AI, Shopify deal, Starline prototype

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the company’s Google I / O 20201 conference.


Google announced a host of updates to its developer products on Tuesday at its first Google I / O event since 2019.

Although Google gets most of its money from advertising, the annual event is a way to get its developer ecosystem excited with updates ranging from software and artificial intelligence to shopping features. The company canceled the annual developer conference last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year’s event was primarily virtual, with some in-person attendees at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Here’s a rundown of some of the more interesting announcements from the day’s event:


This year’s event was pretty light on hardware announcements, with no major reveals or updates for its Pixel phones or home speakers. However, it announced some updates to existing products.

In particular, Google said it now has a whopping 3 billion active Android devices, globally, far ahead of Apple’s claim of a billion iPhones. However, Android devices are very divergent in terms of the version of the platform they run, some are based only on the core open source code and others are based on custom applications and skins issued by hardware manufacturers and carriers.

The company announced its latest operating system update called Android 12, which runs on 22% reduced server CPU time, which essentially means that “basically, everything is faster,” said Google’s vice president of Android and Google Play, Sameer Samat.

Google executives said it is combining Wear, Google’s wearable technology software platform, with Samsung’s Tizen software. Your goal will be to optimize the smartwatch operating system for the Android platform along with faster charging times and improved battery life.

The company also said it will bring the YouTube Music app for Wear OS later this year.

Fitbit CEO James Park said Google Wear will include popular Fitbit features like tracking healthy progress with plans for more. Google’s parent company Alphabet finally closed its $ 2.1 billion acquisition of the fitness-tracking company in January after regulators took more than a year to sign the proposed deal.

“Moving forward, we will create premium Wear-based smartwatches that combine the best of Fitbit’s health expertise with Google’s ambient computing capabilities,” said Park, referring to Google’s goal of putting computing across all spaces.


The company announced some updates in its push for e-commerce as it aims to compete with Amazon.

The company announced a deeper partnership with Shopify, enabling the company’s more than 1 million merchants to make their products more visible on Google Search and elsewhere. It will allow Shopify businesses to appear on Google Search, Maps, Lens, Images and YouTube “with just a few clicks.” Shares of Shopify were up as much as 4% on the news.

Separately, the company announced other enhancements to its e-commerce functionality: For example, Google’s Chrome browser will constantly display shopping carts when people open new tabs, so they can shop again after performing other tasks.

Collaboration technology

Google also announced some updates to facilitate collaboration within its Workplace products. The industry, which also includes Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack, saw an increase in use during the pandemic.

A new feature in Workspace called Smart Canvas will allow people to tag other users in a document and call through their video platform, Google Meet, directly from a document, spreadsheet or slide.

The company also showed off an initial research project called Project Starline that creates a 3D image of a person that can be used for conversations in a meeting. It appears as a kind of hologram chat.

CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized that Project Starline is still in the early stages, but that some employees have been testing it amid efforts to collaborate between separate locations during the pandemic. You are planning trial deployments with business partners later this year.

Artificial intelligence

Google is best known for its artificial intelligence technology, which powers its products from search to self-driving cars. Executives said Tuesday that he is getting even smarter.

Pichai introduced LaMDA, a breakthrough in natural language processing, which aims to make conversations and searches more natural while having the ability to answer more open questions. Pichai gave the example of a person who had a conversation with the planet Pluto, which gave answers to the questions that the user had about it.

Executives also announced a “Unified Multitasking Model” they call MUM, which they said is 1,000 times more powerful than the BERT model that powers Google Search. By extracting data from texts, images, and videos, MUM can supposedly answer complex questions about what a user might need for, say, a specific hike in the bush. Fuji.

Google also announced its first campus dedicated to quantum computing. Quantum AI’s campus in Santa Barbara, California, includes a data center, research labs, and its own quantum processor chip manufacturing facilities. “These new computing capabilities will help accelerate the discovery of better batteries, energy-efficient fertilizers, and targeted drugs, as well as improved optimization, new AI architectures, and more,” the company says.

Speaking at her first Google I / O, Google’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo, a former Obama administration official who joined the company in 2019, said the company is helping create a device that uses artificial intelligence to detect skin conditions. After users upload three different photos of skin, hair or nail problems and answer a few questions, a diagnosis of possible dermatological conditions will be offered along with information about them.

DeSalvo said the product will be accessible from Internet browsers and will cover 288 conditions, including 90% of the most commonly searched derm-related questions on Google. It will first be available to consumers in the European Union by the end of the year, he said.

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