Last week I was lucky to attend Google io for the first time. It would be impossible for me to write down all the awesome things that happened, so here’s a couple of things I learned :-)
This year there were two keynotes, one for product and one for development, although apparently most people joining remotely didn’t know about the second!
My favourite thing they announced were the updates to Google Photos. I can now share everything or photos that contain specific people automatically with people I specify. I can review photos people share with me, and if I like add them to my own library! Gone are the days for manually sharing all the photos of me with my mother!
Another cool thing you will be able to do with Google Photos is remove obstructions, say for example a fence, using machine learning and leave only the important parts of the photo. This will be super useful for my holiday photos of San Francisco as Alamo Square was closed and I got a really ugly fence obstructing my picture of the painted ladies!
Soon Google Photos will be able to remove this ugly fence from my holiday photo!
Google Lens was also announced, which when launched will literally feel like magic! It will be able to look into what your pointing your camera at and tell you more, hopefully relevant, information. Point it at a shop and it’ll be able to tell you more information about the shop such as opening times or whats on the menu. Point it at a plant or animal and it’ll be able to tell you exactly what it is. Point it at something written in a foreign language and it can convert it to your native language. Magic!
Another final thing I thought pretty neat was a program called Google for Jobs. Which soon will be great place to search for jobs by title, industry, or even the commute time! Hopefully making it easier for everyone to find their next best job!
2. Android Architecture Components
Google announced a bunch of really awesome public opinions (not strict guidelines) on how best to architect Android applcations. With this they’ve also released a bunch of new frameworks to help with the activity (and fragment) lifecycles inluding the LifecycleObserver, LiveData, and ViewModel. They also launched their own wrapper to make saving to an SQLite database much easier called Room. If you’re interested in learning more about these things check out the great resources over at https://developer.android.com/topic/libraries/architecture/index.html
Another really great thing Google announced for us Android developers is their support for Kotlin, which is very similar to Apple’s Swift. Many people have already been using Kotlin in production, but Google’s official support behind the language will hopefully allow more teams and apps to be able to adopt the language! Christina Lee and Jake Wharton rounded of the final day talking about how to get started, including how to persuade team members and managers that the move will be fine and definitely worth the watch!
Christina Lee and Jake Wharton reasuring us that Life is great and everything will be ok, Kotlin is here!
A talk that I found super interesting was around colour, and why colours don’t always look the same from computer screen to device. There were many take aways from this talk one of which was around the different colour profiles used (you may have heard of sRGB if you’ve ever tried to get digital photos printed in real life) and the difficulty in translating or converting between profiles. In addition there is a thing called the white point — and how that influences how colours actually get converted between colour profiles.
5. Android Studio
Enjoying the sunshine on the lawn, another great talk I sat through was about all the new things being introduced in Android Studio. One of my favourites is the ability to automatically log bug reports which include the steps to reproduce (yay!).
Another important talk I attended was in regards to accessibility and designing for the next billion users. The main point being something around 80% of the next billion people to connect to the internet will have some kind of disability. If we can build our things with that in mind now, we will be able to support these people much better when they come online.
There’s nothing wrong with the blurryness levels in my Pixel phone. The opening slide was supposed to indicate how someone a vision impaired individual might see the slides from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38fbB8wCPzg
7. Google Assistant
I already owned a Google Home before io, but I was only allowed to buy one on the pretense I actually built something for it. So I absolutely went to a couple of sessions on the Google Assistant.
The first talk I went to was about home automation. There was discussion about nobody wants a lightbulb that asks too many questions. Which is an interesting point I hadn’t considered previously. When setting up a new device we just want it to work, we don’t want to have to fill out a million pieces of information to get everything working!
The second talk I went to was around error handling and how do we handle error states in conversation. The topic became more philosophical by raising what even is an error; in one application it might seem like an error state to say you give up, but if you have a trivia application that simply means you want the answer and to continue playing!
The final thing in regards to the Google Assistant I learned was their cocktail mixer (alcohol free). Where for the cost of only a few hundred dollars, you too could have a cocktail mixing robot in your household!
8. Chrome Dev Tools
I might be an Android dev, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show an active interest in other areas too! I sat in a great talk by Paul Irish early on Friday morning whilst eating my breakfast in regards to all the awesome new things Google Chrome can do to help developers build web apps (and nodejs scripts!).
One of the things that struck me as super useful is the ability to set debug breakpoints and step through your code, which even works if you’re writing nodejs! Soon a small little button will appear in the chrome dev pannel to help you!
the magic nodejs button in chrome!
9. The Place
Google io isn’t just about the sessions, they also have many different things happening around the campus!
There were a bunch of different domes dotted around, with things in such as VR & AR, Android Things, Accessibility, and Design etc. One of my favourite domes contained the 2017 Experiments Challenge Contest winners. Of which Anastasia and I were very good at the quick draw game pictured below (we almost got the new highest scores)!
Pro tip — draw quickly as much for it to guess, which apparently means your sheep does not have to have 4 legs as would have been traditional.
Aside from the domes, there were also many things around to interact with. We found scanning a QR code opened up a whole new pokémon style game polymon to play. There were also places to write and send postcards which claimed Google would cover postage— assuming Google fork out for international shipping, my parents will still think I love them!
Google also put on an impressive amount of entertainment for the evenings also. The first night had so many different stands and things to see; such as ballroom which wasn’t as fancy as expected but instead a room full of play balls; a pizza party which had hilariously underestimated the demand of developers for pizza; and an arcade with many lasers and flashing lights. It was a shame I was suffering majorly from jetlag that night I couldn’t fully enjoy it all!
The second night was a proper gig with the music by LCD Soundsystem. We got there super early and managed to bag ourselves some seats right up front and covered our faces in glitter to enjoy the evening!
10. The People
The final really awesome thing about IO is all the great people I got to see again, or meet for the very first time :)
Google io 17 was truely incredible! I’m massively thankful to both Women Techmakers and comparethemarket.com for contributing towards my ticket so that I could attend, and to Google for putting on such an amazing event. I’ve left feeling like I can change the world again!