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Google I/O 2018, the most anticipated conference by Google kicked off yesterday at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. Seems like it was just yesterday that Google I/O 2017 was over and we were still in awe of the new AI capabilities they announced last time but here we are, with the next annual I/O event in front of us.

On the 1st day, CEO Sundar Pichai delivered the keynote promising a 3-day gala event for over 7,200 attendees with a plethora of announcements and updates to Google products. I/O’18 will conduct 400+ extended events in 85 countries.

Artificial intelligence was a big theme throughout. Google showcased ML Kit, a SDK for adding Google’s machine learning smarts to Android and iOS apps. New features were added to Android P, Google’s most ambitious Android update. Not to mention the release of Lighthouse 3.0, new anchor tools for multiplayer AR, updates to Google assistant, Gmail, Google Maps and more. Here are our top picks from Day 1 of Google I/O 2018.

Machine Learning for Mobile Developers

Google’s newly launched ML Kit SDK, allows mobile developers to make use of Google’s machine learning expertise in the development of Android and iOS apps. This kit allows integration of mobile apps with a number of pre-built Google-provided machine learning models. These models support text recognition, face detection, barcode scanning, image labeling and landmark recognition, among other things. What stands out here is the fact that the ML Kit is available both online and offline, depending on network availability and the developer’s preference.

In the coming months, Google plans to add a smart reply API and a high-density face contour feature for the face detection API, in the list of currently available APIs.

New Augmented Reality experiences come to Android

At the Google I/O conference, Google also announced several updates to its ARCore platform focused on overcoming the limitations of existing AR-enabled smartphones.

Multi-User and shared AR

New cloud anchor tools will enable developers to create new types of collaborative experiences, which can be shared with multiple users across both Android and iOS devices.

More surfaces to play around with

Vertical Plane Detection, a new feature of ARCore, allows users to place AR objects on more surfaces, like textured walls. Another capability, Augmented Images, brings images to life just by pointing a phone at them.

Simple AR development

New ARcore updates also simplify the process of AR development for Java developers with the introduction of Sceneform. Developers can now build immersive, 3D apps, optimized for mobile without having to learn complicated APIs like OpenGL. They can use Sceneform to build AR apps from scratch as well as to add AR features to existing ones.

Android P: the most ambitious Android OS yet

The name for the new version is yet to be decided but judging by their trend of naming the OS after a dessert it may be Pumpkin Pie, Peppermint Patty, Or Popsicle? I’m voting for Popsicle! Apart from the name, here are the other major features of the new OS:

  • Jetpack: Jetpack is the next generation of the Android Support Library, redefining how developers write applications for Android. Jetpack manages tedious activities like background tasks, navigation, and lifecycle management, so developers can focus on core app development.
  • Android KTX: In the last I/O conference, Google made Kotlin language a first-class citizen for developing Android apps. Continuing on the same trend, Google announced Android KTX in I/O’18. It is a part of Jetpack that further optimizes the Kotlin developer experience across libraries, tooling, runtime, documentation, and training.
  • Android Studio 3.2: There are 20 major features in this release of Android Studio spanning from ultra-fast Android Emulator Snapshots and Sample Data in the Layout Editor, to a brand new Energy Profiler to measure battery impact of the app.
  • Material Design 2: While other Google apps like Gmail and Tasks have already gotten a recent visual update, in Android P, Google is overhauling the OS’ overall look with what people are calling Material Design 2. Google calls it Material Themes, a powerful plugin to help designers implement Material Design in their apps. This new interface is designed to be “responsive and efficient,” while feeling “cohesive” with the rest of the G Suite family of apps.
  • Adaptive Battery: Apart from refreshing the looks, Google has been busy thinking about improving performance. Google has partnered with its AI subsidiary DeepMind on a smart battery management system for Android.

Scaling IoT with Android Things 1.0

After over 100,000 SDK downloads of the Developer Preview of Android Things, Google announced the long-term release of Android Things 1.0 to developers with long-term support for production devices.

App Library, allows developers to manage APKs more easily without the need to package them together in a separate zipped bundle.

Visual storage layout helps in configuring the device storage allocated to apps and data for each build and helps in getting an overview of how much storage your apps require.

Group sharing, where product sharing has been extended to include support for Google Groups.

Updated permissions, to give developers more control over the permissions used by apps on their devices.

Developers can manage their Android Things devices via a cloud-based Android Things Console. Devices themselves can manage OS and app updates, view analytics for device health and performance, and issue test builds of the software package.

Lighthouse 3.0 for better web optimization

A new update to Lighthouse, the web optimization tool of Google, was also announced at Google I/O. Lighthouse 3.0 offers smaller waiting periods more updates to developers to efficiently optimize their websites and audit their performance. It uses Simulated throttling, with a new Lighthouse internal auditing engine, that runs audits under normal network and CPU settings, and then estimates how long the page would take to load under mobile conditions.

Lighthouse 3.0 also features a new report UI along with invocation, scoring, audit, and output changes.

Other highlights

  • Google announced the rebranding of its Google Research division to Google AI.
  • Google made a massive “continued conversation” update to Google Assistant with Google Duplex, a new technology that enables Google’s machine intelligence–powered virtual assistant, to conduct a natural conversation with a human over the phone.
  • Google has also announced the release of the third beta of Flutter. Flutter is Google’s mobile app SDK used for creating high-quality, native user experiences on mobile.
  • Google Photos get more AI-powered fixes such as B&W photo colorization, brightness correction and suggested rotations.
  • Google’s first Smart Displays, the screen-enriched smart speakers, will launch in July, powered by Google Assistant and YouTube.
  • Google Assistant is coming to Google Maps, available on iOS and Android.

There are still 2 more days left for Google I/O to conclude and going by day 1 announcements, I can’t wait to see what’s next. I am especially looking forward to knowing more about Android Auto, Google’s Tour Creator,  and Google Lens. You can view the Livestream and other sessions on the Google I/O conference page.

Keep visiting Packt Hub for more updates on Google I/O, Microsoft Build and other key tech conferences happening this month.

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Content Marketing Editor at Packt Hub. I blog about new and upcoming tech trends ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development.


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