Google recently held a three-day developer festival in which it announced plenty of new and upcoming features for its many products, apps, and services. Coming a month ahead of Apple’s own developer conference, Google had some big news to share.
Though the event focused primarily on Android users, there were also a lot of very interesting developments that will impact iOS. Let’s take a quick look at the most notable.
The coolest (and scariest) announcement was that Google Assistant – Android’s answer to Siri – has been given a pretty significant upgrade. Google Duplex is a version of the smart assistant with a hyperrealistic human voice that can make real phone calls to book appointments and make orders. Think of it as the next step toward a fully-fledged robot butler who can make a hotel reservation or book a plumber for you over the phone.
The feature was tested live with real, unknowing humans on the other end of the line, and the result is as impressive as it is creepy. You can watch it here. With Siri already lagging behind in the smart assistant space, this kind of breakthrough could set a trend that Apple follows so as not to miss out. Or it could just prompt Apple to develop a new and unique use case for Siri that puts it back in the fight.
Besides that, a slew of improvements to Google’s most popular apps was unveiled – and as all of them are available on iOS, we’d expect to see these features roll out to iPhone and iPad relatively quickly, too. Google Maps, Google Photos, and Gmail all got notable upgrades.
Google Maps adds a “For You” tab including personalized recommendations for restaurants and activities, as well as some new social features to make it easier to make plans with your friends.
Google Photos is using A.I. smarts to improve your photos, including selective color changes to individual objects, and the ability to colorize black and white photographs.
Gmail will benefit from a new “Smart Compose” feature that aims to make email-writing a lot simpler by predicting what you want to say next. It’ll work a lot like the autocomplete options on the iOS QuickType bar, but with entire sentences.
Lastly, there were a lot of changes to the Android operating system that may influence Apple’s design team. In particular, Macworld’s Michael Simon thinks the Android notification system is so good, Apple should just copy it for iOS 12.