Google’s three-day annual developers conference has kicked off at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California.
Before the conference started, the company had announced that it was rebranding its Google Research division to Google AI — a move that signaled Google’s future direction.
During his keynote on the opening day, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive officer, discussed ways in which AI technologies could benefit the society. He said just by analyzing retinal scans the AI technology could predict the probability of an individual developing heart problems in future. It could provide more efficient assistance for the hearing impaired as well, he added.
Among the various software announcements made during the conference was a “continued conversation” update to Google Assistant. This update would enable improved interaction between the software and its users. Not only will the users be able to ask multiple questions within the same request but they will also no no longer need to start each command by saying “Hey Google”. The updated software will be able to speak in six new voices, including that of singer John Legend.
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Speaking at the opening day, Scott Huffman, the Google Assistant vice president of engineering, said that following an update made on requests received from many users, Google Assistant could now also be used to train children to be more polite. Parents will be able to activate a setting that would require children to say “please” when using the assistant. If they forget to do so, Google Assistant will remind them and later thank them for following through.
Another update will enable Google Assistant to make personalized recommendations to users on Google Maps. The company is leveraging computer vision technology to improve user experience in Google Maps and Google Lens. Using Google Lens, users will now be able to identify text or objects just by pointing their cameras towards it.
The company will be offering more powerful editing tools in Google Photos such as brightness correction, rotation suggestions, and addition of more colors. Its AI-powered features will automatically sort pictures by creating collages and videos.
Another interesting feature announced on the opening day of the conference was about helping users strike a balance between time spent on smartphones and other devices and with their family and friends.
Pichai said that Google was working towards developing ways to help people switch off from their smartphones and wind down so they could spend more time with friends and family. The new feature will show people how much time they spend using their smartphones and how often they unlock the device or receive notifications. It will also remind YouTube users to take a break from watching videos. Pichai explained that users would get a notification saying, “Time to take a break? You’ve been watching for one hour.”