Google I/O 2019: Announcements App Developers Should Know

Google I/O has wrapped up its keynote and unveiled new technology, devices and services. With several new advancements and devices on the way, developers should be aware of several changes that they can integrate into their App Store Optimization strategies or utilize ASO to capitalize on. Here are the major announcements from the keynote.

Android Q

As anticipated, one of the biggest announcements was the latest information on Android Q. During the keynote, Google’s speakers revealed important information about the upcoming Android OS, including:

  • Native 5G support
  • Smart reply
  • On-device machine learning
  • Live caption mode
  • Dark theme

While these are all selling points for the device, they also provide new opportunities for app developers. The keynote presentation stated that the 5G support will enable faster and smoother performance for apps and mobile games. This will allow developers to create apps with better graphics, animations and effects, which can be used as a selling point to draw in more users.

The smart reply feature, which utilizes machine learning, can be applied to any messenger app. It helps predict text based on historical data, including emoji and actions, so any app with a messaging feature can benefit from the improved ease of use. As the machine learning is located on the device itself, users will not have to worry about their personal information ever leaving the phone.

Video apps, including apps that let users watch videos or send video messages, can benefit from live captions. As the live caption feature is built into the phone, any video app can utilize it. Hearing-impaired users who previously might not have used an app due to lack of quality subtitles can now watch videos on the app with instantly transcribed captions. Google also demonstrated upcoming speech recognition for those with disabilities that impact their ability to speak. When it’s completed, it could enable video chat apps or apps with voice to text capabilities to reach users who normally wouldn’t be able to use it.

Android Q will also support foldable devices. This will enable multitasking with apps split across two sides of a screen and screen continuity that keeps apps running seamlessly when the phone folds or unfolds. Developers should begin preparing their apps for foldable phones and planning an ASO strategy that includes it.

Q Beta 3 is now available on 21 devices, including all Pixels. App developers should ensure that their apps run properly on Android Q and be prepared to update with new versions and store listings based on the changes they make for Android Q’s capabilities.

Pixel 3a

Another highly-anticipated announcement was the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. These new devices were announced as a way of providing premium features at a more affordable price (starting at $399). As revealed in leaks, it features an OLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor and all the usual features of a Pixel 3 device.

The phone’s camera received the most praise, due to its 12.2-megapixel sensor and 8-magapixel selfie cam, as well as the range of photo quality tools it features. This includes night sight, portrait mode, and super res zoom. Photo apps can use this as a selling point and showcase the high-quality photos from Pixel 3a devices for their screenshots to demonstrate the app’s visual quality.

Other features of the Pixel 3a and 3a XL include:

  • Speech recognition to filter spam calls
  • Adaptive battery that uses machine learning to help optimize battery life
  • Free backups of all pictures on Google Photos
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack

Camera/AR

Google also announced its updates to its camera software for all Android devices, which utilize augmented reality to provide new functionality. With Google Lens, for instance, users can photograph a menu at a restaurant to identify which dishes are the most popular based on user reviews or search for photos of a dish. After the meal, they can photograph the check to determine the tip and how the bill should be split. Another example showed how users can photograph a sign to have it read to them instantly or translated into another language and overlaid on the sign in augmented reality.

These new features could provide competition for developers of similar apps, such as translators or restaurant finders. However, augmented reality apps or other apps that may face new competition from Google can utilize App Store Optimization to call out their app’s benefits or factors that differentiate them from what Google offers. Competition can lead to innovation, and ASO can help highlight the innovative differences that an app brings to the market.

Google Assistant

Google’s virtual assistant has also been updated, with improved built-in voice recognition. It can now understand queries and respond at greater speeds, as well as perform functions on apps. During the demonstration, Google’s speakers showed how the assistant can automatically open Twitter and load a specific user’s profile or open a navigation app and enter an address from a single command.

It can multitask and orchestrate actions across apps, so apps may be able to improve their ease of use through Google Assistant functionality.

Google’s Duplex has also expanded to “Duplex on the Web.” This lets it automatically perform actions like booking cars and movie tickets by filling out the relevant information instantly based on user preferences. Developers of similar booking apps may be able to utilize this to improve the ease of use for their own apps and enable users to place their purchases automatically through Duplex.

What Else?

While those were the announcements most relevant to apps, Google announced several new changes and enhancements at Google I/O. This included:

  • Google News Full Coverage added on web search
  • Podcasts added to web search with “Play” and “Save” options from the search results
  • 3D AR models available from web search results
  • An effort to remove bias from AI models
  • New privacy controls
  • Machine learning that gathers updates rather than raw data to improve user privacy
  • 20 winners of the Google AI Impact Challenge and their plans to use AI to address societal challenges

It was an eventful morning at Google I/O, with no shortage of announcements from Google. App developers have much to look forward to, but they should begin preparing their apps and their App Store Optimization strategies to make the most of the new features and capabilities Google is bringing to their phones and operating system. This includes new creative sets that utilize the camera quality, descriptions calling out the features made possible from the updates and metadata that helps the app index for terms connected to those features.

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