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Ok Google - What's next?

Google moves from “mobile first to AI first”. Google I/O 2017 unpacked by Travelport Digital.


Want even more? #TravelTech Takeaways from Google I/O Keynote 2017.
Download now our handy 15 slide deck.


With Daydream, Allo, Duo and Home all announced last year it was always going to be a hard act for Google to follow with this year’s I/O but oh boy, it didn’t disappoint! And like our blog sub title says, #IO17 should maybe be renamed #ML17 as one theme ran throughout the event, ‘machine learning’, but more on that later… Yesterday's Google I/O was as jam packed as the crowd was in the amphitheatre in Mountain View California so let us break it down for you.

google io crowd.jpeg

Before we do though let’s quickly go back in time (well 24 hours at least). The I/O rumour mill was in full swing so Travelport Digital decided to stoke those fires by asking our Twitter followers a quick poll question - ‘Which Google IO rumour would you most like to come true?’

Google IO twitter poll.png

Two of them came true (well done to our twitter followers!) but which ones? Read on to find out exactly what did get announced yesterday.

Android: A Big Milestone

Google IO 2 billion active users.png(Image source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_M4B-pl05M )

Google CEO Sundar Pichai opened the event by saying “As you can see, the robot behind me is pretty happy” and I bet Google are too as there are now 2 billion active users on Android! IO14 was the last time he talked about this figure and it was a billion then so there has been huge growth for that ‘other’ mobile OS that we know and love.

Android Go: Reaching the next billion users

android go.jpeg
If that jump wasn’t big enough, Google are gunning for the next billion by targeting the emerging mobile markets with Android Go (cue huge stat drop in the keynote that there are now more Android users in India than the US). Go is basically a lightweight version of Android O for cheaper, entry-level phones, but Go isn’t the first time they’ve tried this (remember Android One?). However, Google aren’t going to make those same mistakes again - Go comes with a bunch of optimised Google apps that require less memory, storage and data to run. It’s also got its own Google Play Store, which features apps that are more suited for those developing markets, so expect that 3 billion number to come sooner rather than later.

Google Assistant: “Hey Siri, open Assistant”
Since Assistant debuted last year, it has spread to over 100 million devices and this number is about to explode with the soon-to-be-released Assistant SDK which will make it available on all devices - including iOS! As well as the addition of four new languages, Assistant will introduce Google Actions, allowing integration by third-party developers. The inclusion of Actions means that transactions such as payments, notifications, receipts and identification will now be supported in Assistant on Android and iOS phones. Try it now on iOS (US only), it’s quite polite in that it’s called ‘The Google Assistant’

The machine learning story doesn’t stop there, the introduction of a new technology called Google Lens, which brings AI to the phone’s camera will enable Assistant to make sense of surroundings and display relevant information on your device. For example, if you aim your phone at a restaurant, the name, rating and other info appears on screen. Or point your phone at wi-fi login credentials to automatically log on to that network.

google lens.png(Image source: https://twitter.com/Google/status/864891667723300864)

Google Home: OK Google, The future is calling
Four new features were announced for the Echo baiting Google Home.

  1. Home will now support ‘proactive assistance’, enabling timely and important messages to be sent, with users having the ability to control what type of notifications they receive. 
  2. Phone calling was introduced - that will please the 3% in our Twitter poll! 
  3. Visual responses are now supported and will display on the most suitable device, whether that’s your phone, TV etc. For example, if a user asks Home for directions, a route map will open up on their phone. 
  4. Enhanced entertainment with integration of the likes of Spotify Free

Kotlin: Kotlin and Android get it together…

google IO kotlin.png

(Image source: http://slides.com/pawegio/kotlin-android/embed)

One of the biggest cheers of the night and certainly one of the biggest updates for developers at the event was the announcement that Kotlin is now an official programming language. Having this support from Google will be a huge boost for the language which is still a relative baby at just six years old. Like Java, Android’s default development language, Kotlin runs on JVM (Java Virtual Machine). But unlike Apple and Swift, Kotlin won’t be owned by Google (yet), it will continue to be supported and developed by JetBrains.

As we said at the start of this blog there was so much announced by Google yesterday that we don’t have enough scrolls of your mobile screen to dig deep into everything, but also:

google photos.jpeg

  • Google Photos: Over 500 million active users will now get access to suggested sharing, shared libraries and photo books.
  • Google O: The much anticipated iteration of the Android OS is out in beta from today and during the keynote Google focused around two key themes of the new OS - creating a ‘fluid experience’ and improving ‘vitals’.
  • Android Auto: Will boot up and switch between apps more quickly thanks to tweaks made in Android O. New cars from Volvo and Audi will be powered by Android Auto
  • Android TV: The TV UI is getting a make-over with a new channel-based interface and a big emphasis on content recommendations. Google Assistant will also be available on Android TV later this year.
  • Daydream:  Standalone VR headsets from HTC and Lenovo were announced, which won’t require a phone to operate. Daydream will also be made available on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ later this year.

So what do all these announcements mean for us at Travelport Digital and for the travel industry in general?

How people book and manage travel is changing - bots, VR, AR and AI are shifting the travel landscape more than ever before and these seismic shifts are certainly more in line with Google’s perspective of a AI first world rather than a mobile first one. For us at Travelport Digital our heads are spinning with the amount of use cases we’ve been thinking of since the event… from paying for a flight using only voice to translating foreign airport signs using Google Lens or asking Home what’s the best route to the airport.

OK Google, let’s change travel again.


To find out more about our award-winning mobile and digital solutions, or to book a demo of the leading mobile travel platform visit our solutions page

Phoebe Collison - Digital Insights Analyst

Phoebe has worked at Travelport Digital for 4 years in various Marketing, Product Research and Digital Insights roles. Phoebe’s current role involves keeping pace with new technologies and industry developments, competitor analysis and advising customers on best practise mobile marketing.

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