Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the company’s annual I/O developers conference on Wednesday with a keynote address that included previews of a batch of new products. Among those showcased were Google Assistant, a tool that can understand and respond to complex questions in real time; and Home, Google’s highly anticipated response to Amazon’s Echo speaker.
Google VP of Product Management Mario Queiroz, pictured above, took the stage to demonstrate some of Home’s capabilities.
“What makes Google Home really shine is that it has Search built in,” he said.
Google officials took a big step toward answering one of the chief complaints of the company’s critics — that for all of the years it has dominated the Web with search technology, it has fallen behind in translating that success into tangible hardware and services. Rivals including Amazon and Facebook already have launched several products integrating new machine learning and conversational speech technologies into the connected home ecosystem, threatening to leave Google in the dust.
“Progress in all of these areas is accelerating, thanks to profound advances in machine learning and AI, and I believe we are at a seminal moment,” Pichai told I/O attendees.
Google has “evolved significantly over the past 10 years, and I believe we are poised to take a big leap forward over the next 10 years,” he added.
Google Assistant can do everything from buying movie tickets, to making a reservation for a family dinner and navigating to any given destination, according to Pichai.
Google considers its language translation technology the most advanced in the world. A user can simply point a mobile phone at a menu and receive a translation in real time, for example.
Google Home will be able to use some of the same technologies that power Assistant to turn on lights, play music, set an oven timer, or check a flight reservation.