Google rolling out arsenal of services, gadgets

Google is expected to give the crowd a look at new twists in its Android software for mobile devices.

The push marks another step toward infusing almost all of Google's products with some semblance of artificial intelligence - the concept of writing software that enables computers to gradually learn to think more like humans.

Google punctuated the theme near the end of the conference's keynote address by projecting the phrase, "Computing that works like we do".

Pichai has made AI the foundation of his strategy since becoming Google's CEO in late 2015, emphasizing that technology is rapidly evolving from a "mobile-first" world, where smartphones steer the services that companies are building, to an "AI-first" world, where the computers supplement the users' brains.

Most of the natural language processing advances, meanwhile, are being put to use on Google Assistant, an AI assistant similar to Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa.

Google believes it can lead the way in AI largely because it has built a big network of data centers with billions of computers scattered around the world. This while people using its dominant internet search engine and leading email service have been feeding the machines valuable pieces of personal information for almost 20 years. And, most interestingly a voice-controlled digital assistant now available on some smartphones may be put up.

With that thought in mind, it's interesting to look at recent data that Technalysis Research collected as part of a almost 1,000-person survey of USA consumers on usage of digital assistants on smartphones, PCs and the hottest new entrant, smart speakers such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Home. Both the iOS App Store and Android's Google Play store have been criticized for making "discoverability" a struggle.

Google Assistant, introduced previous year, is now on more than 100 million devices, according to the team's vice president of engineering, Scott Huffman. Google believes its assistant can get people what they want more quickly because it draws upon the knowledge that the company has accumulated while running the world's most popular search engine. In short, they should be able to make our lives better organized, and our devices and services much easier to use. Google Assistant, which has been a key selling point of Google's own in-house Pixel hardware, is now available on Apple Inc.'s smartphone. Pinterest has a similar tool too.

Android TV is also getting Google Assistant at some unspecified point during 2017, Google said, which means you'll be able to ask your television important questions about what the weather's going to do and which restaurants nearby do a good curry. Over the next few months, Google will roll out new features and partners that will take the battle for home supremacy to the next level. With photos, Lens will be able to look at any picture you've taken and extract information from it: For example, snap a shot of a pretty flower on the street, and Lens will tell you what type of flower it is; take a picture of a skyscraper, and Lens can tell you the name of the building and its visitor information. On-stage, a surfing app was marked as a favorite, so that when you want to find out what the conditions will be in the morning you don't need to specify the app to query, you only have to say "Ok Google, is the surf up?" Facebook has its own version of this feature in its Moments app.

One potentially unsettling new feature in Photos will let you automatically share some or all of your photos with other people.

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