Google’s 2022 I/O Conference is finally here. From virtual maps that come to life to a new way to communicate with your home security system, there’s a lot of unexpected surprises from the keynote to unpack. Here are some of the highlights.
One of the weirder new features Google announced this year involves Nest Hub Max. The feature, called “Look and Talk,” allows you to initiate a conversation with your Nest simply by looking at it. This means you won’t have to quip “Hey Google” for it to start paying attention to you. No, instead, you’ll just have to fix your home security display with a steely-eyed gaze, after which it will recognize you want something and you can start hurling demands at it.
The whole thing is powered by Google’s Face Match and Voice Match features, which will have to be enabled for it to work. This feature is opt-in, and Google has been sure to note that “video from these interactions is processed entirely on-device, so it isn’t shared with Google or anyone else”—a fact that makes the whole thing vaguely less creepy.
So, uh, yeah...seduce your house robot with your eyes and bewitch it into following your every command. That’s definitely not weird or anything.
In what will probably be the most popular new feature announced today, Google is launching an “immersive view” for Maps. This new enhanced “view” leverages cutting edge graphics to put you inside life-like simulations of cities you want to visit. So, unlike Street View—which relies on real images—the “immersive” view basically transforms the local terrain into a remotely perusable Skyrim level. If you want to assess what the interior of a local restaurant in London looks like, just to “check the vibe,” you can do that. The digital detail is supposed to allow you to “feel like you’re right there before you ever set foot inside.”
“Whether you’re traveling somewhere new or scoping out hidden local gems, immersive view will help you make the most informed decisions before you go,” Google claims. The new feature will be rolling out in select cities later this year, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Tokyo. More cities are supposed to be added to the list soon. This kind of reminds us of how Microsoft Flight Simulator uses Bing map data to build realistic models of cities and other environments, but not locked to a video game.
Slow readers and slackers of the world rejoice! Google is launching a new feature for Workspace that will provide automated summaries of Google Docs so you don’t have to slog through especially long reads. You might call it the TL; DR feature. The new tool is powered by AI and machine learning and has the power to shrink a 25-page report down to a digestible summary, Pichai claimed during the feature’s presentation. The feature will eventually be rolled out for other products in Workspace as well, he said. This is good news for you and potentially bad news for Gizmodo writers, whose jobs will probably soon be replaced by an algorithm.
Google says that you can now search for makeup by filtering for skin tone. The new feature will leverage what is known as the Monk Skin Tone Scale, a tool developed by Ellis Monk, an associate professor of Sociology at Harvard University, that was designed to provide “a broader spectrum of skin tones that can be leveraged to evaluate datasets and ML [machine learning] models for better representation.” Google says that it will make this technology open source, so that other companies can use it or adapt it for their own purposes. Google’s also working on applying lessons learned in this research to its photo apps.
Hello, ciao, nǐ hǎo! You’ll soon be able to greet people on the web in a whole lot more ways than that. Google recently added 24 new languages to Google Translate, bringing words spoken by millions of people around the world into the fold. Before today, the company’s feature only worked with 109 languages; today’s additions bump the total up to 133.
The new languages include: Assamese, Aymara, Bambara, Bhojpuri, Dhivehi, Dogri, Ewe, Guarani, Ilocano, Konkani, Krio, Kurdish (Shoran), Lingala, Luganda, Maithili, Meiteilon (Manipuri), Mizo, Oromo, Quechua, Sanskrit, Sepedi, Tigrinya, Tsonga, and Twi.