this strong bond between marketing and technology, take the emergence of Micro Moments. The smartphone has completely changed the way we communicate and look for information. We do not research online in unique, continuous sessions anymore. This was a dated desktop computer driven approach.
Today, roughly 60 percent of searches on Google now arrive from mobile devices. With the mobile devices in our hands, we are constantly connected. We live online; we do not simply go online. This shift has brought us to a major change in how we search for information:
“What used to be our predictable, daily sessions online have been replaced by many fragmented interactions that now occur instantaneously. There are hundreds of these moments every day - checking the time, texting a spouse, chatting with friends on social media.” (Google)
We turn to our mobile devices at the exact moment that we need it, in a continuous series of instant sessions. These are the Micro Moments, a completely different customer behavior. As a business, you must acknowledge this evolution and learn how to engage and monetize customers in this brand new ecosystem.
The 2015 mobile-friendly algorithm, developed by Google for its search engine, was the obvious sign of what was going to happen. Well, if you look at the announcements at the 2016 Google I/O you recognize even more traces of this transformation.
At this year’s I/O conference, we have heard lots of numbers about the ever-growing Big G’s ecosystem. Numbers that help you understand where Google is headed to. We have reached:
- 1 billion Chrome active monthly users from mobile;
- 25 million Chromecasts sold;
- 200 million active monthly users on Google Photo;
- 600 Android smartphones launched this year alone;
- 65 billion apps downloaded from Google Play;
- 50 million apps for Cardboard downloaded.
These numbers narrate a story that involves technology, business, and society. That’s the reason why Google I/O, born and raised as a conference for developers, has officially opened the doors to the broader audience, with more mainstream announcements taking center stage.
During the 2015 I/O edition, we have witnessed the arrival of Android M, Google Now On Tap, Jump and Project Brillo. What about this year’s edition? In case you missed the keynote, here is a recap of the key announcements. Write them down for future reference.
After M there it comes N. The next version of Google’s mobile OS is almost done and has been nicknamed N. Some features were already announced, some come as great news:
Software updates will happen seamlessly in the background; a new notification dropdown with in-line reply; the Vulcan 3D graphics to improve gaming; an improved security; last but not least, a built-in solution for multi-tasking, to run multiple apps split-screen.
Google is betting on virtual reality, raising last year’s bid (the Jump project) with Daydream, a platform that will set the standards for all things VR in Android.
The first expressions of this new enthusiasm will be a hardware for high-end smartphones and a virtual reality mode for the next versions of Android. Soon, however, we will see headsets and tools produced by Google with different partners.
Android already has a personal assistant. We know it by the name of Google Now. Google Assistant is the direct evolution of that concept, a voice interface powered by artificial intelligence that will better understand what you are saying and (increasingly) why you are saying it.
The Assistant is meant to be contextual and task-based; it works both with voice or text messages, and will be fully built in Home and the future smartphones.
Amazon is gaining momentum with the Echo project. Why Google should not run the same race and dip into the future of smart home? That’s where Home comes from, a nice piece of design that looks like Echo because it is - right now, at least - exactly like Echo.
Hardware with a built-in voice assistant (see Google Assistant) and enhanced by third parties for music, news, and basically everything ranging from calling a taxi to reserve your table at the restaurant.
Allo is the first mobile app announced this year. At first glance, it may seem nothing more than the umpteenth attempt to unthrone Whatsapp. It is, indeed, but Allo is also something more.
Behind a nice interface and cool stickers, we find a powerful experiment with artificial intelligence and predictive analysis. The app will learn from your usage and try to predict your answers, offering one-click suggestions. Cool, isn’t it?
If you think that Allo is an obscure project, wait until you see Duo, the weirdest thing presented by Google at 2016 I/O. Duo is, essentially, a video calling app. Nothing more than Hangout, someone has said.
Well, actually there is something more: When a call is coming in, you can get a preview of what is happening on the other side in a little window. It’s up to you to decide if this feature is enough to justify a new app.
No doubt that the highlight of the conference was the announcement of Android Instant Apps. The number of available apps in the Google Play Store was recently placed at 2 million. How can you create a great experience without forcing customers to download an app for every single little activity?
Loading only the app components that fit a specific need in a specific moment. This is Instant Apps, a system that will allow your phone to load only the pieces of the app required to get that action, and then asking you if you want to install the entire version with a tap. Fully connected to Android Pay, Instant Apps could rewrite the future of the retail shopping experience.
ANDROID WEAR 2.0
The launch of Android Wear 2.0 is the proof that Android is rapidly evolving into something more comprehensive than just an operating system for smartphones. The new Android for smartwatches is not only easier and nicer but also smarter.
You will be able to use smart replies for messaging, and plug the apps into Google Fit to track your activity without a smartphone. In fact, the new Wear 2.0, that we will see next Fall, marks the liberation of the watch from the phone.
Which Google I/O 2016 announcement excites you the most?
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