Tuesday, 25 July, 2017

Some of Google's new features seem ... familiar

Bessie Robbins | 19 May, 2017, 00:29

Google has detailed a list of features that its new Android O operating system will boast and while there's not much ground being broken, the operating system does improve on many Android quirks.

For now, Lens is only available via Google Assistant and Google Photos, but Google said it plans to introduce it on other platforms in the future.

For example, pointing a smartphone's camera at a flower would allow Google Lens to identify it and provide information on it.

In addition to new features for Google Home, including hands-free calling to phones, proactive assistance, shortcuts and more, Google also announced at its I/O developers conference that the device will soon be available in more countries. If you tap on a name, street address, or phone number, it will also automatically display a suggested app, such as Contacts, or Google Maps. So Android O will include so-called "wise limits" that will monitor the amount of energy and power that each app is using, and limit an app's access to those resources if it is hogging them.

"Almost 70 per cent of requests to Google Assistant are expressed in natural language, not the typical keyboards which people type in a search box, and many requests are follow ups that continue the conversation". We're guessing hundreds of millions but at this week's Google I/O Conference, the tech giant announced that there are already two billion monthly active devices.

Google Assistant will now support more than 70 smart home partners like TP-Link, Honeywell, Logitech, GE Appliances, and LG.

"We are really starting to crack the hard computer challenge of conversationality", Huffman said.

Google Photos is adding a new tool that will prompt you to share photos you take of people you know. Facebook has its own version of this feature in its Moments app.

As for the quirks, Google has said that Android O will feature something called smart text selection. While devices are undoubtedly still important, priorities seem to be on making sure that consumers using any device will be able to use Google services.

Many of Google's products are vying against similar offerings from Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. Google Photos will figure out which of your snapshots are best for sharing, and it will use facial recognition to figure who should get those photos.

With the new Google Home calling feature, users will be able to make phone calls in the USA and Canada for free, but won't be able to call other Home devices.

AP technology reporter Tali Arbel contributed from NY.

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