What To Expect at Google I/O Conference

Rumors are starting to circulate about what we should expect for Google’s annual developer conference I/O which starts Wednesday. Here are a few things we expect to see related to voice assistants and AI.

High Likelihood

  1. Android Auto will will officially get Google Assistant support. Bloomberg is reporting that Audi and Volvo will have live demos at Google I/O and that, “the new car feature also hints at Google’s long-term ambitions to spread its artificial intelligence service to every corner of consumer’s lives.”
  2. Google Assistant will be announced for iOS. This may be an Allo upgrade to the app which is already available today with more functionality. Android Police suggests the information is reliable, but the timing is unconfirmed. Google is watching its new rival, Amazon, very closely, but still wants to put distance between Google Assistant and Apple Siri. I/O seems like a good time to make the announcement. With that said, iOS is pretty locked down. Assistant may have many wonderful features, but it won’t be nearly as useful as it is for Android users. The bigger win for Google will be supporting Google Home customers that are iPhone and iPad owners.
  3. Google Mesh Wifi Integrated into Google Home. This is already available in the UK and there are many reasons why it is not a great product idea. However, the product team built it, so someone will promote it.
  4. Enterprise applications of voice and AI. ComputerWorld reports comments from industry analyst Jeff Kagan that, “There is enormous pressure on Google to make some serious announcements for the enterprise. I expect to see Google announce a variety of things on both sides — consumer and enterprise — and this will just be the start of another revolution for Google.” Particularly coming off of Microsoft’s Build conference and extensive discussion of enterprise collaboration use cases around Cortana and Teams, Google is nearly certain to have new announcements in this sector.

Medium Likelihood

  1. Actions available on Google Home will be available on Google Assistant. Many people don’t realize that very few of the 200 Actions on Google Home are actually available on Google Assistant today. Assuming Google has worked out its technical hurdles, expect everyone with Assistant to have access to all Actions.
  2. A number of new Actions for Google Home. Google’s voice application count for Google Home is not going to catch up to Amazon anytime soon. However, the company can make a positive PR statement by releasing several high profile new Actions for Google Home / Assistant that have real utility for users.
  3. New third party OEMs integrating with Google Assistant. Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service has a big lead in building its OEM partner ecosystem as we learned at CES 2017. It is important for Google to show Assistant adoption among manufacturers of non-Google devices.
  4. Updates to TensorFlow for developers. The Verge points out that Google’s machine learning platform TensorFlow is likely to get a lot of attention. It is the most popular machine learning framework in GitHub and is being used in a number of interesting projects. Expect some of these to be highlighted at I/O.

Low Likelihood

  1. Announcement of calling and messaging features for Google Home. There were leaks that Google is working on this and may well launch this week. However, there haven’t been any recent leaks so we should assume an announcement later this year. If Google does announce calling, you can bet that is why Amazon announced its calling features last week even though it still has some user control inadequacies.
  2. Announcement of Google Home or Google Assistant launches for Spanish and French speaking countries. Voicebot pointed out last week that Google Allo now understands these two languages. Spanish is the world’s second most spoken language. This would change the industry dynamic entirely if Google can enter Spanish and French speaking markets ahead of Amazon. It may still be some time before Assistant is ready for a full speech model for these languages. Responding to searches in a language is different from holding conversational interactions.
  3. Price cut to Google Home or a lower cost device for the masses. Can Google roll out a $50 or even $99 version of Home? Probably not right now, but maybe in the fall. If they do cut the price, expect a lot of sales acceleration.

No matter what is launched, don’t expect much of it to be available soon. The developer conferences are typically more about forecasting what is to come than demonstrating what is available now. You can watch Google I/O’s opening session Wednesday at 10am PST here.

Google Allo Now Speaks Spanish and French – Can Google Home Be Far Behind?

Amazon Alexa Calling and Messaging is a Great Feature That Puts Rivals on Defensive