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Google IO 2018: All Major Highlights and Announcements

Tech and search engine giant-Google held their annual Google IO developer conference at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, USA. There are lots of things that went down during the 2-day conference. One of the highlights of the conference is the Android P update, which lots of Android lovers are looking forward to. This year isn’t about the new Android operating system, Google Maps, Google Assistant and Gmail also had their moments. See below all that went down at Google IO 2018.

Google IO 2018

1. Google Duplex can now handle your calls

It seems Google Assistant is now becoming more smarter and creepier. Google introduced Google Duplex at the Google IO 2018, this feature has a natural-sounding voice that can help you make phone calls, appointments and reservations for you. Google Duplex can also handle a back-and-forth when it calls a business or trying to book a reservation. This really shocked the audience at the conference, especially when trying to book a haircut.

During the phone call, the business asked what type of haircut and Assistant replied “woman’s haircut”. Assistant also said “Mm-hmmm”, when the company asked for a second to go through its time schedule. Assistant also answered other questions like a real human, with a human voice as well.

2. Gmail receives a new AI feature: Smart Compose

It’s safe to say Gmail has received more updates in 2018 than it ever did in its 14 years of existence. With this new AI feature, Gmail is getting a totally different look. You can now send emails faster, thanks to machine learning, which will help you create and finish sentences faster. This will be smarter than autocorrect since Google has much of your personal data.

3. Google Maps major bug fixes

Google Maps might just be the best online Map ever created, hands-down. Apart from using it when we’re leaving home in the morning to helping us navigate previously unknown places, like a foreign country or taking an unknown road. Google Maps have saved lots of lives globally and in this major improvement, Google is integrating Google Lens into Google Maps. All you need to do is point your phone at the street and a StreetView AR overlay will pop up. This will lead you in the right direction while also keeping the Google Maps layout at the bottom of the screen.

4. Android P beta available

Google announced that the Android P beta will be more accessible, as they launched its public beta for Google Pixel phones. But that’s not all, other phones from seven other manufacturers, including OnePlus and Nokia, will be able to test it as well. It seems the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P were left out of this release. Apart from Pixel and Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, other devices that will be ready for the update are the Essential Phone, Nokia 7 Plus, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Vivo X21 and the Oppo R15 Pro. The OnePlus 6 will also be able to run the beta when it’s released later this month. You can see how to install Android P here and all its features.

5. Google Smart Displays arrives in July

Google also confirmed that their Smart Displays will arrive in July at the Google IO 2018. These Assistant-powered smart speakers are Google’s reply to the Amazon Echo Show. They will also be able to play YouTube videos as well, something Amazon’s Alexa-powered display can’t do. Lenovo also released a Smart Display at the CES 2018 and it seems LG, Sony and JBL have smart displays in the works, too.

6. Experience new voices in Assistant – including celebs

Six new voices are coming to Google Assistant to perfect the feature due to popular demand. The voices will all have different accents, including your favourite celebrities. Google confirmed musician John Legend is lending his voice to Google Assistant, so you’ll hear him through phones, speakers, and all Google Assistant-voiced products soon. Google says Legend and the five other new voices (still a secret) will be coming later this year.

7. Google News receives the Intelligence touch

Everything is getting the intelligence touch and Google news won’t be left out. Google News is getting a Flipboard or Apple News-like design with new features that’ll make it easier to access information. The information will now be broken down into what Google calls briefings and newscasts. You can also subscribe to news sources you like. With machine learning, Google will surface credible publications, in order to present you with more high-quality, reliable information. This new version will be rolling out starting from next week on Android, iOS and the web.

8. Assistant will resurrect Google Now

Google Now launcher is coming back and better thanks to Assistant. Get to experience a new visual experience when you swipe up on the main Assistant menu. This reminds us a lot of Google Now, with reminders, notes, and directions based on your day and recent interactions with Google Assistant. It’s coming to Android around July or August, and iOS later this year.

Joseph Young
Joseph Young
Joseph Young is a Senior writer at He is a prolific writer who has an eye for everything technology. He is fondly referred to as one of Africa's most sought-after mobile phone reporters.