Google revealed a few neat tricks at its annual developer conference earlier today, leaning heavily on themes of artificial intelligence and well-being. In other words, technology that can do stuff for you automatically and that won’t make you feel gross and addicted to your phone. Here’s what the company announced.
Google can now edit and tweak old photos automatically using an AI database powered by billions of images online. That means the stuff you add to Google Photos can be automatically cropped, rotated, color-corrected, have their brightness adjusted, and so on. And for black-and-white photos, Google can now colorize them, though your mileage may vary.
The Assistant software that powers Android phones and the Google Home speaker is also getting some upgrades. You can now have a “continued conversation” with your device, making multiple requests rather than saying the activation phrase in front of every single command. A seemingly minor tweak that will make using the device a lot less stilted. It also probably means that the Assistant will continue listening for just a little bit longer after you make your queries.
Your Assistant can book appointments for you
Ushering in a cyberutopia or cyberhell, the Google Assistant is now capable of calling a local business’s phone number and talking on the phone like a human being, booking appointments for you in the background.
Just like Amazon has its own Alexa devices with screens, it was only a matter of time until Google did something similar. With smart displays, you can ask Google to pull up photos or YouTube videos, or make a video call, or have it show you a recipe you’re cooking. The devices will not be made by Google, but by third parties like LG and Sony.
There are a few new tweaks in Android P, the next version of Google’s smartphone operating system. For instance, turning your phone screen-side-down can now automatically enable the “do not disturb” mode, and the phone can be set to automatically go gray scale as bedtime approaches. Users will also be able to set time limits on their apps.
Your camera makes navigation easier
Instead of walking a few paces and checking which way the blue dot moves on Google Maps, you’ll soon be able to use your camera in combination with Street View data to figure out which way you need to go. Google will even place augmented-reality arrows on the screen to help you figure it out, and it’s been experimenting with a cutesy fox mascot to help you find your way.
Google News gets a redesign
Google News is getting a redesign powered by AI (sure) to help inform users. A feature called “Full Coverage” will display “top headlines from different sources, videos, local news reports, FAQs, social commentary, and a timeline for stories that have played out over time.” A similar feature called “Newscasts” is akin to Twitter moments or a Snapchat Story.