Google I/O 2016 recap: Android Wear 2.0, Allo and Duo, Google Home, Daydream, and more

Google’s I/O developer conference keynote has come and gone, revealing the internet titan has more than just a few slick tricks up its sleeve. Highlights from the massively well-attended event include the announcement of a VR program Google has developed called Daydream.

The company is looking to move beyond cardboard by working with manufacturers like Samsung and HTC to build smartphones designed to excel at VR. Google also showed off prototypes of a new set of VR goggles as well as a Wii-type motion controller. Google has already partnered with some big names like HBO, Netflix, Hulu, and CNN which will design Android apps specifically for the VR platform, and we’re sure there will be many more come launch time this fall.

Google is also taking on Amazon’s Echo speaker and digital assistant, Alexa, with a smart speaker of its own. There are a number of similarities between the two —  you’ll be able to get sports scores, set alarms, play music, of course, and much more — but Google’s smart speaker will be able to communicate with the company’s Chromecast devices, allowing users to call up content and have it distributed to speakers throughout the house, or broadcast it up on a TV.

In wearables, Android Wear 2.0 has also gotten a face-lift, and beyond the new look and feel, its essentially improved versions of all the same stuff Android Wear offered before. There’s nothing revolutionary here, but it does push smartwatches forward a little bit, which have struggled to catch on since they were introduced a couple of years ago.

And, finally, Android N – which Google is allowing the public to help name this time around – sports some interesting new features, including Allo and Duo, two new communication apps. Hey what happened to Hangouts? Anyway, Allo is an AI-powered encrypted messaging app that uses Google’s Assistant platform to help you with pretty much anything and everything.

The AI pays attention to your conversation and offers smart replies based on whatever you are talking about. It can recommend restaurants and movies, suggest driving directions, and more, all based on your conversation. It’s also got a whisper/shout feature to emphasize your messages, and there’s an incognito mode, if you want some extra security during conversations.

Related: Well that’s not creepy: Google Duo lets you peep at callers before you answer

Duo, on the other hand, is a Facetime-competitor that offers a more personalized one-to-one video calling experience. It’s biggest (and kind of creepiest) highlight, apart from being speedier than Hangouts, is that you can see a preview of the people calling you before you answer. It will also work for folks who have poor connections or just straight-up slow internet speeds, making video calling available to nearly anyone with a smartphone.

That’s our Google I/O wrap-up and DT Daily for today; we’ll see you back here tomorrow!

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