Week in a Nutshell #20

Google I/O

Official Google Blog: Picture this: A fresh approach to Photos

Smartphones make it extremely easy to take photos and share it with friends and family. This led us taking hundreds of photos and storing mostly all of them. We don't even look back at maybe more than half of them. However, a time comes when you want to show a really nice photo you took awhile ago to your friend but you end up scrolling up and down across the 12,456 photos you have in your photo stream but not finding the right one.

Google Photos aim to solve this problem. Google Photos wants to become your hub for all your photos and videos. You can upload photos up to 16MP quality in their original resolution and videos up to 1080p quality. You would never have to worry about data storage limitation because Google Apps provides unlimited storage for photos and videos for free.

Google Photos automatically filters, tags and categorization all the uploaded photos and videos based on their date, time, location, people and context. Let's say if you can't remember when you took that specific photo, then you can easily navigate through the photos based on its location or you can even search based on the context of the photo using keywords such as beach, park or dogs. This type of tagging and categorization normally requires you to take action manually which is a very time consuming task. Google Photos can do it for you automatically.

Google Photos also has an editing assistant that automatically suggests to create albums, stories, videos or even collages for those like me who don't have the time (or maybe the creativity).

Bradley Horowitz says Google Photos is Gmail for your images and I couldn't agree more with the vision.


Google Jump is an entire ecosystem for virtual reality filmmaking

Google Cardboard was announced in last year's Google I/O conference and it allows you to experience virtually reality using your smartphone and basically a folded cardboard. Its beauty is hidden in its simplicity. It partially solves the virtual reality enabled hardware problem. But the second big problem is there are not many virtual reality enabled content out there. It looks like Cardboard team has been working so hard since last year's I/O conference because they also announced fantastic products in this year's I/O conference aiming to solve that problem.

Announced in this year's I/O, Google Jump aims to provide a 3-step solution for virtual reality enabled content creation (both recording and assembling) and distribution. Google partnered with GoPro to create a camera rig that has 16 GoPro cameras that can record 360 degree spatial video footage. Once this footage is recorded, you can use Google Jump video assembler platform to assemble all these 16 different video footages into one single 360 degree spatial, virtual reality enabled video. Google handles the pixel perfect assembly of these videos on the cloud so you don't have to worry about the computing power of your laptop. At this point, you passed the first two steps of recording and creating the virtual reality enabled content and next big question is how you are going to distribute this content. YouTube comes into play to solve the distribution problem. YouTube will start supporting hosting and the playback of virtual reality enabled content created with Jump. Now, you are ready and your content can reach millions of YouTube users.

I cannot wait to see how the film industry and independent directors will use this type of content in the near future.


HBO Now is coming to Android and Chromecast this summer

HBO Now was launched exclusive to iOS devices in couple of months ago during an Apple event. It did not take HBO too long and HBO Now for Android was also announced during the Google I/O conference.

This is great news for those Android users like me who follow HBO series. I'm looking forward to use my Chromecast to cast the second season of True Detective on my TV.


Google Now gets smarter with 'Now on Tap' and ability to work inside apps

We can think of Google Now as the smart personal assistant that provides the most relevant information to you at the right time and context. This fantastic product is getting even better with the addition of a new functionality called "Now on Tap".

"Now on Tap" will allow users to have access to context relevant information provided by Google Now without even leaving the application that they are actively viewing. For example, if you are in Spotify and you'd like to get more information about the artist or the song, basically you can either use the 'Ok Google' voice command or long press on the home button to trigger the Google Now functionality. "Now on Tap" will bring the information to the users within the active view and remove the friction of users switching between apps to search for information. 

This is a great feature for Android users like me who hates switching apps.


Google announces Brillo, an operating system for the Internet of Things

Brillo is another highlight of Google I/O conference. Brillo is positioned as the operating system for the "internet of things" and it is based on the core, kernel level of Android. I believe Brillo will play an important role in making everyday devices and objects we use get smarter.

I really liked the example that Sundar Pichai has shared during his keynote so I want to share it here. Let's imagine that you are reading a recipe on your smartphone and it says that you need to preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. With the click of a button or a voice command in the recipe app, your Brillo-enabled oven can be turned on automatically. Basically, Brillo can enable two everyday object communicating with each other without us acting as the messenger.


Official Android Blog: Pay your way with Android

Android Pay, Android's response to Apple Pay, was also announced at the I/O. I always thought Google Wallet was going to be the norm in the mobile payment systems market when it was first launched couple of years ago. However, it is not guaranteed that the first entrant in the market will always win in this sector. Google Wallet couldn't get pass the adoption threshold back then and I think timing of that advanced technology was not right. 

Apple Pay has not reinvented the wheel in the mobile payment systems market but they have the right technology and the go to market strategy at the right time. Alignment of these three is crucial.


Google Opens Inbox To All, Adds Smart Reminders, Trip Bundles, Undo Send And More 

Google Inbox used to be an invite-only platform up until the I/O conference but now it is open to everyone. I've been using it since day 1 and I can easily say that using Inbox has increased my email and work productivity.

I believe Inbox and Gmail has different mentalities. I consider Gmail as the hub for your emails. On the other hand, each email feels like a "to-do item" or "task" for me in Inbox. I think product design and user experience of Inbox clearly contributes to that "Inbox for your to-dos" type of feeling. Therefore, Inbox encourages me to take quick actions for each item (mostly emails and reminders) and clear out my Inbox quickly. I'm a huge fan of having zero emails in my Inbox.

Transition from Gmail to Inbox was a bit hard at the beginning due to this mentality change. I was used to having an inbox structure, labels, filters and workflow logic in Gmail but I decided to make Inbox as my primary email client thanks to my increased email productivity after spending couple of weeks using Inbox. I highly suggest you to give it a try by taking baby steps and maybe starting with the Inbox mobile app first.

We came to the end of the twentieth episode of ‘Week in a Nutshell’ series. If you enjoyed this post, I'd be happy if you could comment, share, like and/or recommend it.