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What we learned at Google I/O this year

With Google I/O 2016 drawing to an end, we’ve seen the big announcements Google has made on how it’ll change the tech world – and Android – for the next year. But what did we learn exactly? From virtual reality, to chatbots, and some news about Android N, here’s what we learned at Google I/O this year.

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These were some of the biggest announcements at I/O this year. / © Google

Android N and VR

Android N is set to be a worthy evolution in the lineage of Android releases. With new features like Seamless Updates promising a better overall experience with Android in the future, the Android N announcements at Google I/O this year, particularly during the keynote, were still somewhat underwhelming. With the release of the first Developer Preview already two months behind us, there really wasn’t anything groundbreaking for Google to mention.

But what was interesting was how Android N will offer ‘Daydream’, a VR platform. This will allow developers and hardware manufacturers to get in on the VR game with all the benefits Android has to offer. The possibilities here could be huge. Just imagine carrying around a smartphone that can double as a portable VR gaming gadget that syncs with a headset and remote. This could, and probably will, have a huge effect on mobile gaming.

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The VR home screen Android will soon use. / © Google

The big news: Google chatbots

Google is set to release a new messaging app called Allo. It has several cool features, but the most interesting is the chatbot that you can interact with as if it was one of your own contacts. This will allow you to ask questions you might normally leave a messaging app to visit Google Search for.

But the burning question about Allo, and to a lesser extend of Duo, the video calling companion app it comes with, is – do we really need this? Convincing those of us who already use apps like Facebook Messenger and Telegram, which already have chatbots built in, to switch over to a new app that our friends and family aren’t even using will be the big challenge for Allo.

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Google's Allo could shake things up. / © ANDROIDPIT

Google Home: a new family member

Just as assistive technologies that we’re seeing in apps like Allo and, outside of Google, with smart devices like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home promises to set a new benchmark for how Google technology can make our lives easier. This pod-like device sits will sit in your home and work off your voice commands, serving up contextually-relevant information to take some of the work out of organizing your life.

With so much of our lives already plugged into Google services, it’s easy to see how this product could be a big part of the company’s evolution to offer more proactive information to us in the future, rather than simply a huge repository that we can search through. And like Allo, whether this translates into a useful end-user experience, we’ll have to wait and see.

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This is how Google Home will look. / © Google

What were your highlights of Google I/O 2016? Was there something that stood out for you? Let us know in the comments.

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