Google kicked off Google I/O detailing Google Assistant, a new personal AI for users. It lets users ask queries much as they would in the search engine, but in a Siri-like set-up.
GA is a kind of revamped version of Google Now that can also work within other apps and has been described as “building an individual Google for each user”. More details here.
Google Home is the central hub for connecting Google Assistant with your connected home, smart devices and more. It will be available in fall.
Android Instant Apps
Android Instant Apps are a neat new way of allowing people to access app content without actually having the app installed. So, if someone sends you a link to something that could be viewed in an app you don’t have installed, Android will temporarily download just the particular modules of the app required to display that content.
Google Allo and Google Duo
Google Allo is a new telephone number-based messaging app from Google that includes a few nifty new features, like being able to slide the “send” arrow up or down to “shout” or “whisper” your reply and predictive responses. Allo also features end-to-end encryption, incognito chats, private notifications and expiring chats and will be the “first home for Google Assistant”. Google Duo is a companion video chat app that allows you to see the person calling you – in a live video preview – before you even answer the call. More details here.
Android N beta release
The beta release of the developer preview was announced. The Android N update schedule states that the previews will receive monthly updates until July, when the finishing touches will be put on it for release in Q3, 2016 (that means by the end of September).
Virtual reality and “Daydream VR”
Daydream VR is Google’s vision for an affordable mobile virtual reality platform. Previously rumoured under the name “Android VR”, Daydream VR will not only provide an Android home base for mobile VR apps, it also has a “reference design” for a headset and controller and minimum spec list for “Daydream-ready” devices.
Android apps on Chrome OS
Android apps are officially coming to Chrome OS, adding a million new apps for Chrome OS users and a massive new audience for Android developers.
Android N will natively support Project Tango devices and the array of additional sensors they bring. Two-thirds of the Project Tango apps in Google Play are already games, so you had better believe AR gaming is going to explode in the second half of 2016.
A fully functional Project Ara prototype get assembled on stage in seconds. This year it got even better, with a camera module added, runtime detected and ready to shoot photos in seconds – even faster than last year.
But the real kicker came when it was time to remove a module. A simple “Okay Google, eject camera module” was all it took to have the camera module pop off the back of the Project Ara frame. The developer edition of the Project Ara phone will be out in Q4, 2016 and the project is reportedly still on schedule for a full release in 2017. More details here.
Android Wear 2.0
Android Wear was long overdue for a shake-up and Google I/O didn’t disappoint, with Android Wear 2.0 being announced. The biggest feature of Android Wear 2.0 is support for standalone apps, meaning you will no longer need to have a smartphone paired to your wearable.
Firebase and Android Studio 2.2
No Google I/O would be complete without some specific announcements just for developers. At I/O 16, these announcements revolved around updates to Firebase and Android Studio. Android Studio 2.2 offers a new layout designer, complete with “constraint layouts” so your app interface will automatically resize itself for different screen sizes. Google also announced a massive update to the Firebase app development platform. (GCM to FCM)
New Mobile Analytics
After acquiring Firebase in 2014, Google have relaunched it as a developer platform. This newly-expanded Firebase platform includes tools to help developers improve the quality of their apps, attract new users, and monetise their work.
Firebase also features a mobile analytics tool, which Google rebuilt from the ground up. The Firebase Analytics tool provides similar functionality as Google Analytics, but is designed specifically to meet the needs of mobile app developers.
Android Auto had a slightly weird presence at Google I/O 2016, turning from a dedicated automotive product into a regular smartphone app. The move makes sense: not everyone can afford an Android Auto-equipped vehicle or stereo head unit, so providing the same functionality via an app brings the platform to everyone.