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A few days back Google held their annual I/O conference aimed at bringing developers together and sharing the company’s plans for the year ahead. With the three-day event now over, it is clear that the focus this year was on Accessibility and Convenience. From the launch of the new Pixel 3A & 3A XL to Live Captions, here are some of the exciting announcements revealed at Google I/O 2019.

Android Q Beta: New Features

The beta for the latest Android Q is now available to download. Packed with new features that are aimed at saving battery life and offering more control to parents, the build features the all-new ‘Dark Mode’ which essentially applies the Dark theme to any application. Images reveal the theme to be true black which will help limit battery consumption when on the go.

Remember a Google app called ‘Reply’? It will now be functional in any third party messaging app instead of being just a standalone. Smart replies will now be built in which also allows the Google Assistant to suggest commute points in G Maps when chatting with someone.

Another new feature called ‘Focus Mode’ is being added which will help you selectively tune down applications so they may not bother you for a period of time. You will also be able to link accounts which will give parents greater control over what applications their children access.

The Pixel 3A & 3A XL – The almost affordable smartphones

One of the most exciting launches this year was also the new line of ‘Affordable’ yet premium smartphones by Google: The Pixel 3A & XL. This new series packs all the good features of its older brother like almost the same camera with Google’s ‘Night Sight’ which has been rated the highest in any smartphone, a 1080P LED display and light build quality although with bezels.

Both the phones feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor with 4GB Ram & 64GB memory with no expandable storage. Pixel 3A XL has a bigger screen (6.0” displayed compared to 3A’s 5.6”) and a 3700 mAh battery (Pixel 3A has 3000).  

However, areas where Google has cut corners, is the Plastic build body (Polycarbonate), slower hardware and Google photos where you can only upload in high quality compared to a full resolution in the original Pixel 3.

A big downside though is the pricing. The Pixel 3A is priced at $399 with the 3XL version starting at $479. However, in India, the price jumps up to 39,999 & 44,999 INR which is considerably more expensive compared to the overseas version. The reason for this? We can only guess it is the shipping prices, taxes or whatnot.  

If you’re looking for a phone which has a killer camera, a beautiful screen and battery life, go for the new 3A series by all means. However, be prepared for the 3A to be a bit slower than its bigger brother.

More power to Google Lens

 Google Lens is set to gain more functionality with it now being able to read restaurant menus and coordinate directly with Google Maps for ratings and possible suggestions. Lens will soon be able to show how a dish will look like before you have ordered it. That paired with its ability to split a bill evenly after scanning it, you got yourself a powerful catering companion.

Credit: Google I/O

Magazines are also set to come to life with the Lens making food mags like ‘Bon Appetit Magazine’ more immersive in the near future. As Aparna Chennapragada said in the event “Seeing is often understanding.”

Google Duplex & Assistant

Google’s ambitious project which will now automate even more tasks for you is set to release in ‘new Pixel phones later in this year’ or at least that’s how the event put it. In addition to making a call on your behalf, Google Duplex will now be able to book you a cab for your ride and even confirm your hotel reservation or movie tickets while collaborating with the Google Assistant.

Credit: Google I/O

The Assistant is also becoming faster than ever with the AI now pulling off multiple tasks in a matter of seconds. However, all this surely brings some privacy concerns as putting too much power in your software’s hands can be harmful. Fortunately, Google acknowledged this and will allow you to limit the Assistant’s power through certain keywords and settings.

Augmented Reality to search

Users will now be able to view 3D models of things they are searching.  Search keywords will be initially limited to things like an animal or human anatomy but are expected to go up as time passes. The number of the initial 3D models are unclear at this point.

Demonstrating this at the IO event, Aparna took the example of being a student and wanting to see a muscle in the human body and showed how easy it will be to put the experience in your own space through the camera.

Credit: Google I/O

Combining Augmented Reality with search is an ambitious take and one which will allow a seamless experience for the user. Being able to see the thing in an immersive environment that you are searching for will surely be a new experience.

Live Captions to any video

Last but definitely not the least, you will soon be able to see subtitles to any video that you view whether it is online or offline. Live captions will help people who are deaf or hard of hearing understand what is being said in videos on YouTube, their device or even a Skype/phone call.

Credit: Google I/O

The feature will also come in handy for people on the go viewing videos without sound.

The Google I/O event this year tells of an exciting time to come. 2019 just might be the year where Google outdoes everyone else. P.S – If you were wondering what watch Sundar Pichai wore to the event it was a Fossil Sport.

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