Google I/O 2019: Android Q, Pixel 3a and more announced

Google developers conclave I/O 2019 edition witnessed lots of announcements both in terms of hardware and software upgrades.

Here are the key highlights of Google's mega three-day software programmers conference:

Pixel 3a series
After weeks of speculations, Google Pixel 3a and the 3a XL finally saw the light of the day at Shoreline Amphitheatre on May 7. 

The generic Pixel 3a sports a 5.6-inch full HD+ display and on the back, it flaunts dual-tone polycarbonate shell with fingerprint sensor and a single-lens camera in the top left corner.
Under-the-hood, it comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 octa-core processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage and a 3,000mAh battery, which is enough to last a whole day under mixed usage.


Pixel 3a series; picture credit: Google

Whereas the Google Pixel 3a XL, it comes with 6.0-inch full HD+ (2160x1080p) OLED screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage and 3,700mAh cell, which is sufficient to run the phone for more than a day.

Both the phones boast 12.2MP primary camera with LED flash and an 8MP front snapper. It will be assisted by Google's advanced photography software seen in the flagship Pixel 3 series. Rest assured, the Pixel 3a series will take best pictures in all light conditions. They also run Android Pie out-of-the-box and are expected to get the Android Q later this year and also are guaranteed to get two additional years of software and security support. Additionally, Google has incorporated Titan M security chip to store sensitive data

Pixel 3a and the 3a XL costs $399 and $479, respectively in the US. In India, they will set you back by Rs 39,999 and Rs 44,999, respectively.

Google Nest Hub Max

Besides the new Pixel 3a, other big hardware to make the debut is the Google Nest Hub Max and also officially brought the company's Home smart speakers under the 'Nest' brand.
The new Nest Hub Max, which the Google wants to call it as the kitchen TV comes with a massive 10-inch HD screen and a smart camera, which the user can make use of to keep an eye on their home and also, video chat with the family and friends.

It also boasts motion sensor and when activated, it will track for movements in the house and it senses anything sinister, a notification will be sent to the device owner's phone.
Another interesting aspect of the Google Nest Hub Max is that it features voice-and-face recognition technology, which will offer personalized recommendation and also, when a person walks past the device, it will update the screen with relevant details such as upcoming appointments in the day, real-time traffic update in the usual commute route, weather, email notifications, and more information if there is, related to that particular person.


Google Nest Hub; picture credit: Google

Though some see this as a welcome convenience, others fear about the privacy, as the camera will be tracking their every movement and what they speak in the room, it is the place. Well, Google has made a provision for the anxious consumer to switch off or on the camera and also the microphone. One can physically turn off the button in the Nest Hub Max or on the smartphone app.

It will be made available in the US initially for $229 this summer and Google plans to bring Nest Hub Max to 13 more regions including Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, and Sweden in coming months.

Smarter Google Assistant

The one that got most developers excited at the I/O 2019 event, was the demo of new improved Google Assistant, which was swift in responding to the commands of the presenter and executing the functions. The company revealed how they were able to make it work faster, as they plan to have an onboard chip inside the phone and AI-algorithm over time, will learn the users' behaviour and be able to answer queries up to 10 times faster, with almost zero latency. Also, users will be able to shoot several requests in a row without having to say “Hey Google” each time. It will first come to Pixel phones later this year. 

Remember the Duplex demo in I/O 2018, which the Google CEO Sundar Pichai demoed, wherein Google Assistant single-handedly booked an appointment in a hair salon and in the second instance, it reserved the table for four in a restaurant. Well now, it has gotten better and is now called Duplex for Web, which is capable of completing a more complicated form of online transaction than ever before.

The consumer can just ask the Google Assistant, Book a car with national for my next trip,' and it will intuitively complete the task. It will navigate to your usually preferred site and upload your information such as trip details saved in your Gmail or payment information saved in Chrome. It will, of course, ask you at important junctures where it is necessary for your permission to go forward in booking the rental car such as payments and stuff. 

Duplex on the web will be available later this year in English in the U.S. and U.K. on Android phones with the Assistant for rental car bookings and movie tickets.
The company is planning to bring Duplex-like capabilities in the company's Waze, a GPS navigation app and is starting off with driving mode, which can be triggered on the phone by saying as simple as hey Google let's go for a drive and once, enabled, the phone will automatically receive calls and notify the user through voice revealing who's calling, read out SMS if any and also inform real-time traffic en route to the pre-selected destination. Also, if the driver has made a hotel reservation, it will also offer a route map.  
Stay tuned. Google has promised to bring more features in the coming months.

Privacy
Despite facing the accusation of showing laxity in privacy regulations, Google's CEO Pichai has once again affirmed that the company is serious about protecting user privacy.
 In that order, Google is making it easier for users to manage their data in Maps, the Assistant and YouTube (coming soon). For instance, the Android service user will be able to review and delete their location activity data directly in Google Maps. Also, Incognito mode is coming to the navigation app, as well.
It also bringing auto-delete controls for Location History and Web & App Activity, which will allow the user to choose to automatically and continuously delete their data.
The Mountain View-based company has built security keys directly in the Android phone, giving the user easier and more convenient protection against phishing attacks. This is rolling out to all devices running Android 7.0 and above.

Accessibility
Google is working Project Euphonia, which uses AI to improve the computer's' abilities to understand and transcribe a diverse set of speech patterns, including impaired speech. It will be made available in all smart gadgets in the coming months.

The company is also bringing Live Relay feature, which uses on-device speech recognition and text-to-speech conversion to allow the phone to listen and speak on people’s behalf while they type. It is also working on Project Diva, a research effort that makes Google Assistant more accessible for people with disabilities.

Google Maps
Google Maps is the most used navigation app in the world, as it offers minute details, which come in handy in locating a destination by walk or by a vehicle. Now, users will have fun using the Google Maps, as the company is rolling out an update with Augmented Reality (AR) overlay feature with 3D arrows and colorful props,  with every step you take towards the destination.


Google Maps gets AR navigation feature; picture credit: Google

As said before, Google Maps will get Incognito mode and also option to delete all the navigation details of the past in the Settings options so that users will be assured of that nobody is tracking them and there is no chance of details getting leaked or stolen.

Android Q
Though Google didn't reveal the moniker of the Android 10 'Q', it did disclose several new features, privacy enhancements, digital wellbeing improvements and more coming in the Android Pie successor.

Android Q's gesture-based navigation will allow the user to easily move between tasks and fully utilize the bigger screen on an Android Phone. And also, bringing the dark theme, which will greatly improve the battery life of the device.

It will also get Live caption feature that will transcribe the video with texts below the screen in real-time on YouTube or any video streaming service app.

Android Q' Settings has been refurbished and move permission option to the top level so the user can find all the important controls in one place. Also, Android Q arms the user with new permission controls so that he or she can share their location (or not) with apps on their own terms.

Android Q brings the new Focus Mode, that will help users get things done without distraction, by selecting the apps they want to stay active and pausing everything they don't.
And to help children and families find a better balance with technology, Google is bringing Family Link part of every device that has Digital Wellbeing, starting with Android Q.
After working on Project Treble to fast track software roll-out to all Android phones, Google is bringing new Project Mainline with Android Q, so that it can update core OS components to the device without a full OS update, which the affiliate manufacturer can take its time to optimize and release the rest.

Improvements to Google Lens
Google Lens is undeniably the best camera assistant app in all mobile OS ecosystem. It makes a somber photography session into a fun infotainment exercise and now, it is getting better. 

Google is bringing Augmented Reality (AR) to overlay useful information and content onto the things the user see through Google Lens. For instance, if the user sees a dish recipe, want to cook, he or she just can point the phone's camera at a recipe and have the page come to life and show the owner exactly how to make it. 

Further, Google Lens will be able to live to transcribe a menu or any text to your own language. For instance, if you are in an exotic location and in a restaurant and can't understand what the menu is saying, just point the camera to it and the Google Len's will overlay the words of your preferred language and it can read it out loud for you too. It works in more than 100 languages, Google said.

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