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By 9 May 2018 | Categories: news

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Google I/O 2018 kicked off late last night, with the company's annual developer conference aimed at showcasing all the new software that they've been working, and can't wait to see what devs put it to use towards. It also served up our first in-depth look at Android P, which still remains officially unnamed for now. Also on show were some of the enhanced features and improvements that Google has been making to its AI Assistant, along with refinements to popular apps like Gmail and Google Maps. 

While we highly recommend watching the I/O 2018 keynote in the 10 minute long video below, should you have the data, we've compiled a roundup of the six biggest announcements on the day below for your reading pleasure as well. 

1. A closer look at Android P

As expected, much of the focus for I/O 2018 was on Android P, which is still to be given a proper moniker. The mobile operating system is available via public beta on a handful of devices from Google, Nokia and Sony, but it is subject to region specificity. 

Yes, Google has refreshed the look somewhat for Android P, but many of the significant changes are aimed at how users will interact with their devices, with the iPhone X swiping gestures serving as a reference for quite a few things, such as switching between apps. Another key change is the usual three button navigation layout at the bottom of the phone, which has been ditched for a Dashboard. 

Android P is expected to begin rolling out to compatible devices within the next couple of months, but whether it will be widely available by the year's end remains to be seen, with timely OS updates for non-Pure Android phones still one area Google needs to tackle.  

2. Better assistance

Google Assistant also got mauch of the focus at I/O 2018. In this regard, Google seems to have made significant improvements to the choice of voice. The original voice, named Holly, will still be available, but will be joined by other options, including a rather curious variant of John Legend. 

The AI assistant will also be making the jump to more devices during the course of the year. For the most part Google Assistant has been resigned to smart speakers, but now Google will be porting the Assistant to Smart Displays, which could mean that the company will have a Amazon Echo Show competitor soon.

3. Google Duplex

This is less of an announcement and more of a demo. Aiming to showcase just how powerful their AI is becoming, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed an audio recording where Google Assistant called a salon in order to make an appointment. 

Had we not known better, the conversation between Google Assistant and the salon employee sounded just like an interaction between two humans. The voice of Google Assistant didn't sound robotic at all, and it appears as if the salon employee was unaware that they were talking to AI. 

4. Gmail predictive emails

Sticking with the AI trend, Google is putting it to use in the new-look Gmail. To that end, the company played a demo of Gmail helping to construct an email. It works like a supercharged version of the predictive text feature we have on smartphones, but instead of one or two words, could predict entire sentences. 

As such, over more time, Google believes that its AI-aided Smart Compose feature could in fact construct a coherent email sans human. 

5. Enriching Google Maps

One of Google's key applications, Google Maps was shown sporting a few new tricks. One aspect is to enhance the social capabilities of the app, with users capable of following specific neighbourhoods in order to see what's new in the area, or how others experiences have been.

Another tool on display was Augmented Reality navigation. To that end, users could use their Google Maps app while walking to a specific destination, and holding the camera front on, can see AR arrows pointing in the direction they need to head in, or turn they have to make. With walking navigation of Google Maps a little confusing at times, this feature could prove very useful.    

6. AI curated Google News

Google is overhauling is News app, with AI viewed as the ultimate curator. They say that the app will analyse every piece of news (written, video, infographic) placed online at any moment, and place them into a Flipboard-esque feed for users to swipe through. Added to this, Google says the revamped News will try to provide a variety of different perspectives on a given topic, which should hopefully allows users to get a less biased view on a particular subject. 

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What new tech or developments are you most anticipating this year?
New smartphone announcements (8 votes)
Technological breakthroughs (11 votes)
Launch of new consoles, or notebooks (8 votes)
Innovative Artificial Intelligence solutions (7 votes)
Biotechnology or medical advancements (13 votes)
Better business applications (4 votes)