Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference, is underway in Mountain View, California, and was kicked off with a two-hour keynote presentation showcasing many new products and innovations.
While there was plenty of developer news, Google also had lots to say about its apps, services, and devices. Here’s what you need to know:
Two Billion Android Devices
CEO Sundar Pichai said there are now more than two billion monthly active devices running Android in the world. Remember, that’s not just phones, it’s Android Wear watches, Android TVs, tablets, cars, and the new Google Home.
Google Assistant for iOS
The Assistant, Google’s answer to Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, will launch as a standalone app on Apple’s iOS. Available features include navigation, music control, smart home controls, and conversational search. It also integrates with some of the phone’s features, and can make calls, send emails, and set calendar events. The app is free and available to download now.
Google Home calls
The ability to make outgoing calls is coming to Google Home. The feature will launch in the U.S. and Canada over the next few months, and will be free to use. You can use your own mobile number, or stick with a private number assigned by Google as standard. It also works individually, and will react differently for each person speaking to Home.
Google Photos and Photobooks
Google’s excellent Photos app has been given a selection of new sharing features. These include it recognizing people in your photos and suggesting you share them with that person, plus the option of sharing complete libraries with other people. Here, it’s possible to drill down and only share photos of particular people, only those from certain dates, or just the whole collection. It’s also possible to order physical photo books through the app, with collections recommended by Google, and prices starting at $10.
Standalone VR headsets
It’s early days for this, but Google announced it’s working on a standalone virtual reality platform, which won’t require tethering to a smartphone or computer to operate. It’s not clear how this will work yet, but it’s working with HTC and Lenovo on the project, which will also feature something called WorldSense. This is taken from Google Tango, and helps position the headset and real-world objects in the virtual world.