12 Cool Technologies at Google I/O 2021
The Google I/O 2021 developer conference came roaring back (virtually) this week after a 2-year hiatus. Last year’s conference was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this year’s conference had a wealth of product announcements and teasing unveils of some advanced technology projects that the team at Google has been working on.
This blog lightly touches on 12 of the key highlights from this year’s conference.
Google Search Goes Beyond Smart
Google provided a forward-looking view of the future of their search engine powered by MUM (Multitask Unified Model). MUM is based on Google’s neural network architecture (Transformer) but is much more powerful, being able to understand intent from very complex requests and then formulate in-depth responses as a subject matter expert. MUM is multimodal and multilingual as well so it can understand voice, text, and images across languages. These exciting new features will be coming to Google search over the coming months and years.
Google Shopping Made Easy
Google announced a new partnership with Shopify that will help their 1.7 million merchants be found easier across the Google shopping ecosystem where over a billion shopping searches are conducted every day. Google also introduced a new Shopping Graph and announced the ability for Google Lens to be used in finding similar items to purchase across the web.
Google Chrome With Duplex Keeps Me Safe
Google announced a new feature within their Chrome browser that leverages Google Duplex to identify any compromised passwords saved in your browser and then allows you to change them with a single click.
Google Brings Smart Canvas to Collaboration
Google announced improvements to its Google Workspace suite that it’s collectively calling Smart Canvas. These improvements range from writing features that help with generating content to being able to seamlessly collaborate with team members without the need to switch between discrete Google apps. Users will now be able to invoke a Google Meet session directly from Docs, Sheets, or Slides, or conversely be able to present to Google Meet directly from any of these applications.
Google Is Giving You Back Your Privacy
Google announced several features where you can selectively keep your data private, from adding a passcode-protected folder for photos you’d like to protect, to a quick delete feature to remove the last 15 minutes of your search history, to being able to easily turn off Google location history directly in your Timeline.
Google Maps: Show Me What I Want To See
Google Maps is adding many new features including direct access to Google Live View which includes AR to include details about specific businesses or how busy a particular area is. Additionally, there will be new features within driving navigation to help avoid routes with a lot of stop-and-go traffic. Google will also be adding personalization that for example allows you to visually emphasize coffee shops on a weekday morning, or perhaps points of interest when traveling.
Google Is Organizing My Photos: Thank You Google
Google announced a series of AI features for Google photos. Little Patterns will group photos that have similar content across your timeline and present them collectively as memories. Google also announced Cinematic Photos that uses neural networks to analyze two very similar photos and automatically generate frames to show smooth animated motion between the two shots.
Android 12 Announced: New Look And Better Privacy
Google announced the beta release of Android 12 was available on select devices on May 18th with general availability sometime in Q3. In addition to some major changes in look and feel, there are a lot of new features associated with privacy such as general location sharing options, visual displays on the screen indicating when your camera or microphone is in use, as well as a new privacy dashboard showing which apps access which data and when it occurred.
Google And Samsung Get Behind WearOS
Google announced it will be joining forces with Samsung to create a completely new WearOS developer platform that will combine the current Google WearOS, Samsung Tizen, and include some of the more popular features within Fitbit.
Google LaMDA: What’ve You Been Up To?
Google showed off its latest conversational language model named LaMDA (Language Model for Dialog Applications), built on Google’s neural network architecture, Transformer. The key difference with LaMDA is that it is trained to have open-ended conversational dialog instead of being focused on providing discrete answers to specific questions. The result is an actual human-like conversation instead of a factual response to a search request.
Project Starline: It’s Great To Be With You
Google unveiled an emerging technology they’ve been working on for several years called project Starline. Google combined research in computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio, and real-time compression with a breakthrough light field display system to generate a life-sized, three-dimensional visual representation of a person (think Google Meet but the person on the other end appears to be sitting right in front of you). This project is still in its early stage however the technology looks incredibly promising and Google has already rolled it out at a few of its offices.
Google Doubles Down On Quantum Computing
Google unveiled their plans to build a commercially viable quantum computer at their Quantum AI Campus in Santa Barbara by 2029. The specs laid out during Google I/O 2021 developer conference described the computer as having 1,000 logical error-correcting qubits, each containing 1,000 physical qubits (or 1,000,000 qubits total). Google’s current quantum computers have only dozens of qubits, so lots of work ahead.
Google has clearly been busy innovating technology solutions and has focused a lot of attention on artificial intelligence and privacy. The enhancements to Google Workspace will be of value to enterprises in the coming weeks as it helps make their collaboration suite easier to work in without changing apps. Some of the more forward-looking technologies have the potential to be transformative in the industry like Project Starline and Quantum Computing but are still likely years away.