This year’s edition of Google I/O, the search giant’s annual developer conference, turned the attention to the big new area of focus of the company: AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning). AI and ML was the underlying theme of the Google’s Keynote, delivered by the CEO, Sundar Pichai. The Keynote covered many awe-inspiring innovations Google is heading to.
Undoubtedly, the demonstration of Google Assistant using the company’s Duplex technology to make an actual call to an unsuspecting human was the biggest highlight of the event. Remarkably, the assistant was able to pass itself off as a human to the caller as it carried out the task of taking a salon appointment.
Google Assistant will soon make calls on behalf of users in the US. However, its capabilities will be limited to just three tasks: checking closing/holiday hours for a shop/business, booking a restaurant and a hair salon appointment. Assistant’s new prowess will raise questions about the future of this technology. Also on whether or not, we might soon have virtual assistants that sound more human-like.
While the Assistant’s voice-calling ability is still an experiment, according to Google, it was evident from the keynote that digital assistants who can carry out our daily tasks while sounding as ‘natural’ as possible aren’t just the stuff of science fiction anymore.
Android P was the other highlight of Google I/O. Android P too has a layer of AI and ML built-into it. This is driving ‘Actions’ where Android P will predict the action a user might want to carry out next. For instance, when you plug-in your headphones, the assistant could prompt your Android phone to ask you if it should open a music app like Spotify (depending on your usage habits).
Next is the Adaptive Battery. It figures out your app usage and prioritises battery for the ones which are the most used. This will help to improve efficiency and extend the smartphone’s average battery life. For achieving this, Android is partnering with DeepMind, which is an AI company owned by Google’s parent Alphabet. Android relies on a deep neural network for the Adaptive battery. It helps to predict and rank the apps based on usage.
The company will also have a new Machine Learning ML Kit for app developers. The software will work on both Android and iOS. The aim is to help developers make apps which use these ML Kit tools to aid with “text recognition, face detection, image labelling,” etc.
The other product getting a touch of AI and ML is Google News. It has been radically redesigned. Now, Google News will be the only app for news from the company. The app integrates company’s earlier Newsstand app as well. A Google representative said that Google News would rely on a “new set of AI techniques”. These will look at the flow of information, analyse it and then sort it into storylines.