Yesterday was one of the biggest in the calendar of Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google division. Google I/O 2019 — the company’s annual developer conference — kicked off with today’s keynote.
It’s a big deal for consumers, industry watchers and investors. Some 85% of the company’s revenue comes through advertising, so all the latest software developments designed to keep consumers hooked on Android are important. And the company also announced new hardware, as it continues to work toward diversifying revenue and reducing the dependence of GOOGL stock on advertising.
There was a lot on tap during the duration of the event, but here are five of the big announcements from today’s Google I/O 2019 keynote.
“Next Generation” Google Assistant
Thanks to machine learning, Google Assistant is now up to 10 times faster. Google is referring to the technology as “next generation” and in addition to being faster, it’s getting much better at context and gains a driving mode (coming as a free update this summer).
Also seeing big leaps in capability are other AI-powered Google services including Google Lens, Duplex and Live Transcribe.
Pixel 3a Smartphones
Google’s Pixel smartphones have impressed, especially with their camera capabilities. But they’ve failed to build a significant market share.
To help boost sales, Google is introducing a new pair of mid-range smartphones called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. Starting at $399 ($479 for the 3a XL), these new smartphones are half the price of most flagship devices. They offer a camera experience on par with the Pixel 3, including Night Sight, Portrait Mode and Super Res Zoom and feature OLED displays (and a headphone jack). Google cut costs by using a Snapdragon 670 processor instead of the more expensive Snapdragon 845 in the Pixel 3, using cheaper plastic instead of a glass for the back panel, forgoing wireless charging and skipping water resistance.
The Pixel3a and 3a XL are available starting today.
Google accidentally leaked the Nest Hub Max prior to today’s event, so it seemed likely that new Nest gear was on tap. And yes, the company did announce the Nest Hub Max, a smart speaker with a camera and big 10-inch display.
But the company had a surprise up its sleeve: all Google Home products will be coming under the Nest brand umbrella. Coming late this summer, the Nest Hub Max will be priced at $229, while the original Google Hub (now the Nest Hub) gets a price cut to $129.
Android is the operating system that powers the vast majority of smartphones, and keeping that dominance — which helps to keep that ad revenue flowing through native Google services — is critical to the bottom line, and to the continued growth of Google stock. Today the company showed off features of Android Q (alternately known as Android 10), including support for folding smartphones (like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold), a new dark mode and new navigation gestures.
Also coming to Google users both mobile and PC-based, is a new emphasis on privacy and security, with the option to automatically delete your history in services including Search, Maps and Google Assistant. In addition, Search and Maps will get an incognito mode for private use.
Google I/O 2019: Android Auto
While it was announced shortly before the keynote itself, the update to Android Auto is an important one.
Google has revamped the user interface, with the new version of the software coming this summer. Android Auto’s UI is now adaptable to different screen sizes, which is needed with more auto makers now offering the system in their vehicles. Navigation between apps is improved and Google says more info is now available to drivers at a glance.
That’s it for big news out of Google I/O 2019 today. But there’s another huge tech developer conference less than a month away. Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) WWDC 2019 is coming up in less than a month. Check in with InvestorPlace to learn everything Apple announces, and how it compares to the latest from Google.
As of this writing, the writer held no positions in the aforementioned securities.