Google is just over two weeks away from its annual conference Google I/O, and experts are tipping not only will they reveal upgrades to the Android operating system, there will also be improvements to Google Assistant , and a new version of Google Home Hub revealed.
So, what’s predicted to occur at Google I/O and how will it affect the smart home?
Google Assistant is the ever-obliging helper behind a wealth of smart home technology. Technically a voice assistant, she is the friendly aide who helps decipher voice activated requests and fulfill them.
In Australia, Google ranks as one of the most popular voice assistants and is present on your desktop or laptop computer powering voice activated searches, while also residing in your Android mobile phone.
Activated by the simple words “Hey Google”, Google Assistant is pretty much everywhere. At this year’s CES, Google Assistant was found in more and more devices, which was good news for Australia, where Google tends to be the assistant of choice.
Google is consistently working on improvements for the Assistant and IO on May 7 should see even further refinements.
Digital Trends tips AI will be a major focus along with progress on its appointment booking capabilities, and easier connections to other smart devices.
“Expect to hear more about Google’s appointment-booking A.I. Duplex, which recently rolled out to a range of Android and iOS devices U.S.-wide,” Digital Trends says.
“Whether that means new abilities or worldwide rollouts we’re not sure, but it’s probable Google will be looking at Duplex’s A.I. as a big part of the future.
“Google Assistant Connect is also likely to be mentioned, if not in the keynote, then in the workshops and talks instead. Initially announced at CES 2019, Google Assistant Connect allows third-party manufacturers to easily connect their smart devices to the Google Assistant, allowing the A.I. to access and control those devices.”
Google Home Hub Max
Late last year, Google unveiled a smart speaker complete with display entitled Google Home Hub. If the tech experts are correct that too could be set for an upgrade.
Google Home Hub is basically Google’s incarnation of their perennially popular smart speaker that comes with display. That means it connects to the internet and you can ask it to check the weather, tune into your favourite radio station and read you your Google calendar events for the day.
Its seven-inch screen enables you to do things like call up recipes and then read them as you cook or have all your photographs displaying on a screen while the device sits idle.
As it’s voice activated courtesy of Google Assistant, you can say things like “Hey Google, find me a recipe for spaghetti bolognaise” and it will, helpfully offering a few options before displaying the recipe of your choosing on screen.
It also connects with other smart home devices and smart home hub, effectively allowing you to control your entire smart home by voice using the device.
Now Tech Radar predicts it could be set for an upgrade that would see additional features added along with an increase in size.
While the original had a 7-inch screen, the Home Hub Max has a supposedly expanded 10-inch display.” Tech Radar says.
“This would make it far better for watching media, either while relaxing or during a task (like a recipe or cooking tutorial).
“Crucially, this version is alleged to have a security camera, which the original Home Hub omitted due to privacy (and likely cost-cutting) concerns.
“Evidence suggests it will be named the Nest Hub Max, but we predict it will be called the Google Home Hub Max to put it in line with the previous product.”
Another item on the Google I/O agenda is likely to be a showcase of its latest Android operating system Android Q.
Although not directly related to the smart home, Q will affect the way smart homes are operated using Android smart phone in the future.
Android Q is the next version of the operating system that runs across Android mobile devices. The system has been in beta testing for over a month and is likely to be made public later this year.
However, Google I/O might reveal some of the new features that will be available. Tech Radar notes these could include:
- A system wide dark mode that makes apps offer dark backgrounds and white text
- FaceID style authentication
- Support for more foldable phones
- Additional privacy options
- Extra developer tools
- Bubbles (AKA messaging notifications akin to Facebook Messenger chat bubbles which don’t require users to leave their current app.)
Amidst a raft of further announcements, Google I/O is also likely to deliver two mid-range Android phones based on their flagship Pixel device. These will be known as Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.
Meanwhile, speech recognition is also tipped to be on the agenda as part of a work in progress entitled Project Euphoria.
This is believed to cater to people with speech impairments and give them “their voice back”.
Tech Radar explains it remains unclear what this specifically entails, but could be a new software app or a feature coming to Android, “probably powered by machine learning”.
And it may be a while away from going live, with I/O offering a glimpse into the future.
Google I/O will be held in Mountain View, USA from May 7 to May 9, and we’ll keep you posted on any further announcements that may be related to the smart home.
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