This year’s Google I/O conference, the Google I/O 6, left attendees and experts reeling from the number of announcements and upcoming changes that Google plans to launch. I/O stands for “input/output” or “Innovation in the Open”. It is the annual developer-focused conference held by Google in San Francisco, California.
To make its services much more appreciated by users, Google is not only looking to add new features but is also stopping or removing certain features all together. More importantly, this year’s Google I/O showed that Google is looking for ultimate web dominance as it plans to launch web applications that rival those of Spotify, Flickr, GroupMe, etc.
The fact that Google co-founder, Larry Page, decided to give a speech and answer questions from the audience makes this Google I/O conference even more remarkable, largely because of his withdrawn status from the public due to issues with his vocal cords. Of all the planned features, changes and applications that Google has promised, here are a few that are noteworthy.
We’ve particularly focused on highlights relevant to us here in Malaysia.
Google+ Upgraded Design
Vic Gundotra – the mastermind behind Google+ revealed Google+’s completely redesigned look at the event. 41 new features have been added to the social network. Images are now the focus of this social network, just like in Facebook and the site now includes bigger pictures with hashtags. Pictures are now displayed in columns and can be tagged with hashtags. The auto-tagging feature can identify famous landmarks and tag the photos automatically.
Auto Awesome is a new feature that lets users create animated .gif images with their photos. Auto Backup is another new photo feature that backs-up images in a unified cloud storage space. Gmail, Google+ and Google Drive data will all be backed up in one single 15GB space. Of all the photos taken by users, the new Highlight feature picks out the best ones to display first in an album. Enhance is another new feature that enhances and corrects photos that have been uploaded.
Status in Malaysia: Yes, the new Google+ design is working in Malaysia
Google’s New Music Service
Just when we were cheering the introduction of Spotify in Malaysia, Google’s announcement of a new music app has come to steal the thunder. At Google I/O, the search engine giant unveiled the Google Play Music All Access service – its answer to Spotify. c
Users with valid Google accounts can sign-up for this musi service – which is a paid subscription service, and it will be integrated with all other Google services. The All Access music service has an edge over other similar products by other companies as it can integrate with Google services much better than third-party applications. However, other similar apps are compatible with many platforms.
Users can listen to complete tracks, play Internet radio and store songs using only their Google accounts. This service has been launched in the U.S and subscriptions cost $9.99 per month with a 30 day free trial period.
Status in Malaysia: Google has promised that this service will be launched in other countries very soon, and we have to wait and see if Google’s music app will compete with Spotify in Malaysia.
Read More: Spotify Launched in Malaysia
Stunning New Google Maps
Google Maps has no rival as Apple’s map application was laughed off by users and experts alike. This has not stopped Google from improving its Map service and the new Google Maps was revealed at the conference.
The new Map service improves and identifies user interests better as users use this app over a period of time. It means that the more it is being used, the better it gets at judging what the user wants. Google Earth and Google Street View have been integrated with the new Google Maps. The new Map application is filled with amazing Google images and pictures taken and submitted by users.
Users can now find directions and best routes between two points and change the route based on traffic. In fact, although the best route is shown by default, users can choose direction based on if they want to travel by car, bike, public transport or on foot. Google Maps will even display the best bus routes and number of changes needed to get to the destination. Each map can be customized by the user, and the application will show recommendations from friends and those based on user preferences. These are just some of the new features of the latest Google Maps.
Status in Malaysia: Users need to sign into Google Maps with their Google accounts; however, currently, users can only ask for invites to the application and Google will respond to invite requests with further information.
Personal Assistant – Voice commands
Google has announced that it is going to launch its own intelligent personal assistant similar to Apple’s Siri. Users can give voice commands to their mobile devices or desktops and a results page will be displayed by the Google assistant app. Siri continues to be criticized due to its bad search results and this is where Google’s assistant app will perform better. Using the Google search engine, the assistant app has the potential of beating Siri.
Status in Malaysia: Not yet launched – anywhere.
Vic Gundotra revealed the mother-of-all chat applications – Hangouts, at the Google I/O this year. This new Google application combines Google Talk, Google+ , voice chat and the hangouts feature of Google into one chat service. Users can now chat, talk, have video conversations, share albums, etc. with another user or a group of users. This standalone chat application is now available for web, iOS and Android users and it is free. This could be a major concern for other chat services like Skype, Whatsapp and GroupMe.
Contacts will be ranked based on how often a user chats or talks to that contact and all the conversations, photos and videos will be stored so that users can retrieve them and delete them from the app at any time.
Status in Malaysia: Yes, you can download this app for free in Malaysia.
Other buzz-worthy announcements made at Google I/O this year include the launch of the unlocked Google edition of the Samsung Galaxy 4 device. However, this device is far more expensive than the normal model of the phone but it will receive system updates immediately when the Android platform is updated. Google has also announced that it will be launching Google Play for Education. This is a program that will focus on developing applications and devices for classrooms and educators.
What do you think about these announcements by Google?
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