According to Associated Press (AP), Google put the spotlight on its artificial intelligence skills by announcing new features and services imbued with machine learning at its annual developers’ conference Google I/O that kicked off on 8th of May, in Mountain View, California.
The company’s digital voice assistant, known only as the Google Assistant, is gaining new abilities – if experimental – to handle tasks such as making restaurant reservations and placing other tedious phone calls. CEO Sundar Pichai played back a phone call recording that he said was placed by the Assistant to a hair salon. The voice sounded incredibly natural; the person on the other end had no idea they were talking to a digital AI helper. Google Assistant even dropped in a super casual “mmhmmm” early in the conversation.
Pichai reiterated that this was a real call using Assistant and not some staged demo. “The amazing thing is that Assistant can actually understand the nuances of conversation,” he said. “We’ve been working on this technology for many years. It’s called Google Duplex.”
Gmail is getting a new smart autocomplete feature that uses machine learning to suggest phrases to users to finish sentences. For example, “I haven’t seen you” might be autocompleted to “I haven’t seen you in a while and I hope you’re doing well.” Users can accept the completion by hitting the tab key.
Google Photos App
The Google Photos app is getting smarter about suggesting who you might want to share photos with. Whenever it recognizes a photo of one of your Google contacts, it can suggest sharing that photo with that person. It will also convert photos of documents to PDFs and automatically add colour to black-and-white photos or make part of a colour photo into black and white. These changes are expected to come in the next two months.
Google Maps App
On its Google Maps app, the Internet giant is introducing an augmented reality feature to help guide people to their destination. When users pull up walking directions on a smartphone, they can look through their camera in Maps and get turn-by-turn directions through that while looking at the actual street.
It also wants to play up the social benefits of AI and how it’s being used to improve health care, preserve the environment and make scientific discoveries.
Pichai didn’t emphasize the privacy and data security concerns that have put companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google in the crosshairs of regulators. But he did say the company “can’t just be wide-eyed about the innovations technology creates.”
“We know the path ahead needs to be navigated carefully and deliberately,” he said. “Our core mission is to make information more useful, accessible and beneficial to all of society.”
From FOMO to JOMO
Google is one of those tech giants who cares about you and your digital well-being. It wants people to go from FOMO (fear of missing out) to JOMO (joy of missing out) in the following ways. It will understand your habits, help you focus on what matters, suggest people to switch off and wind down to find a balance for their family.
One such feature is Android Dashboard, to slice and dice data of how you are using the phone and tell people if they are overindulging on their phones. Imagine if you are binge watching YouTube for too long and it suggests taking a break.
YouTube Notification Digest
Google is also introducing a YouTube Notification digest which combines a bunch of notification to invoke users in a more optimised way to help them have a digital wellbeing.
AI comes to Google News
With news and fake news doing the rounds, Google is using AI to reimagine how we read the news. A new feature, Newscasts, has been added, which is a preview of the news story where users can slide through a news ‘card’ on the phone screen to get a digest of everything that piece of news story must offer.
Google News can now place the relationship between people, places, and news to stitch together a story to give a complete coverage from multiple sources, fact check suggestion along with a recommendation by the AI on why the coverage is being displayed to you. All this, to help you understand the full story and make information available to everyone in the same way.
Source: The Verge
Google also outlined the latest improvements to the next major version of its Android operating system called Android P. This includes smarter adaptive brightness settings and battery function.
The battery will use machine learning to learn to how consumers use apps in order to conserve energy. Phones using Android P will also learn how to adjust your screen brightness by studying the user’s manual adjustments, a change from automatic adjustments based on the ambient light levels.
The Do Not Disturb feature has been improved with the addition of another feature called “shush” mode that automatically turns on the feature if someone flips their phone face down on a table. Also, there is a ‘Wind Down Mode’ that will fade the phone screen to greyscale at a designated bedtime to help users disconnect before bed.
Google also updated actions that its Assistant can perform on smartwatches powered by its Wear OS software last week. For instance, it can tell you about your day if you’re wearing headphones instead of making you read your calendar.