Google’s yearly developer conference started yesterday, and the keynote was chock-full of announcements, demos, and some utterly mind-blowing tech. From Assistant to Android, here’s some of the best stuff to come out of I/O 2019 so far.
Pixel 3a and 3a XL: As expected, Google officially unveiled the long-rumored and more affordable Pixel 3a lineup. Just like the more expensive Pixel 3, it comes in two sizes, the $399 5.6-inch 3a, and the $479 6-inch 3a XL. They’re both very much Pixel phones, with a lot of the same features as their more expensive brothers. Android Police has an excellent comparison of the 3 and 3a if you’re interested, or you can take a look for yourself on the Google Store.
More Android Q goodies: While Android Q beta builds have been available on Pixel phones for a few weeks, Google highlighted some new features that we haven’t seen yet. For the first time, a long-awaited Dark Theme will be available starting in Q Beta 3, along with Focus Mode, improved gestures (they’re just like iOS now), and so much more. While features are nice, there’s another highlight in Q that can’t go without mentioning: privacy and security. Google said that is the focus for this release, and it’s backing that up with Project Mainline to bring more security updates to more phones.
Assistant and voice control: The most impressive demos to come out of yesterday’s keynote all revolved around Assistant and voice control. Google is doing some mind-blowing stuff in this space. First of all, the next generation Assistant will be ten times faster than the current gen, because the language model has been compressed to a measly 100 MB and will be stored and processed on-device. Not only does this mean it’s insanely fast, but significantly more private, as well.
But it’s clear Google has been working overtime when it comes to training voice models because the voice recognition demo was easily the most inspiring thing that I saw yesterday. A new initiative called Project Euphonia looks to help users with speech impairments better communicate through voice transcription. The video demo is nothing short of unreal. Give it a watch—it’s incredible.
That’s just a small number of things that were announced and shown yesterday, but it’s a quick look at some of the coolest things.
Otherwise, Ryan Reynolds leaked the entire Detective Pikachu movie, there’s a new one-ring robocall scam you should watch out for, Apex Legends is coming to mobile, and more.
- Detective Pikachu is online…thanks to Ryan Reynolds: Yesterday, Ryan Reynolds retweeted an account that shared the entire Detective Pikachu movie on YouTube. It’s a pretty obvious plant and a brilliant marketing move. But yeah, you can watch the full flick online if you want. [CNET]
- The one-ring robocall is coming for you: There’s a new robocall method that doesn’t count on you answering the phone, but instead on you calling the number. You’ll get several calls that last just one ring each in hopes that you’ll get curious and return the call. And when you do, you’ll incur massive charges—like calling a 900 number. It’s pretty clever, and I hate it. [Gizmodo]
- Apex Legends is coming to mobile: Mobile is the new battleground for games like Fortnite and PUBG, and EA wants in on the action. Apex Legends will be coming to Android and iOS…at some point. [Engadget]
- Speaking of Fortnite, it’s a cesspool: Fortnite is free to play but makes money by selling skins. And if you play without buying those skins, you’re subject to getting bullied and harassed by other players. This is “forcing” kids who play to spend money to avoid catching flak from other gamers. Pathetic. [Polygon]
- Hackers jacked a ton of Bitcoin: 7,000 Bitcoin were stolen from crypto exchange Binance. That’s upwards of 40 million dollars. [Coindesk]
In other fresh Google-y news, all Chromebooks released this year will be Linux-ready. These apps have added a ton of utility to Google’s computer OS, and it’s nice to see it expand to the full gamut of Chromebooks. It’s another step towards making Chrome OS a more full-featured, robust operating system. Excellent. [OMG Ubuntu]