Google I/O 2016: 7 announcements you NEED to know

Google I/O 2016 was ridiculous. At times it looked, and sounded, more like a music festival than a developers’ conference. But once Google CEO Sundar Pichai took the stage there was no mistaking what this event was all about. Google has been very busy, and Pichai made sure we all knew about it. He used his 120-minute keynote to the maximum, covering Google Home, Allo, Android N, Wear 2.0, Assistant and Android Instant Apps, to name just a few.

Here are the seven most important announcements from Google I/O 2016.

Google I/O 2016: What was announced?

1. Google Assistant

As far as we can tell it’s OK Google but “a step further”.

For example, you can continue your line of questioning when talking to Google. The example Sundar Pichai used was “who directed The Revenant?” to which Google showed “Alejandro González Iñárritu”; Pichai then followed up with “show me his awards”… you get the picture.

2. Google Home

OK, this looks class. Think of this as the Google hub for your home, complete with a speaker and built-in microphone.

It can play your music, answer your questions, add events to your calendar, control your Chromecast. Essentially it’s a voice-controlled gateway to Google, for your living room, bedroom, bathroom, wherever.

We have no idea how responsive it is or what its sound quality is like, or its price for that matter, but it looks great. Oh, and it can link up with other Google Home devices to play your audio in every room. I want one of these!

It’s going to be available to buy later this year (I think). See our Google Home brings Google Assistant right into the heart of your home article for more information.

Google IO 2016 - Google Home

3. Google Allo

Right, things have gone a bit weird here. Google has launched a “smart” chat app. They’ve called it Allo. Not sure why. The idea seems to be WhatsApp, but with a hint Google Assistant, MySpace and Microsoft Paint thrown in.

Oh, this is interesting, Allo has one more killer feature. There’s an incognito mode. You can send messages and pictures (presumably) with E2E encryption, and set your own expiry date on a text (think Snapchat). You can even toggle how notifications appear on your phone, if at all. Perfect for say, organising a surprise party without your loved ones knowing… or sexting.

Google IO 2016 - Allo

4. Android N

Lots of technical announcements. None of which I managed to catch with any confidence to report on. In short, a lot of work has gone into making Android N’s game performance better and the general OS reliability, er, more reliable.

Also, improvements to JIT also mean that when booting your phone after an update, you won’t have to wait for Android to verify every single app you have before diving in to explore your new OS.

5. Android VR + Daydream

Android VR has been confirmed, but Google is calling it Daydream just to be difficult. Daydream isn’t a piece of Google-made VR hardware, but is instead a new platform for VR built right into the heart of Android N. It’s all about making mobile VR the best it can be and building a suite of devices that really bring out the best of virtual reality no matter what device you’re using.

As you can imagine, making VR work on a mobile phone means you won’t be able to run this on just any phone you like. Currently, Google has confirmed partnerships with the likes of Samsung, HTC, Asus and Huawei, and it looks as if the first wave of Android N flagship phones should be able to utilise Daydream tech. It’s not a simple process to become Daydream-approved, with Google putting stringent guidelines in place to ensure that every phone running Daydream is capable of hitting the minimum specifications needed for a comfortable and immersive VR experience


Read more about Android VR and Daydream here.

6. Android Wear 2.0

This feels a bit like when jockeys whip their (knackered) horse as it approaches the finishing post. Now it’s Android Wear’s turn to get a jolt.

This biggest news is that Android Wear 2.0 will have the potential to display any type of information from any app (this was met with lukewarm applause from the audience). There’s also increased control for Android Wear, and users can control apps such as Strava and Spotify right from their watches, without any need to touch their phones (this also met with lukewarm applause from the audience). 

Android Wear 2.0 will be a free update.

Google IO Android Wear 2

7. Android Instant Apps

Now this looks great!

You can use apps instantly. Yep, without downloading them. It works by only downloading the bits of information from the app you need.

The on-stage example used was a video from Tasty on the Buzzfeed Videos app. A click on the link transported the phone to Android Instant Apps, where the only information pulled in from the app was the page titles, branding and the video itself. Genius.

Wait, there’s more. It’s backwards-compatible all the way back to Android Jelly Bean. That’s amazing. 

Google I/O 2016 video: as it happened

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