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Have A Look At What The Future Has in Store From The Google I/O 2018 keynote (in 14 minutes)

The Google I/O 2018 keynote had a bunch of major announcements about Android P, Google Assistant, and more. Here’s the most important news to know…

 

Smart Compose in Gmail

This is a nifty new feature in Gmail that uses machine learning to not just predict words users plan to type, but entire phrases. And we’re not just talking about simple predictions like addresses, but entire phrases that are suggested based on context and user history. The feature will roll out to users in the next month.

Google Photos AI features

Google Photos is getting a ton of new features based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. For example, Google Photos can take an old restored black and white photo and not just convert it to color, but convert it to realistic color and touch it up in the process.

Google Assistant voices

The original Google Assistant voice was named Holly, and it was based on actual recordings. Moving forward, Google Assistant will get six new voices… including John Legend! Google is using WaveNet to make voices more realistic, and it hopes to ultimately perfect all accents and languages around the world. Google Assistant will support 30 different languages by the end of 2018.

Natural conversation

Google is making a ton of upgrades to Google Assistant revolving around natural conversation. For one, conversations can continue following an initial wake command (“Hey Google”). The new feature is called continued conversation and it’ll be available in the coming weeks.

Multiple Actions support is coming to Google Assistant as well, allowing Google Assistant to handle multiple commands at one time.

Another new feature called “Pretty Please” will help young children learn politeness by responding with positive reinforcement when children say please. The feature will roll out later this year.

New visual canvas for Google Assistant

The first Smart Displays will be released in July, powered by Google Assistant. In order to power the experiences provided by Smart Displays, Google had to whip up a new visual interface for Assistant.

Also of note, Google Assistant’s visual UI is getting an overhaul on mobile devices as well in 2018.

Swiping up in the Google app will show a snapshot of the user’s entire day courtesy of Google Assistant. The new UI is coming to Android this summer and to iOS later this year.

Google Duplex

Using text to speech, deep learning, AI, and more, Google Assistant can be a real assistant. In a demo at I/O 2018, Google Assistant made a real call to a hair salon and had a back and forth conversation with an employee, ultimately booking an actual woman’s haircut appointment in the time span requested by the user.

This is not a feature that will roll out anytime soon, but it’s something Google is working hard to develop for both business and consumers. An initial version of the service that will call businesses to get store hours will roll out in the coming weeks, and the data collected will allow Google to update open and close hours under company profiles online.

Here’s a demo video:

TOP NEWS IN TEXT

Google News

[ARTICLE BELOW CITED FROM BGR.COM ]Google News is getting an overhaul that focuses on highlighting quality journalism. The revamp will make it easier for users to keep up with the news by showing a briefing at the top with five important stories. Local news will be highlighted as well, and the Google News app will constantly evolve and learn a user’s preferences as he or she uses the app.

Videos from YouTube and elsewhere will be showcased more prominently, and a new feature called Newscasts are like Instagram stories, but for news.

The refreshed Google News will also take steps to help users understand the full scope of a story, showcasing a variety of sources and formats. The new feature, which is called “Full Coverage,” will also help by providing related stories, background, timelines of key related events, and more.

Finally, a new Newsstand section lets users follow specific publications, and they can even subscribe to paid news services right inside the app. Paid subscriptions will make content available not just in the Google News app, but on the publisher’s website and elsewhere as well.

The updated Google News app is rolling out on the web, iOS, and Android beginning today, and it will be completely rolled out by the end of next week.

Android P

Google had already released the first build of Android P for developers, but on Tuesday the company discussed a number of new Android P features that fall into three core categories.

Intelligence

Google partnered with DeepMind to create a feature called Adaptive Battery. It uses machine learning to determine which apps you use frequently and which ones you use only sporadically, and it restricts background processes for seldom used apps in order to save battery live.

Another new feature called Adaptive Brightness learns a user’s brightness preferences in different ambient lighting scenarios to improve auto-brightness settings.

App Actions is a new feature in Android P that predicts actions based on a user’s usage patterns. It helps users get to their next task more quickly. For example, if you search for a movie in Google, you might get an App Action that offers to open Fandango so you can buy tickets.

Slices is another new feature that allows developers to take a small piece of their apps — or “slice” — that can be rendered in different places. For example, a Google search for hotels might open a slice from Booking.com that lets users begin the booking process without leaving the search screen. Think of it as a widget, but inside another app instead of on the home screen.

Simplicity

Google wants to help technology fade to the background so that it gets out of the user’s way.

First, Android P’s navigation has been overhauled. Swipe up on a small home button at the bottom and a new app switcher will open. Swipe up again and the app drawer will open. The new app switcher is now horizontal, and it looks a lot like the iPhone app switcher in iOS 11.

Also appreciated is a new rotation button that lets users choose which apps can auto-rotate and which ones cannot.

Digital wellbeing

Android P brings some important changes to Android that focus on wellbeing.

There’s a new dashboard that shows users exactly how their spent their day on their phone. It’ll show you which apps you use and for how long, and it provides other important info as well. Controls will be available to help users limit the amount of time they spend in certain apps.

An enhanced Do Not Disturb mode will stop visual notifications as well as audio notifications and vibrations. There’s also a new “shush” feature that automatically enables Do Not Disturb when a phone is turned face down on a table. Important contacts will still be able to call even when the new Do Not Disturb mode is enabled.

There’s also a new wind-down mode that fades the display to grayscale when someone uses his or her phone late at night before bed.

Google announced a new Android P Beta program just like Apple’s public iOS beta program. It allows end users to try Android P on their phones beginning today.

Google Maps

A new “For You” tab in Google Maps shows you new businesses in your area as well as restaurants that are trending around you. Google also added a new “Your Match” score to display the likelihood of you liking a new restaurant based on your historical ratings.

Have trouble choosing a restaurant when you go out in a group? A long-press on any restaurant will add it to a new short list, and you can then share that list with friends. They can add other options, and the group can then choose a restaurant from the group list.

These new features will roll out to Maps this summer.

Computer Vision

A bit further down the road, Google is working on a fascinating new feature that combines computer vision courtesy of the camera with Google Maps Street View to create an AR experience in Google Maps.

Google Lens is also coming to additional devices in the coming weeks, and there are new features coming as well.

Lens can now understand words, and you can copy and paste words on a sign or a piece of paper to the phone’s clipboard. You can also get context — for example, Google Lens can see a dish on a menu and tell you the ingredients.

A new shopping features let you point your camera at an item to get prices and reviews. And finally, Google Lens now works in real time to constant scan items in the camera frame to give information and, soon, to overlay live results on items in your camera’s view.

BONUS: Waymo self-driving taxi service

Waymo is the only company that currently has a fleet of fully self-driving cars with no driver needed in the driver’s seat. On Tuesday, Waymo announced a new self-driving taxi service that will soon launch in Phoenix, Arizona. Customers will be able to hail autonomous cars with no one in the driver’s seat, and use those self-driving cars to travel to any local destination. The service will launch before the end of 2018.

The post Have A Look At What The Future Has in Store From The Google I/O 2018 keynote (in 14 minutes) appeared first on D3bris Online Magazine.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

How did you find Microsoft Build yesterday? We don’t really have time for your answer because Google I/O is already here! Google is kicking off its annual developer conference today. As usual, there will be a consumer keynote with major new products in the morning, and a developer-centric keynote in the afternoon.

The conference starts at 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM on the East Cost, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris) and you can watch the live stream right here on this page. The developer keynote will be at 12:45 PM Pacific Time.

Rumor has it that Google is about to share more details about Android P, the next major release of its Android platform. But you can also expect some Google Assistant and Google Home news, some virtual reality news and maybe even some Wear OS news. We have a team on the ground ready to cover the event, so don’t forget to read TechCrunch to get our take on today’s news.

Gadgets – TechCrunch John Biggs

The whole-home wireless craze peaked and waned last year with the rise of Orbi, Eero, Google WiFi, and Linksys’ Velop. These routers use mesh technology to blanket your home in soft, velvety Wi-Fi, ensuring that everything from the front camera/lamp to the Wi-Fi-connected grill in the back yard are connected to the Internet. I’ve tested a number of these so far and have settled on Orbi as the best of the bunch but the original tri-band Velop was excellent and this dual-band model – a cheaper but still speedy whole home solution – has maintained quality and value and holds the crown for the cheapest – and best – mesh network you can buy.

This new mesh kit, the Velop AC3900, costs $299 and is slightly smaller than the original AC4400, a tri-band solution that started at $349 for three units. Considering most routers hover around the $100 mark with some falling as low as $20, it was a hard sell and the story manufacturers told – your Wi-Fi was insufficient for your home and you needed multiple little routers instead of one in the living room – didn’t quite resonate. Linksys reacted to this by releasing this smaller, cheaper model onto a single-router world.

The result is the AC3900, a shorter, smaller device that can hide in your home (as long as its near an electrical outlet) or sit out as a high-design techno-tchotchke. The Velop can blanket up to 4,500 square feet and even act as a wired router for standalone devices. Setup is as easy as pulling a single unit out of the box and connecting to it while running the Linksys app. You can then add more units throughout the home.

The AC3900 devices are a few inches shorter than the AC4400 and they are missing a few of the high-end bells and whistles of the original models. First, these routers have less memory than the original models, with system memory halving from the original 512MB down to 256MB and internal Flash memory falling from 4GB to 256MB. The router also supports only two simultaneous bands while the original model supported three simultaneous bands. In practice I saw solid performance out of both models with the AC3900 maxing out at about 900Mbps internal network speeds which equates to some excellent Internet speeds when the entire system is working. Interestingly, you can also ask your voice assistants to turn on or off Velop’s guest network, a cute feature for when visitors come over.

The real question most people have regarding these whole home solutions is whether they work and whether they’re worth it. Most of them, except for a few exceptions I discovered in my trials, work very, very well. Velop is easy to set up – you just place it in a room and press a button – and once it’s installed you’ll throw away all of your other routers. For years I placed a single router in my living room and used some Apple Airports and wireline networking to connect things up to my attic. Now with mesh networking I get a solid signal throughout the house and even in the back yard.

The AC3900 comes with three units and costs the same as Linksys’ dual-unit AC4400. While the AC4400 are ostensibly better I would argue that the AC3900 is about the same and the added benefit of an extra unit makes the whole-home Internet even more widespread. Mesh routers are the way to go and this is a great way to try them out.

The only thing you really need to know about these units is that they work. Whether you’re dropping a bunch of Netgear Orbis around your house or starting up a Google Wifi unit, mesh networks make your wireless experience much better. Linksys, to their credit, just made that experience a little cheaper.

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Gadgets – TechCrunch Jon Russell

Google’s two smart speaker products — the Google Home and Google Home Mini — and its Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones are now available in India following a launch event in the country.

The devices are priced at Rs 9,999 ($154), and Rs 4,499 ($69), respectively, and Google confirmed that they are available for purchase online via Flipkart and offline through over 750 retailer stores, including Reliance Digital, Croma and Bajaj Electronics.

The Google smart speakers don’t cater to India’s multitude of local languages at this point, but the U.S. company said that they do understand “distinctly” India voices and “will respond to you with uniquely Indian contexts,” such as answering questions about local sport, cooking or TV shows.

For a limited time, Google is incentivizing early customers who will get six months of Google Play Music alongside offers for local streaming services Saavn and Gaana when they buy the Home or Home Mini.

Google Home and Home Mini were first announced at Google I/O in 2016. The company said recently that it has sold “tens of millions” of speakers, with more than seven million sales between October 2017 and January 18.

Still, it’s been a long time coming to India, which has allowed others to get into the market first. Amazon, which is pouring considerable resources into its India-based business to battle Flipkart, brought its rival Echo smart devices to India last October.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Devin Coldewey

The vastness that makes the Amazon rainforest so diverse and fertile also makes it extremely difficult to protect. Rainforest Connection is a project started back in 2014 that used solar powered second-hand phones as listening stations that could alert authorities to sounds of illegal logging. And applying machine learning has supercharged the network’s capabilities.

The original idea is still in play: modern smartphones are powerful and versatile tools, and work well as wireless sound detectors. But as founder Topher White explained in an interview, the approach is limited to what you can get the phones to detect.

Originally, he said, the phones just listened for certain harmonics indicating, for example, a chainsaw. But bringing machine learning into the mix wrings much more out of the audio stream.

“Now we’re talking about detecting species, gunshots, voices, things that are more subtle,” he said. “And these models can improve over time. We can go back into years of recordings to figure out what patterns we can pull out of this. We’re turning this into a big data problem.”

White said he realized early on that the phones couldn’t do that kind of calculation, though — even if their efficiency-focused CPUs could do it, the effort would probably drain the battery. So he began working with Google’s TensorFlow platform to perform the training and integration of new data in the cloud.

Google also helped produce a nice little documentary about one situation where Guardians could help native populations deter loggers and poachers:

That’s in the Amazon, obviously, but Rainforest Connection has also set up stations in Cameroon and Sumatra, with others on the way.

Machine learning models are particularly good at finding patterns in noisy data that sound logical but defy easy identification through other means.

For instance, White said, “We should be able to detect animals that don’t make sounds. Jaguars might not always be vocalizing, but the animals around them are, birds and things.” The presence of a big cat then, might be easier to detect by listening for alarmed bird calls than for its near-silent movement through the forest.

The listening stations can be placed as far as 25 kilometers (about 15 miles) from the nearest cell tower. And since a device can detect chainsaws a kilometer away and some species half a kilometer away, it’s not like they need to be on every tree.

But, as you may know, the Amazon is rather a big forest. He wants more people to get involved, especially students. White partnered with Google to launch a pilot program where kids can build their own “Guardian,” as the augmented phone kits are called. When I talked with him it was moments before one such workshop in LA.

Topher White and students at one of the Guardian building workshops.

“We’ve already done three schools and I think a couple hundred students, plus three more in about half an hour,” he told me. “And all these devices will be deployed in the Amazon over the next three weeks. On Earth day they’ll be able to see them, and download to app to stream the sounds. It’s to show these kids that what they do can have an immediate effect.”

“An important part is making it inclusive, proving these things can be built by anyone in the world, and showing how anyone can access the data and do something cool with it. You don’t need to be a data scientist to do it,” he continued.

Getting more people involved is the key to the project, and to that end Rainforest Connection is working on a few new tricks. One is an app you’ll be able to download this summer “where people can put their phone on their windowsill and get alerts when there’s a species in the back yard.”

The other is a more public API; currently only partners like companies and researchers can access it. But with a little help all the streams from the many online Guardians will be available for anyone to listen to, monitor, and analyze. But that’s all contingent on having money.

“If we want to keep this program going, we need to find some funding,” White said. “We’re looking at grants and at corporate sponsorship — it’s a great way to get kids involved too, in both technology and ecology.”

Donations help, but partnerships with hardware makers and local businesses are more valuable. Want to join up? You can get at Rainforest Connection here.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Darrell Etherington

The advanced universal remote market is not a very crowded market. In fact, for a while now, Logitech’s Harmony line has been pretty much the only game in town. Newcomer NEEO wants to upset that monopoly with its new NEEO Remote and NEEO Brain combo ($369), which is a system that can connect just about any AV system, along with a smorgasbord of connected smart devices including Nest, Philips Hue, Sonos and more.

NEEO’s two-part system includes the Brain, which, true to its name, handles all of the heavy lifting. This is a puck-shaped device with 360-degree IR blasters dotting its outside perimeter, and which has one IR extender out (there’s one in the box) for connecting devices held within a closed AV cabinet, for instance. This central hub also connects to your Wi-Fi network, and setup requires plugging it into your router via Ethernet to get everything squared away, similar to how you initially set up Sonos speakers, if you’re familiar with that process.

Most of the setup work you need to do to get NEEO working happens on your phone, and that’s where it becomes apparent that this smart remote was designed for a modern context. Logitech’s Harmony software has come a long way, and now you can do everything you need to do from the iOS and Android app, but it’s still somewhat apparent that its legacy is as something you initially setup using a desktop and somewhat awkward web-based software. The NEEO feels at home on mobile, and it makes the setup and configuration process much better overall.

The other core component of the NEEO system is the NEEO Remote. This is a fantastic piece of industrial design, first of all. It’s a sleek rectangle crafted from aerospace-grade aluminum that oozes charm, in a way that nothing in the current Logitech Harmony lineup can come close to matching. The minimalist design still doesn’t suffer from the ‘which way is up?’ problem that the Apple Remote faces, because of subtle design cues including bottom weighting and the presence of ample physical buttons.

A NEEO Remote isn’t necessary for the system to work – you can just use the Brain along with the companion app for iPhone or Android, but the remote is a joy to hold and use, thanks to its unique design, and it features a super high density display that’s extremely responsive to touch input and pleasingly responsive to touch. NEEO took a lot of time to get this touchscreen experience right, and it pays off, delivering a clear and simple control interface that shifts to suit the needs of whatever activity you’re running at the time.

The NEEO Remote also has an “SOS” feature so that you can locate it if you happen to misplace it, and it can even be configured to recognize different hands if you want to set profiles for distinct members of the household, or set parental control profiles limiting access to certain content or devices. This kind of thing is where NEEO’s feature set exceeds the competition, and shows a particular attention to modern device use cases.

One NEEO Remote can also control multiple NEEO Brains, which is another limitation of the completion. That means you can set up NEEO Brains in each room where you have devices to control, and carry your remote from place to place instead of having to have multiple. The NEEO Brain is still $200 on its own, however, so it’s definitely still a barrier to entry.

NEEO otherwise does pretty much everything you’d expect a smart remote to do in 2018: You can set recipes on the deice itself, including with triggers like time-based alarms or motion detection (without using IFTTT). You can connect it to Alexa, though that functionality is limited at the moment, with more updates promised in future to make this better.

The bottom line is that NEEO offers a competent, intelligent alternative the big dog on the block, Logitech’s Harmony system. Logitech’s offering is still more robust and mature in terms of delivering Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, as well as rock solid performance, but NEEO has some clever ideas and unique takes that will serve more patient and tech-forward users better over time.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Lucas Matney

 Google Assistant is about to start doing more without quite as much talking on your part. Long-awaited multi-step routines are just today starting to roll out to users in the U.S., as first spotted by Android Police. In the case of “Good Morning,” which seems to be the first of the multi-step routines to go live, you can get Assistant to do stuff like turn on your lights, tell… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch Matt Burns

Harman and Samsung have entered into a strategic association that will have Harman taking up the SmartThings’ standard and carrying it forward against other Internet of Things products. Announced today, Samsung SmartThings R&D team and HARMAN Connected Services (HCS), a division of HARMAN International, will collaborate on the platform with HCS developing and supporting the […]

Gadgets – TechCrunch Greg Kumparak

 Just a quick bit of news for those with Nest cams around the house: a new, cheaper Nest Aware plan is on the way. Nest has long offered two plans: a $10/month plan that lets you store the last 10 days of video history, and a $30/month plan that gives you 30 days of video history. This new plan will cost $5 per month and, yes, will give you five days of video history. Read More