Duplex, Android P and Assistant: Everything important from Google I/O

From Gmail that writes itself to an Assistant that may pass the Turing test, Google I/O brought us a ton of enhancements to its products, almost all due to its AI and machine learning efforts.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read

Microsoft Build 2018 started Tuesday and is still ongoing, but now Google is competing for your future attention with its own annual Google I/O developers conference. Unlike the hardware-centric announcements of last October, I/O focuses mostly on software and how to to get the most out of those devices.

Before the conference started, Google announced it had rebranded its Google Research as Google AI. That should give you some idea of its overall direction. It also announced the official version of its embedded smart operating system, Android Things 1.0.

CEO Sundar Pichai kicked things off by discussing how AI helps everyone, especially improving health care diagnoses and predictions and accessibility

Subsequent to keynote day, we heard more about Google's intentions for WearOS and the very cool-sounding Tour Creator for building VR walkthroughs, with Ricoh Theta V on board for VR capture. And Google's Cloud Anchor multiplayer AR puts the future of gaming in your hand.

We also opine about how much better Google Lens is than Google Glass and wonder if he smarter, more human-like Google Assistant just left Amazon Alexa in the dust?

Watch this: Robot or human? Google Assistant will leave you guessing

Google Assistant

Google's competitor to Amazon Echo is now 2 years old; even younger if you start counting from when the first hardware product, Google Home, became available. This year, it gets a slew of new capabilities, a lot of them coming this summer:

And now Google Assistant gets native controls for ovens, coffee makers and a whole host of smart home products.

Watch this: Android P gets smarter with a slew of AI features

Android P

Google released the developer preview of Android P in March, but a lot can change in a few months. Today we saw the official update of Android P, along with some new features:

To help drive machine-learning use in applications, Google rolled out ML Kit. You can install the beta right now. And not just on Google's phones, but on the others, too. 

The coolest things we saw at Google I/O

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Google apps

Here are the enhancements you'll be seeing in its mobile apps:

See what it's like to use Android P for yourself

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Android P will give Android gestures like the iPhone X: Google's vision of Android P is now a lot less hazy. But the company still won't tell us what the "P" stands for.

Google's Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet: Experimental technology called Duplex, rolling out soon in a limited release, makes you think you're talking to a real person.