Google I/O 2019 provided lots of news and updates that caused quite a stir in the world of SEO, creating lots of discussion points about product enhancements and new technology. These updates are driving progression in the way people search, right through to AR developments that are reshaping the future. We’ve pulled together some of the key highlights from Google I/O 2019 and have split it out into four key themes: voice, image search, accessibility and augmented reality (AR).
1. The New Generation of Google Assistants: By streamlining the artificial intelligence (AI) that Google assistant uses to process voice commands, Google is now able to lower the latency and lag between voice request and the task being actually carried out, making it 10 times faster – what they now call ‘real time’. Multiple requests made will now be activated instantaneously, with the bonus of not having to say, “OK Google!” every single time. A demo showed the instant triggering of tasks, such as, a reply to a message, opening of an app and sending photos. A 'keyboardless' future now seems that much closer!
2. Project Euphonia: Enhancing Accessibility for the Visually Impaired: Google’s emphasis on voice and accessibility was furthered with this project designed to let Google Assistant’s voice recognition understand those with speech impairments. Project Euphonia will help personalise speech recognition and other non-verbal modes of communication for those with impairments of any kind. Google provided demonstrations on a personalised voice recognition model for a person with slurred speech who was also deaf, and for those who need to type using their eye movements on a screen. This will make communication possible via Google Assistant, but for the level of personalisation that they want to achieve, Google still need the support from the community for speech recordings so they can tailor voice recognition by understanding the specifics of the different disabilities.
3. Live Captioning of Audios and Video: Whether you’re watching a video on your app, the web or even chatting with your pals via video, Google will now soon be adding video subtitles to what is being said on screen, starting on Android devices. This ties in with their Project Euphonia to further cater to the needs of people who are deaf or are hard of hearing. This is also a bonus for those who watch videos in public and will be still able to understand what’s been said on screen without disturbing those around them!
4. Google Lens Update: The cloud of the doubt over the usability of Google Lens is slowly lifting with updates announced to make it far more useful outdoors. By being able to contextualise what is in the line of vision, say on even a piece of paper, Google Lens will be able to provide information on a specific product – say item on a menu – what it looks like, how much it costs, and in this instance, when the dreaded bill arrives, being able to bring up a calculator and divide the costs too – especially for those who struggle with numbers when the food coma kicks in!
5. 3D Images Directly on Search Results and a Revamp of Image Search: One of Google’s key focuses was on how search results are going to be highly visual with AR images being available directly on results. This was demonstrated by Google showing a student who is searching for a muscle in the human body, and search results on a mobile displaying a 3D image of the body part which could also be played around with within the results page. These images can also be seen in real life scale, whether it be a human hand or that tropical bird you saw on Planet Earth two days ago. Making the SERPs interactive keeps users much longer on the search engine results and keeps one guessing of the furtherance towards no results searches. This comes in addition to the ability to swipe up to navigate from AMP pages and a high-resolution image opt-in programme through Search Console.
6. Google Rendering Pages on the Latest Chrome Browser (at last): Previously Google has always run an old version of Chrome (Chrome 41) to render pages for search. Announcing that the rendering engine will now be continuously updated with the latest version of Chrome, comes as music to our ears. This “evergreen” update was said to have been tested for a few months and is still being closely monitored while Google awaits the update for its user agent, which remains in the pipeline for a later date.
7. An Upcoming Version of Duplex, Google’s AI Assistant, on the Web: With a flashy demo of how an AI assistant can look up your calendar and make a reservation for you for your car booking or hotel reservation, Google’s Sundar Pichai presented the latest version of Duplex, which expands their current offering beyond phone and voice. With Duplex filling up on personal information for bookings online, the headache of any form filling will become a walk in the park. By using the feedback from businesses and users, Google will be making further changes and tweaks towards the end of 2019, so we’re likely to hear more on this soon!
While complicated technologies are making our lives simpler, accessibility and adaptability are becoming key drivers in the ever-changing world of the web, with Google in the forefront of it. Those that harness the power of these changes will transform the experiences for their users while continuously evolving and contributing to making the web a better place at the same time.