Quora Question: What Were the Biggest Announcements at Google I/O?

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An attendee draws on an Android robot during the Google I/O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View, California on May 19. Stephen Lam/Reuters

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Answer from Yash Shah:

I watched the entire keynote on a live stream and was following Google I/O throughout, and here's what I think were the most significant announcements at Google I/O 2016:

Android N: The new JIT compiler. Not only does it speed up system updates but also improves app install times by a whopping 75 percent.

Multi-window support: Even though Samsung and some Xposed modules have already brought this to Android, native multi-window support is a pretty significant update.

The new update system: Similar to how Chrome handles updates. A new update, when available, will be downloaded in the background and willseamlessly update the old system image with the new one, keeping your apps and data intact. This means no more 'Android is starting' and 'Optimizing apps' dialogues after an update!

Daydream: Google's platform for creating rich VR experiences on Android devices. Google has created a basic reference design for a VR headset and remote for other manufacturers. VR will also be heavily supported in Android N, with OS-level optimizations allowing latency to drop to only 20ms for a butter-smooth performance. Also, Android N will feature a VR-based interface and also a full dedicated app market in Google Play for VR.

Google Assistant: Google Now is getting a lot smarter now with intelligent detection of contexts. For example, if you ask Google "Where is the Taj Mahal?" and after that "How old is it?," it intelligently learns the context of what you are referring to. Pretty cool, eh?

Firebase: A brand new Firebase SDK will work on Android, iOS and the web. It has got a slew of new features like Firebase crash reporting, which help to identify issues and bugs and take action on them accordingly. It should help developers see app crashes updating in real time. Also there are other tools in the SDK which help developers send specific targeted notifications to users without writing a single line of code and a remote configuration tool which helps in app testing and experimenting at scale. How cool is that?

Android Studio 2.2: A new layout editor, constraint layouts which help build UIs for multiple screens and resolutions easily. Enhanced support for C++.cmake and NDK build support apart from Gradle. Also there is test recording which will help you test your app locally or in a cloud and will give you an auto-generated signed report.

Android Instant Apps: Use an app (specific parts of it) without even installing it. Once implemented in your app, even clicking on a link pertaining to your app will download only those specific parts or modules of the app from Google Play and run them. There would also be an install option if the user wishes to install. A big, big step forward.

Android Wear 2.0: Pretty cool new features like support for cellular data, using it seamlessly even when the phone is not with you or even switched off for that matter. Introduction of standalone apps is also a really awesome addition. One can also now customize watch faces easily as Android Wear 2.0 allows you to display only the information you want on your watch face. New features also include a keyboard and smart-reply similar to what Google Inbox has to offer.

Advancements in Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and AI: If there was one thing that Google was determined to announce and show at Google I/O, it was their advancements in machine learning, AI and natural language processing. Google has open-sourced parts of its TensorFlow and Cloud Platform APIs allowing developers to access its Computer Vision APIs. Google has also made progress in the robotics field, an example of which showed us robotic arms picking up specific things without any special programmed instructions (that's the power of deep learning for you!) Google has also started building specialized hardware called Tensor Processing Units or TPUs, which was the same hardware that powered AlphaGo in its match against Lee Sedol (again, deep learning, machine learning and AI together in tandem!) They displayed their prowess and progress consistently throughout the keynote, and these three are definitely going to be the three pillars which they intend to build on.

Google Home: Google Home is just a small speaker that sits in your living room, bedroom, kitchen or just about anywhere you want it to. So what's so special about this speaker? Well, you can do pretty much everything you can do with Google Now (Google Assistant?) on the Google Home, totally hands-free! Wanna see your calendar appointments, make new ones, make reservations at places? You can literally just ask Google Home to do so. Integration with Nest will enable controlling the lights, thermostats, etc. and integration with Chromecast and Chromecast Audio will enable controlling your media devices like TVs at home, just with your voice!

Android Apps are coming to ChromeOS: After months of speculation, Google finally announced that Android Apps can now run natively on ChromeOS. The apps will run just like they would on a phone or tablet, albeit maybe with a different orientation. What's more is that Google Play Services will be making their way over to ChromeOS! This means the gigantic and ever increasing catalog of apps available for Android would also now be available for ChromeOS!

Allo: Google's newest messaging app. Its got some pretty nice features like Google Assistant integration, Snapchat-like photo inking, end-to-end encryption (in incognito mode) and WhisperShout with which you can change the font size of that particular message to make an impression. Although this looks to be a nicely built app from the first look, I really think that Google is very very late to the messaging app party, and I can't really see people switching over and adopting Allo anytime soon.

Duo: Google's latest video calling app. Some nice features include reliable performance on slower networks and some gimmicks like "Knock-Knock" which allows the receiver to see the caller or whatever the caller chooses to show, on the other side. Once again, this app too has some serious competition, I feel user-adoption for this app will be more than that of Allo.

So these, in my opinion were the most significant announcements at Google I/O 2016!

EDIT: Edited my answer to include all significant announcements from Google I/O 2016 instead of announcements just from the keynote. Also added Allo and Duo, which I originally intentionally left out as a lot of people feel that these two apps were also significant announcements.

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