Google I/O 2016 is in the books (for the most part). The annual developers conference came with modified fanfare, but some new good and bad announcements. Overall, I’m not going to say I’m totally “wowed” by the new prospects. I’m also not rushing out to buy any of the new products — I own a Nexus Player and I hate the device.
Chrome and Android Unite!
My favorite announcement, and perhaps the most meaningful for lawyers, is that Chrome OS is now able to run Android apps straight from Google Play.
I love my Chromebook, but there are some admitted drawbacks to a platform that can’t run standalone programs. Being able to run some of the more powerful Android apps — think Microsoft Word, as opposed to Google Docs — in particular situations will give users a lot more functionality.
The update won’t be available until the Fall, so don’t get overly anxious about the fact your Chromebook isn’t running the apps.
Yet another messaging and video app…er, apps
I’m absolutely convinced that Google’s designers thought, “Gosh, folks don’t use Hangouts because they’re using FaceTime and iMessage. Let’s design two more apps to compete.” And so they did. Welcome Allo and Duo — yet two more stupid names. Personally, I’m a fan of Hangouts — although I’ll dabble with Allo and Duo — so I’ll probably stick with that. Plus, I’ve already taught the grandparents how to create a Hangout with the grandkids, so I’ll be damned if I trash all of that hard work.
Allo is Google’s new messaging app — let’s not even talk about the fact that Hangouts and Messenger (which I love) are already available in Google Play. Let’s also not talk about the fact that both programs are very good.
The main draw of Allo is that it follows you via your phone number, similar to iMessage. Thus, the conversations you have on one phone will remain on another phone, as long as you keep your number. Allo will also integrate many of the features the kids like, such as drawing, funny face stickers, and easy text resizing. For the general public, or those who aren’t Millennials, you’ll probably get annoyed when someone uses these features in your conversation.
On the other spectrum, we have Duo. This is Google’s answer to FaceTime.
Look for Allo and Duo in the Fall.
Android Instant Apps
This. Sounds. Awesome. This new feature will allow you to download only the bare essentials of an application, thus leaving you more space for all those selfies. I’m not entirely sure how this will function, but basically, Google seems to suggests instances where you click a link and need to download the app.
I’ve tried Amazon Echo and don’t really see the appeal. Aside from having a big speaker to play tunes, I’m at a loss for other uses. Oh sure, I guess it’s be nice to say, “Ok Google, who was the first person to walk on the moon,” and get a lovely response. But aside from that, what else do I do?
Google thinks you’ll go a long way with Google Home. In fact, it’s so confident that you’ll love the device, it’s homepage says absolutely nothing about the product.
Fortunately, there’s YouTube, if you missed the I/O demo.
I’m still wondering whether Google Home has connectivity to all devices — a la, “text Louise” — or whether it’s device specific.
Google Home will be available in the Fall.
Integrated into Google Home is Google’s new assistant; smartly named, Google Assistant. (It’s actually just a modified, expanded, and overhauled version of Voice Search.) The best way to describe this is as “giving each user their own individual Google.”
Some of Google Assistant is already functioning in many parts of the Android/Google structure. Google Assistant will roll out beginning in Junish.
Despite these new prospects, I’m underwhelmed with many others. For instance, Android Auto is getting an expansion, but it’s already limited available only gives me a remote excitement. Similarly, Android Wear 2.0 is coming soon, but I’ve abandoned my Wear watches.
The inconsistent application and struggles I’ve seen with many of Google’s products makes me ever less excited. Plus, like many in the world, I’ve been assigned a “smartphone” from my employer that isn’t very “smart” (up to date) because of my wireless carrier’s restrictions. Since that’s the case, a lot of product features are “new OS” restricted, meaning I can’t see squat. Was there, or is there, any new product or feature you’re absolutely excited to see?