Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Google I/O May 19

For a Google event, that was pretty uneventful; but it did contain a few nuggets of interesting updates for both hardware and app software implementations.

The Google Pixel 3A and 3A XL were the main showcases. Two cheaper phone models, for those of us not willing to throw a grand down on a phone, without too much compromisation to the practicality or even the performance of the devices. The standard Pixel 3A comes in at £399, with a 5.6" screen and the Pixel 3A XL at £470 with a 6" screen. They both house the same guts. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor, 64 GB of storage, 4 GB of RAM and 12mp front, 8mp back cameras. They both contain an adaptive battery, for faster, longer lasting and more efficient charges. Obviously, they're not the power of the Pixel 3, but for the price range, it's a ridiculously good phone that debatably destroys the performance of the latest iPhones, especially their camera and photo software algorithms. The 3A and 3A XL are available from today in Just-Black, Clearly-White and Purple-ish.

The Nest Hub Max is the latest revision to the Home Hub, which now includes a wide-angle camera capable of tracking and detecting movement. Which could be useful for security reasons and for location tracking during video calls. The facial recognition of the camera can also allow the device to personalise responses and results for individual users. If you're worried it's all getting a little too Hal9000, and impersonal, there are two ways of deactivating the camera and listening software.

The Android Q beta rolls out with some interesting advances. A dark mode, to stop eye strain and potentially keep your battery alive a bit longer. A Parental stalker mode, that allows the user to link accounts, to help monitor your kid's activities and limit what they can see or do and what apps they can use. One I found most interesting (and potentially useful) was Live Caption - you can now add subtitles to any video played on the device, not just in apps but video calls, in real time, too. Not only would this be handy for those of use watching videos whilst we should be working but excellent for deaf and hard of hearing folk.

Google search will soon incorporate 3D models into search results. With the ability to then display the results through Augmented Reality, so you could see what a new pair of trainers would look like sitting on your floor or what a supercar would look like in your driveway. I look forward to being able to study a dinosaur from my bed.

The Google Lens also has a bunch of augmented updates. Google Maps will now display arrows in Street view, showing you the route, in real time so you never miss a turn. It can read menus in restaurants, and give recommendations based on reviews from other users and foreign text can also be translated by simply holding the camera up to it, and then even read it back to you. 

In what seems like a response to Apple's heart monitoring tech, Google are using their own AI's deep learning for early detection of things such as lung cancer. It was all a bunch of "if"s and "could"s but the potential is amazing. The example given was that it could analyze CT scans and potentially detect lung malignancies a year ahead of trained doctors, increasing the chances of survival by 40%. Anything that helps find and fight cancer is good by me.

Come back tomorrow to find out more!

Bry Wyatt

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