Wireless Technologies

Google I/O: War on all fronts

This week’s Google I/O conference showed off a host of new idea and products. Event after its Alphabet reshuffle, Google is still a monolith of different ideas in different areas, separate yet also very connected. With the new announcements, it’s also adding an ever-increasing number of competitors into its line of sight.

The Virtual Assistant

Google Now has been given a boost. Google Assistant is far more chatty and intelligent, something more akin to the likes of Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana, SoundHound’s Hound, and Facebook's M. It’s also being baked into a lot the company’s other offerings.

Social & messaging

Despite previous failures, Sundar Pichai & Co. still won’t give up on messaging and social. This week saw not one, but three apps: the kind-of-Pinterest-like group-sharing app Spaces, the fairly standard messaging app Allo (albeit with bot capabilities built in), and the FaceTime-esque Duo.   


Google’s virtual assistant push wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t invade your home. The Google Home device draws obvious comparisons with Amazon’s Alexa; an always-listening speaker that controls your home, obeys commands and answers your questions. Compatibility with the rest of the Google ecosystem could potentially give it the edge of Alexa, but the developer API isn’t open yet. Amazon do have a decent, 3 million-odd-sized head start in adoption rates however.


While Google-branded Virtual Reality headsets were largely a no-show (except for a reference design for product it may or may not make in the future), Google did launch a whole mobile VR platform. Daydream is essentially a VR mode for Android, designed to improve the experience and go above and beyond what could be done on Cardboard. Oculus and HTC might be safe for now, but will people want to splash out if their phones do just as good a job?


As well as some upgrades to Android Auto, Waze this week launched a carpooling service, putting it in competition with offerings from Uber, Lyft, Via, and others. A precursor to on-demand driverless cars on a large scale, perhaps?


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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