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Google I/O 2019

Hi there, 

My name is Isaac Verniers, one of The Reference's mobile developers. As you might have seen on our social media channels, I was invited to Google I/O 2019, an opportunity that I seized to discover Google’s latest products and platform innovations. After a little more than 15 hours travel time, I arrived at my AirBnb in sunny California, ready to attend my first ever Google I/O!

Google IO pass

As it might get pretty crowded at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, I decided to leave early to get a seat close to the stage. With high expectations, I waited for the opening keynote of Sundar Pichai (Google CEO).The first thing he mentioned was the AR functionality to find your way around the venue. A very helpful feature, although it did take a few tries for it to function correctly. Another cool AR announcement Google made featured  Google Search. It might now show you a 3D model of the item you are searching for in Google’s search bar. You can even place the object in your own space and move it around!


Throughout the keynote and the whole event, Google emphasized on privacy, security, digital wellbeing and accessibility. It is very heartwarming to see how Google does its best to help people overcome disabilities. An example is Live Relay, which makes it possible for people to make phone calls without having to listen or speak to their phone. Every interaction happens on the display so deaf people, for example, can call someone through an assistive chat. Another feature that overcomes a disability is Live Caption, which uses on-device software to caption all kinds of content, no matter what the origin. As you speak, Live Caption provides subtitles through on-device machine learning.

Android Q didn't get that much attention during the keynote. In short, Android Q will come with improved privacy and security features, foldables and a large offer of useful additions. And a dark theme! Some of the new features will require code changes in your app(s) to be fully Android Q compatible. For example, Android Q updates the location settings which provides users more control over the phone’s location services and which apps can access them. Next to that, Android Q implements a complete new way of navigation. Swiping gestures from left, bottom and right to navigate your way through your phone, we might have seen that somewhere else before... :)


Google IO location permissions

As I said earlier, digital wellbeing is a hot topic that was clearly visible during Google I/O. The new Focus Mode will allow users to disable certain applications when this mode is turned on. The biggest advantage in comparison to ‘airplane mode’ or ‘do not disturb’ is that the user can choose which applications are blocked. Focus Mode will be coming to Android Pie and Q.

Next to all these new features, Google also presented some new hardware. The long-rumored Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are Google's newest phones in the Pixel-line. Unfortunately, these will not be available in Belgium anytime soon. Other than the 2 new Pixels, Google showcased its newest in-house assistant, the Nest Hub Max, combining its Nest smart home brand and Google Home smart devices. It packs a 10-inch display and a camera that has a hardware-connected light to indicate activity.  Again, not for the BE users.

Next to the keynote, there were many technical and educational talks on Android, AI, AR, Flutter and other developer-related topics. Want to know how you can increase installs by decreasing app size? Or how you can make your application ready for Android Q? Come and have a chat with me or one of my mobile colleagues! :)

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Isaac Verniers and Android Pie

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