Google I/O 2016 Highlights: Google Home Assistant, Allo Messaging App, Name Search for Android N
Follow the event live as Sundar Pichai reveals details about Google's product and platform innovation.
Following in Amazon's footsteps, Google is unveiling a smart home assistant that lets people listen to music and podcasts, as well as manage tasks such as setting alarms and compiling shopping lists, throughout their home.
Called Google Home, the Internet-connected device lets users control it with their voice to listen to music and control lights and thermostats in the home, for example.
Mario Queiroz, a vice president at Google, says the sleek, flower pot-like device also lets you ask Google about "anything you want."
Google says that unlike other home assistants, Home will work with other speakers in the house too.
In the future, Google says the device could let users control things outside of their home too.
The company has not yet named a price, but says it will be available later this year. Sounds familiar? Home echoes Amazon's Echo, a voice-controlled smart speaker.
A messaging app that incorporates Google's new voice assistant? Say "hello" to Allo.
The company unveiled the new app at its annual conference for software developers in Mountain View, California, on Wednesday. The app, available this summer on both Android and rival Apple phones, allows chatting partners to look up restaurant options and even book a table right in the app.
It also gives users an array of emoji and stickers and the option to increase or decrease the size of text to add emphasis.
Allo also gives a range of automated responses to questions and even photos, recognizing things like food and dog breeds.
In a smack at Snapchat, Allo also features an "incognito" mode that adds end-to-end encryption and allows a person to set a timer on when their chat messages disappear.
Meanwhile, the chat service Allo will use Google's computers to predict how you want to respond, saving you typing.
Google is adding a few more features to the next version of its Android operating system in an attempt to outshine Apple's iPhone.
The company is promising better graphic and battery performance. It's also adopting a security approach that lets you encrypt specific files rather than the whole phone.
Google released Android N to developers two months ago, but still hasn't specified when it will be ready for consumers. The company previously revealed that Android N will offer a split-screen feature so users can toggle between apps more easily. It also will enable users to reply directly to notifications, something iPhones already allow.
Apple's split-screen feature works only with iPad tablets, not iPhones.
Google's stepping further into the virtual world.
It announced a new platform for virtual reality called Daydream, and said manufacturers including Samsung, HTC and Huawei would have smartphones capable of handling it this fall.
The platform, included in its upcoming Android N operating system, is meant to improve upon the experience of Cardboard, which Google launched two years ago, by making virtual-reality experiences that are more comfortable, higher quality and more immersive.
Google said it had created a reference design for a headset that a partner manufacturer would have ready for the fall, and designs for a new controller that has a few buttons, a touchpad, and sensors that track its orientation and where it's pointing.
In a demonstration for some 7,000 attendees at its Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California, the Internet search giant showed how the controller could be used to flip digital pancakes, throw things, cast a virtual fishing line and fly a digital dragon.
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