Coming after last year's historic debut of Material You, this year's Google event had an air thick with anticipation–even virtually.
Starting off with probably one of the best countdowns ever, I/O 2022 kicked off with a fever dream of an AV. Smart Compose, Google Docs, Google Photos, Save Password, image searching Harry Styles’ outfit, fighting forest fires, the sheer brilliance of Google Maps, and a sneak peek at the quantum computer Google used to discover Time Crystals–snatches of services so interwoven with our lives that we’ve forgotten just how magical they are.
Among the many interventions Google pulled off last year, a commendable fact was their rapid deployment of air raid alerts when war broke out in Ukraine and the soon-to-be-rolled out Google Shield cybersecurity support for Ukrainian websites and creators to encourage accurate reporting.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
So let’s walk through it as it happened.
Automated summarization: Google looked at tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) and took it way too seriously. In what was one of the most exciting updates ever to Google Workspace, Docs will now have in-built automated summarization for new readers to quickly grasp in-doc information. As CEO Sundar Pichai mused, reviewing that 25-pager doc 5 minutes before the meeting just became a no-brainer.
Collaborate better remotely: This reflects Google’s firm and deep pivot into AI and ML, with the tl;dr feature roping in natural language processing (NLP) and Information Compression algorithms to make collaborative work more effortless than ever before. Google Chat is set to receive the update in the next few months as well, where your chat window can provide you with a helpful digest of key highlights.
Revolutionary Google Meet updates: Nobody would rejoice more than the Google Meet power users, who are all set to receive a revolutionary update that will see them using handy transcription and summarization tools to catch up on meetings they missed out on. Going even further, Google’s AI and ML embrace also makes Google Meet a more equitable platform by bringing in massive video improvements across a range of skin tones–making it possible for you to have studio quality lighting even in a dark room!
Ctrl + F the world: Typing in Search queries in a Search box got us till here, but Google has more in store. Enter, Multi-Search. The Google App can now Search a photo and probe deeper by asking questions at the same time–potentially changing the landscape of how we interact with information online forever. For instance, Google will not only show you what the fancy food that caught your eye on TV is called but also where the nearest restaurants serving it are!
Scene exploration: But Google didn’t stop at single object Searches. Scene exploration allows Google Search to look at a scene with multiple objects, grab contextual clues, and immediately give you diverse bits of information that covers what you’re observing in the scene.
And if you didn’t get it yet, pause.
This. Is. Groundbreaking.
Skin tone equity for all: On a mission to create an equitable image experience for all across their products, Google worked with Dr. Ellis Monk, a Harvard professor who invented the Monk scale. The ten-point scale makes sure people across multiple colors and skin tones will find a hue online that best represents them.
Diversity in Google Search: Drawing from the Monk Scale, Google Search will now display more diverse images–improvements for which have already started rolling out. For instance, users can filter images by the skin tone most relevant to them and see search results that make them feel included. And the best part? Google is open-sourcing this entire project at skintone.google to allow the entire industry to progress toward more diversity and inclusion from their findings.
LaMDA 2: Google’s second generation Language Model for Dialogue Applications debuted at I/O 2022 and reflects a huge paradigm shift in Conversational AI technology. In fact, one can safely say Google’s gone a step further than Apple, Microsoft, and even Amazon in this regard.
The new generative language model rests on three primary services:
1) Imagine It: Not only will LaMDa generate imaginative and creative descriptions for almost any topic or writing prompt you can think off, it will also engage in a conversation with you should you wish to probe deeper into that topic.
2) Talk About It: Talk to LaMDA about a topic. It will pick up contextual clues from you, answer more questions, and even rush to keep you on-topic if you try to switch tracks.
3) List It: Confide in LaMDA about a task you’re trying to accomplish, and it will break your request into smaller subtasks and goals for you to achieve. The suggestions can be broken down even further, building smart, crisp lists that offer multiple pathways of thinking through the task at hand for you.
PaLM: You won’t find too many reports about this but, for us, this was one of the most exciting breakthroughs in Google history. PaLM or Pathways Language Model makes answering questions a whole lot smarter with a process called chain-of-thought prompting.
Assume you show your model a question and how you arrived at its answer. Google’s PaLM will take a good long, look at that and start duplicating and modifying that logic to answer almost any other question thrown at it.
And thanks to chain-of-thought prompting, Google Translate no longer approaches translation bilingually but also monolingually–meaning it can learn and translate a language it’s never interacted with.
As a result, 24 languages spoken by 300 million people are landing on the platform, making Google more accessible and even more of a household name than ever before.
Google’s own walled garden: But Google’s big device focus this year centers around ambient computing–or computing within a web of neatly interconnected devices that talk to each other, exchange information (and clipboard details for cool inter-device copy-pastes), and essentially make technology an invisible and seamless net of support all around you.
Cybersecurity takes center-stage: This also involved multiple leaps forward in cybersecurity across every Android device platform, arguably pushing the bar higher than ever before in the industry. To walk the talk, Google is investing $10B into training cybersecurity professionals, modernizing legacy systems, and securing the software supply chain.
Bye-bye spam and phishing: As of I/O 2022, Gmail blocked more than 15 billion spam messages a day, Google Play scanned over 125 billion installed apps for malware per day, and Chrome protected 5 billion devices from risky sites. Soon, Docs, Sheets, and Slides will join in on the fun by automatically alerting you to suspicious links.
2-Factor Authentication: 2FA is useful but gets a bad rap for taking too long. Google’s latest update did away with it entirely by reducing it to a password and a tap–without compromising security. And speaking of passwords…
A future without passwords: Google confirmed multiple rumors and said it was leading an industry wide effort to enable a password-free future. Fare thee well, password managers?
In a year which saw consumers activate 1 billion new Android phones, Google has reaffirmed its commitment to making computers that adapt to people and help people choose the tech that works best for them.
As such, Android 13 builds more on the massive Material You update from last year by bringing in more security features, personalization options, and interactiveness. Google Wallet is all set to make its debut, too, with the company confirming it’ll work anywhere there is Google Pay.
The three big themes for Android 13 this year were:
But all of this makes sense only when you look at Google’s hardware announcement for the year.
And, boy oh boy, this is where the gloves come off.
PIxel 6a: Yep, it’s coming! Like all of Google’s A-series phones, the Pixel 6a features the same SoC as the previous generation’s flagship Pixel 6, including its 5G connectivity and all the AI goodness of Google’s first custom silicon: the Google Tensor. Great additions to the phone are the Live Translate feature where you can cock the device into Interpreter Mode as well as an uncompromising focus on security with state-of-the-art on-device processing. And oh! All this for $449!
Pixel Buds Pro: With all the smarts one has come to expect from Google, the Pixel Buds feature active noise cancellation that is powerful enough to create a Silent Seal to ensure outside sounds don’t leak in–even if the bud doesn’t fit your ear tip to the nanometer. It also features a 6-core chip with neural processing that keeps out all outside sounds to give you a clear call experience no matter where you are. And, before you ask, yes. Google is finally bringing spatial audio to the Pixel Buds! But the coolest feature for us would be the Buds’ ability to live-translate the speech you hear–which is truly revolutionary.
Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro: But Google didn’t just stop there. Scheduled to come out this fall, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro feature a smooth aluminum finish across the rear camera band–which is a significantly raised bump featuring a triple camera setup on the Pro. Needless to say, the phones will feature Google’s next generation Tensor chip and will ship with Android 13.
Pixel Tablet: And for the briefest of moments, Google teased an all new Pixel tablet! Scheduled to be out in 2023, the tablet will feature a version of Android entirely optimized for the tablet experience and is being designed to be “the most helpful tablet in the world.”
Pixel Watch: But the biggest showstopper this year isn’t in your pocket but on your wrist. Coming on the heels of Google’s $12B acquisition of FitBit last year, the Pixel Watch is a thing of beauty. Featuring a bold circular dome design, a tactile crown, and a freshly designed fluid WearOS experience, the Pixel Watch draws heavily from its deep integration with FitBit to take on the Apple Watch as the industry’s leading health and fitness gadget.
Wrapping the event up with a teasing look at Google’s enormous advancements in translation hard-baked into their AR-enabled smart glasses, Google turned the screw on the last of its competitors in the Big Five: Meta.
Google took on Microsoft in Search and Productivity, on Amazon in Voice and Conversational AI, on Apple with the entire Pixel line-up, and, now, Meta with this teasing look at their upcoming version of the smart glasses.
I/O 2022 has given us a lot to unpack. In an upcoming post, we will delve deeper into a few of Google’s most revolutionary announcements, explain their implications, and what they all could mean for the businesses of tomorrow.
In the meantime, if you have an idea you’d like to share, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.