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It’s hard to believe that about this time a week ago I was having lunch with a brand new bunch of people from all over the world who came to Mountain View, California to be a part of Google I/O.

From all the pre-festivities on Tuesday until the last drop on Friday (a talk on Building powerful custom apps fast with App Maker on G Suite and taking photos in front of the I/O welcome sign), it was an action-packed week. Here are some of the highlights from my time at Google I/O:

Sandboxes, CodeLabs, and Office Hours, OH MY!

Many people may ask – why would you want to go to a conference when all the talks are recorded? To put it simply, for me – Sandboxes and CodeLabs! If you aren’t familiar, Sandboxes are where Google houses areas of interest where you can come by and ask questions to people who have been working on different Google products. This is extremely helpful if you’ve been working on a project that you’d like to be able to ask questions to the product creators (or in my case, have an issue with your Gradle build failing). You can also sign up for and attend Office Hours to ask questions, or even schedule time for a private app design review. How cool is that?

Here are some of the Sandboxes at Google I/O this year:

  • IoT – Android Auto, Android Things, Android TV, Cast, Google Assistant, Google Home and Nest
  • Google Assistant
  • Google Play – Android Platforms, Android Studio, Instant Apps, Android Wear, Google Play COnsole
  • Machine Learning, Firebase, and Google Cloud Platform
  • Google Experiments – For AI, Android, and Chrome
  • Google Maps & Mobile WebProgressive Web Apps, Accelerated Mobile Pages (check out my AMP Primer), Payments, and Device Frameworks
  • Accessibility – UX, Material Design, and Google Design Sprints
  • AR & VR – Daydream and Tango (Google’s VR and AR platforms, respectively)

Here’s a map of Shoreline Amphitheatre and the set up of Sandboxes (the dome shapes) on the map:

Google IO 2017 Map

The Google I/O Map within the Android app.

 

Getting to Play with Demos and Talk to People who Make the Products

For a while now, we’ve heard about Firebase Analytics (now called Google Analytics for Firebase) and how it can be used for analytics tracking on mobile apps for both iOS and Android.  At I/O I was able to actually talk to people from the Firebase team.  They even asked for my feedback on using Firebase, saying they want to take our feedback into account, which I thought was especially great since not all use cases for Firebase and other Google products model ours here at InfoTrust.  For example, a lot of the people giving talks at I/O assumed having access to the source code (I/O is primarily a Developer’s Conference).  However, since we focus on analytics and not development, this is not the case for us at InfoTrust.  This is why I advocated that InfoTrust be considered as a use case for some of these products, especially as InfoTrust is a Google Analytics Certified Partner.  It’s nice to know that the presenters keep an open mind when talking to attendees and solicit feedback.

The Introduction of Kotlin, or as Google puts it: Kotlin is Here and Everything is Going to be Okay

While I haven’t done Android Development before, I’m starting to play around more with Android apps now. I’ve often audibly expressed my opinion that Java is a verbose language. I was impressed with how much simpler and less wordy Kotlin seems to make Android Development. What’s also nice is that Kotlin is interoperable with Java, so you can use as little or as much as you’d like. For someone like me, that is a major plus as I can start out with just a little and add more as I learn more. I look forward to checking out some Kotlin tutorials and testing out my learning as I continue to tinker with Android Development. JetBrains (the creator of Kotlin) has debuted their long-term vision for the language and it is an impressive one, in which Kotlin is not only interoperable with Java for Android but also other languages and platforms.

The shift from Mobile-first to AI-first

In the same way that the internet went wild for everything “responsive”, we will start to see a huge shift for things being AI-ready or designed in a way that is AI-first. As was shown with Google Lens (and before, with Google Glass), the potential here is vast and exciting. This opens up a whole world of opportunity for a different kind of analytics tracking and new challenges as we rely more on speech processing of various language patterns around the world with newer products like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home.

Echo-and-Google-Home

All of this processing power required to design AI-first and incorporate cool things like Machine Learning required Google to redesign their data centers from the ground up with new Cloud TPUs, or Tensor-Processing-Units.

Cloud Tensor Processing Unit

A Cloud Tensor Processing Unit (TPU)

I’m sure this is only the beginning of a wave of changes we can expect to see as we shift towards AI-streamlined interfaces.

Hopefully, these resources are helpful and will help you plan your trip to I/O next year! You should definitely plan to download the I/O app to help you plan your trip if you decide to go for 2018. If you have any additional questions or would like any other I/O tips, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @angiegrossmann or email me.


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