Google I/O 2019 Keynote: The 6 Biggest Announcements That Matter

The annual Google Developer Keynote 2019 returned to the Shoreline Amphitheatre in California for the fourth year running. The event typically brings about new updates to the Google ecosystem, but this year’s event had new announcements for the Google hardware as well.

Here are the key announcements from the event:

1. Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL

Google I/O Pixel 3a

Joining Google’s Pixel smartphone series, the launch of the Google Pixel 3a and Google Pixel 3a XL was one of the key highlights of this year’s I/O conference.

Priced lower than the Google’s Pixel 3 series at SGD $659 and $779 for the 5.6 and 6-inch sizes respectively, the Pixel 3a devices will retain key features from the Pixel 3, while adding new, award-winning features like keeping the good old 3.5mm audio jack and including Augmented Reality (AR) in Google Maps for real-time navigation. However, the Pixel 3a series will house an older processor and will not have wireless charging unlike the Pixel 3.

Google Pixel 3a: Black

The Pixel 3a smartphones are available for purchase now in the Google Store and come in two colours: Just Black and Clearly White.

2. Google Nest

Google I/O Nest Hub

The Google Home line of products will now be realigned to be featured as Google Nest going forward. To facilitate this change, the Google Home Hub will be renamed the Google Nest Hub. The Nest Hub will be joined by a new addition to the family: Nest Hub Max.

The Nest Hub Max is an upgraded version of the Nest Hub with an in-built camera that has facial recognition technology to allow for personalised notifications. The Nest Hub Max will roll out in the United States first at USD $229, while the Nest Hub will launch in 12 new countries including Singapore at a lowered price of USD $129 (SGD $176.50).

3. Android Q

Google I/O Android Q

Android Q is the newest iteration of Android’s operating system that is set to come out later this year. New features featured in Q include several security improvements as well as the addition of dark mode for phones to increase battery life. Dark mode itself isn’t new as some phones have OS that has the feature, but the one coming with Android Q may extend the mode to other apps which support it.

Another new feature is the introduction of Focus mode, which allows you to disable specific apps that distract you so that you can focus better on tasks. New time-specific limits on apps are also available.

The OS is also optimised for the new innovative folding phones like the recent Samsung Galaxy Fold. Those who want to experience these new changes can enter the Android Q beta right here:

4. Google Lens

Google I/O Lens

Introducing new features for Google Lens, users will be able to view a product in the real world with AR technology. For example, if you fancy a shoe that you’ve searched for on your phone, Google can now also render that shoe in 3D space so that you can view it at any angle and see if it fits your clothes.

Google Lens can also pick out the most popular dish from a restaurant menu, showing you images of the dish and also customer comments. After you’ve finished your meal, Google Lens can help calculate the splitting of the bill and tips.

Other features include voice playback when you take a picture. If you take a picture of a notice, Google Lens will do a voice playback for you. This works as well for languages you do not understand, as the technology will translate the text for you and overlay your language onto the picture.

5. Google Assistant Improvements

Google I/O Assistant

All-new Google Assistant improvements have been made so that you can make multiple requests at lightning-fast speed without the need to also say “Hey Google”.

Additionally, Google announced a new driving mode designed specifically to help drivers view their activities with more ease. It features a unique dashboard with personalised notifications from the user’s Google account.

6. Live Captions

Google I/O Live Captions

Captions can be enabled for any video that you are watching. There will be a new button featured below the volume settings that toggle captions that subtitles words for people in crowded places or those who are hard of hearing. The captions themselves do not need an internet connection to work.  

To find out more about the Google Developer Keynote 2019 round-up, visit the Google blog at:

Visuals courtesy of Google

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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