Artificial Intelligence

Google I/O sees company double down on AI

15th May 2024
Harry Fowle
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Hot on the heels of OpenAI’s GPT-4o announcement, Google I/O delivered news on the company’s efforts to double down on its AI development and offerings.

As many in the industry speculated, Google I/O’s focus was almost entirely software and AI, with Gemini news and Android updates taking centre stage. Unlike previous years, this event saw no hardware announcements or even teasers, despite some expectations for a glimpse at the Pixel 9 series or Pixel Fold 2.

The biggest announcements of Google I/O

Project Astra

Google unveiled Project Astra, its AI assistant of the future, which leverages phone video and voice recognition to deliver contextual responses. Demonstrations showcased the AI solving coding problems using a phone camera and even locating misplaced glasses.

Google I/O 2024 showcased an impressive demo of Project Astra, an AI assistant that understands and responds to the world like humans. Coming to phones first as Gemini Live, Astra leverages Google's Gemini model and task-specific models to process video and speech input continuously, enabling natural conversation without lag.

With the potential for various form factors in the future, Astra's demo highlighted its ability to understand and respond to context, remembering what it sees and hears. The demo involved a person holding an Android phone with the camera active, asking questions and receiving seamless responses from Astra, demonstrating strong spatial understanding and video processing capabilities.

Google Workspace

Google is expanding Gemini's capabilities to popular services like Gmail, where it can summarise long email threads and provide more contextual smart replies by analysing conversations. Additionally, a new Workspace feature called AI Teammate introduces an AI bot into multi-user spaces, simulating a co-worker that can autonomously manage tasks such as finances and scheduling.

Expanding Android with AI

Google announced a plethora of new updates to its Android platform, enhancing it with new AI features.

Notably, Circle to Search, an AI tool initially exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Pixel 8, is expanding its capabilities to comprehend intricate formulas, diagrams, and graphs. This expansion aims to assist students in solving complex math and physics problems, making the tool accessible on a wider range of devices.

Furthermore, Google is harnessing the power of AI to enhance accessibility features like TalkBack. By integrating Gemini Nano, an on-device LLM which is getting a boost of its own, TalkBack can now provide richer descriptions of images for users with visual impairments. This integration fills in missing information, offering detailed insights into photos shared by friends and family or even the style and cut of clothing while shopping online.

Google search enhancements

Google is integrating its latest AI advancements to enhance its search engine, focusing on quality and user experience improvements. AI Overview delivers rapid responses to queries with additional customisation options, while AI-enabled multi-step questioning and reasoning facilitate in-depth exploration. The search engine also incorporates planning features, brainstorming tools, and multi-modal functionality that enables video understanding, enriching the overall search experience.

Google Veo and Imagen 3

Google introduced two new generative media models in Veo and Imagen 3, a direct competitor to OpenAI’s Sora and DALL-E. Veo focuses on generating high-quality 1080p videos exceeding a minute in length. This innovation opens up possibilities for longer-form video content creation with AI. Demonstrations showcased Veo's understanding of cinematic terms like "timelapse" and "aerial shots," highlighting its potential for sophisticated video generation.

Imagen 3, an evolution of Google's text-to-image model, features enhancements in understanding natural language and user intent. It excels at incorporating nuanced details from lengthy prompts, producing more realistic and detailed images. Notably, Imagen 3 addresses a longstanding challenge in AI image generation by significantly improving text rendering, reducing instances of misspellings and nonsensical text in generated visuals. This advancement marks a significant step towards creating AI-generated images that are both visually appealing and contextually accurate.

Food for thought

Google I/O 2024 underscored the company's intensified focus on AI, highlighting significant advancements across various domains. From Project Astra’s innovative AI assistant capabilities to enhancements in Google Workspace, Android, and Google Search, the event demonstrated Google's commitment to integrating AI deeply into its ecosystem. The introduction of generative media models, Veo and Imagen 3, further solidified Google’s competitive stance in AI-driven content creation. As Google continues to expand and refine its AI offerings, the industry can anticipate more sophisticated and accessible AI applications, shaping the future of technology and user experience.

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