Google I/O 2016 day 1 is done and dusted. We take a look at the top 5 biggest announcements made yesterday

Google’s yearly show-and-tell I/O event kicked off yesterday and was met with great success. Google displayed its vision for a more ubiquitous and conversational way of interacting with technology, focussing on virtual reality and assistants. We take a look at the top 5 biggest announcements at this year’s Google I/O development conference.
Read: Top 5: Google IO Predictions


If you have been living under a rock you might not know that virtual reality is all the rage currently. Google kicked off its VR journey with a very small, but significant step – Cardboard. The inexpensive DIY virtual reality device brought VR into the homes of those who couldn’t afford high priced VR gadgets. Now Google has Daydream. Ultimately, the name will encompass everything Google does in VR, but right now it means two things: a hardware standard for high-end smartphones, and a VR mode that‘s built right into Android N. Google will be partnering with multiple companies to build headsets that use their VR tech. We will see more VR in phones, headsets and software later this year.


Who doesn’t need another chat app? At its core, Allo is a chat app with stickers and cool interface tricks. The application is true to Android’s origins- allowing users to customise. An example is Allo’s ability to make your message bigger or smaller to indicate excitement (or lack thereof). What’s really exciting is that behind Allo’s skin lies some nifty predictive software thanks to Google‘s work in artificial intelligence. Google also stressed the privacy aspects to Allo. All messages in Allo are encrypted, but Allo also has an incognito mode, encrypting messages end-to-end. It also has private notifications and expiring messages.
Read: Google unveils Duo and Allo, its new chat apps

Android N

Probably the announcement everyone was waiting for. The next version of Google‘s mobile OS is almost done, and there is an amazing array of new features. New features include more control over notification size from different apps and a new picture-in-picture mode. N could also be a better platform for gaming thanks to a battery of optimizations and a new API called Vulkan that lets developers directly control a phone‘s GPU for sharper 3D graphics. Google has also promised that it will be the safest OS yet. N will launch around the beginning of Q3, but there‘s a beta available now for new Nexus devices.


Ah the internet of things. Still waiting for enough bucks to buy that fridge that alerts me when the milk is low! Google announced its new smart home ecosystem “Home”. The small piece of hardware is a wireless speaker with a built-in voice-powered assistant. The Home is VERY similar to Amazon’s Echo, complete with third-party partners for music, podcasts, news, ordering dinner, hailing a car, and making restaurant reservations (probably features that won’t be available in SA at launch). The Home is available in a number of different shells to match your decor. Unlike the Echo, it‘s designed to be used with multiple devices in multiple rooms, so you can ask a single query and not have to worry about three different devices answering back.
Read: Google Home is your new control centre


Another hot topic currently is that of virtual assistants. Google has had the app-based OK-Google feature for some time now so its good to see something new. Google announced an improved AI-powered assistant that better understands voice commands. You can chat with it via text messages too! The tasked based system allows users to buy concert or movie tickets, call an Uber, or make an restaurant reservation. It powers Google Home, and it‘ll be in your Android phone soon (again we will have to test it hands on to see how effective the Assistant will be in South Africa).
All in all a very successful conference for Google. Were you excited or disappointed in the announcements made at Google I/O yesterday? Have your say in the comments section below!