Google I/O 2016

These are my impressions of last week’s Google I/O keynote:

  • This presentation was much tighter than what I’d seen in previous I/O keynotes. I liked it.
  • Machine learning was the theme of the whole event. This is the future, as Google sees it. If they are right, they are best placed, with the possible exception of Facebook, to dominate the next round of platform wars.
  • Google Home looks awesome. I am eager to try one myself. I expect that Google can do a lot more with their natural language processing and machine learning than Amazon can.
  • As awesome as Google Home looks, I’m trying to reserve excitement. A product demo video for something that is not available yet which requires future developer integrations could run into a lot of roadblocks. Google has a history of vaporware. This time feels different, but I’m still cautious.
  • Allo doesn’t really interest me. Chat bots are all the rage among tech companies these days, but I just don’t see a use case I can get excited about yet. These bots will have to be super useful not to be thought of as this generation’s Clippy.
  • I have heard the idea floated that Allo’s use of a phone number to create an account will make it a similar service to iMessage. I don’t know how it will work, but the impression I get is that Allo will use your phone number to identify you in the same way that WhatsApp does. It will not necessarily replace SMS for its users. Consider, for example, an iOS user who cannot switch default SMS applications.
  • Not mentioned in the keynote is how easy it will be to hand over chat transcripts to governments under court order. In order for Google Assistant to do its job your entire conversation has to be available to Google’s servers in a human readable (i.e. unencrypted) state. If Google Assistant is your butler, he might not be a discrete one.
  • If Duo takes off and becomes a cross platform video chat solution that’ll be great. However, my whole extended family uses iPhones so FaceTime is an easy default for us. I anticipate that I’ll probably create an account and rarely open the app.
  • Instant Apps are a huge deal and I will probably write about them more. As a user, I am very excited about the possibilities and improved experience that could be gained by native app UI rendering. I am also dreading the fragmentation that could occur as a result. This announcement has the biggest potential, in my mind, to effect the everyday usage of the web for everyone. I’m curious to see if Apple will do something similar.

Overall, I really enjoyed the keynote. It makes me excited about the next decade of technology. It seems like Google is finding their confidence in their areas of expertise and we all could be the beneficiaries.

AI Machine Learning Google Keynote