I attended Day 1 of Google I/O and was blown away by all the cool innovations that have happened over the last year. Each year at I/O, Google presents a mission. Last year, Google changed their mission from “Mobile First” to “AI First.” They announced their focus on using AI to power and provide insights for their technologies so they could provide the very best experiences for their users. During the opening keynote this year, they gave us the results of their actions.
AI is making the lives of Google users easier by simplifying and predicting their actions to improve their experiences. The mission this year is to make information more useful, accessible, and available to society through the use of AI.
“Making good things together”
Over 7000 people are expected to attend Google I/O 2018 this year, where the mission is to “Make good things together.” The 2018 pre-keynote started out with two ways that Google has done this, namely NSynth and WorldDraw.
AI is making the lives of Google users easier by simplifying and predicting their actions to improve their experiences.
I recall a session last year which showed us how machine learning is used to recreate the sound of instruments and then combine two different instruments to create a new sound. Not a blending of the two sounds—a new sound, like a bass piano. This year they are using that technology to actually create some pretty amazing music.
There was also a session last year around training machines by drawing pictures of words so they could understand images. Now, just a year later, we have WorldDraw, which lets you draw pictures, convert them into a 3D image in a virtual world, and then share them with everyone. It is amazing to see how fast machine learning has advanced in the last year and how it is being used to create instead of just teach.
During the keynotes we learned about all the different ways Google has improved their products with AI. Google Assistant is booking appointments using Wavenet to have more natural conversations. Gmail is predicting and suggesting phrases for your emails with Smart Compose. And Waymo has launched their driver-less car service in Phoenix. All of these developments indicate that the focus on AI hasn’t been without purpose—every time AI has been added to part of Google’s services, the goal has been to provide a better user experience.
It’s all about the user
While all these advancements are amazing, Google recognizes that they have a responsibility to improve, not hurt, the lives of their users. A big focus of the Google I/O 2018 is Digital Wellbeing. Google wants to change FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to JOMO (Joy of Missing Out), finally addressing some of the pressure users sometimes feel when making choices about what to buy, download, and use.
That’s pretty cool.
In addition, Google has added functionality to their apps and Android operating systems to help users better understand their technology usage so they can develop healthy habits (did you know that 68% of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up?).
It’s not just for adults, but for kids too. Google is concerned that kids are learning to be bossy and demanding while using Google Assistant. So they created an app called Pretty Please to teach manners. They also created Family Link to help manage children’s screen time and provide a safe space to explore the internet. All of these are excellent ways to take responsibility for creating healthier relationships with the technology in our lives.
Sessions this year will cover a range of topics from Accessibility for AR and VR, Immersive Learning, Web Performance, to How to Use Tech to Change the World. With all of these advancements and innovations, we do well to remember that in the end the focus isn’t on the technology, but rather how we can use that technology to provide a better experience for our users.
Ultimately, our goal should be helping users find their answers easier and faster.