Recap: Google I/O executive keynote

With a beautiful outdoor setting, worldwide coverage, and proud fans waving their country’s flags, the scene at Google I/O looked more like a World Cup match than a developer-centric conference. An excited crowd settled down to watch both major keynotes at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. In this article, I wrap up the first executive keynote. In a follow-up article, I will cover the developer keynote.

What is Google I/O?

Google search, Chrome, Android, and YouTube are some of the most popular products in the world. Software developers write applications and services on top of those products and make a lot of money in the process. If developers keep writing new and innovative applications on top of Google’s platforms, then Google remains relevant and will continue along its enormous growth trajectory.

Once a year, thousands of developers from around the globe flock to the Google I/O conference to learn the latest Google has to offer. The conference has hundreds of learning opportunities, and Google trots out their engineers so other developers can learn as much as they can to go back and start building the next big thing.

It’s all about the numbers

No good keynote comes without rolling out impressive numbers to remind developers how important it is to embrace their platform. Of course, this keynote is no difference, so here are some of the big numbers Google announced this year.

  • 82 billion apps & games downloads
  • 1 billion hours watched every day on YouTube
  • 1 billion kilometers per day calculated on Google Maps
  • 3 billion updates per day on Google Drive
  • 1.2 billion photos uploaded every day
  • Over 2 billion current Android device activations

Google Lens

Google engineers continue their march toward smarter AI capabilities. Part of that announcement is Google Lens. With Google Lens, you can point your camera’s phone at something, and it will recognize what it sees. Even better, it can tell you what it found, give you recommendations, and even take action.

In the following example, you can see how Google Lens recognizes a flower, knows what restaurant you are looking at to help you book a reservation, or even connect to a friend’s WiFi network by pointing your phone at the back of a wireless router.

Google Photos

While I have no information to back this up, I am going to say Google Photos is the most popular photo-storage app on Android. With free storage of all your photos forever, image recognition, and much more, Google continues to invest in new capabilities.

Photo Sharing

Google Photos comes with some powerful features, like image recognition, facial recognition, people recognition, and much more.

You can now share your photos with others, but some cool things set Google Photos apart from other photo apps:

  • Only share pictures of certain people with others. For example, you can share photos with a specific friend, but only when certain people are in the frame.
  • Even if people do not have Google Photos, if you share with them, it will send SMS pictures or an email instead.
  • You have the ability to clean up dark and grainy photos to bring them back to life.

Photo Books

When taking pictures with our phones, we have a tendency to snap a whole lot of pictures, either in quick succession or using the burst mode. If you are at a party, you might take sixty pictures of which ten are worth sharing.

A new Google Photos feature automatically searches all those images and compiles them into a curated album that shows the best of the best. For example, it will try to find pictures where everyone’s eyes are open, where the shot is crisp, or where everyone is smiling.

You can modify that curated list by adding and removing photos, and it is easy to share with others electronically over your phone, SMS, or email.

Some photos are so special you want to share them in a more meaningful way. Introducing Google Photo Books, which will take your phone’s photos and compile them into a physical print book.

As you can see in the following image, you can send out your album for physical printing and then send it to people you select. Google created a collection of modern, clean templates to choose from. The final book is printed on heavy paper stock and is bound in a full-color hardcover book. Pricing has yet to be specified.

Google Photos on iOS

Google is fighting for dominance in the photo app business, so Google Photos is now available for iOS. You can download the app here.

Soon, you can remove objects

Coming soon to Google Photos is the ability to remove objects from a scene. Similar to Adobe PhotoShop’s content aware fill feature, you can take a picture and Photos can automatically remove obstructions from view.

One example they showed was that of a parent taking a picture of their child at bat in a baseball game. The parent was behind a fence, so the fence was the star of the show instead of their child. With its new AI features, Google Photos will soon be able to remove the fence from the picture.


In what was a bit of a frantic and over-hyped element of the keynote, YouTube had a few announcements of their own. First, some stats:

  • People watch over 1 billion hours of content per day on YouTube.
  • 60% of users watch content on their phones.
  • There is 90% growth year-over-year on television

360-degree videos

With the television becoming a more prominent place for people to watch YouTube videos, Google is investing in some more cinematic experiences. Very soon, you can watch YouTube videos in 360-degrees on your television. They also demonstrated using the TV’s left, right, up, and down buttons as a mechanism to rotate around scenes.

Super Chat

I’m not a YouTuber that likes to watch someone put on their makeup in a real-time live feed and make comments along the way, but apparently, there are lots of people that appreciate this form of entertainment. Content creators do all sorts of crazy things on YouTube to get more advertisers and monetize their work. With Super Chat, people can not only chat about what insane thing you are doing but can send you money along the way.

Maybe some day I will get it and realize I made bad life decisions. Until then, if you love to chat and want more performances from YouTube stars, then start doling out your fivers whenever you see something you like. The fuzzy image below shows how you can send some cash to the YouTube creator when in a live chat.

AR and VR

Augmented reality and virtual reality seem to be something Google is interested in but are relying on other partners to bring hardware to market.

Google’s DayDream is a combination of hardware and software that allow you to watch 3D content on your phone. Google hyped this with their fabric-covered headset you can purchase with their new Pixel phone, but there have been little-to-no announcements since then. As you can see in the image below, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will now support Daydream.

Standalone VR

Google also said that by the end of this year, you would have the chance to purchase standalone VR in a compact headset that includes a computer and a screen built in. As you can see in the image below, Google is not exactly making a big splashy announcement on this topic.

VPS (Virtual Positioning Service)

Phones equipped with Google’s Project Tango technology can now scan the area of a building or objects in the real world. They can then be used to augment images seen through the phone’s camera. Examples they used were adding a 3D chair to a table when shopping at a store and creating a map within Lowe’s. All interesting stuff but all this augmented reality stuff is clearly still in its early days.

Google for Jobs

Google wants to make it easier for people to find a job. They partnered with companies like CareerBuilder and LinkedIn to create a job search engine. You just type in a job role, like say, waiter. Google will list jobs for waiters in your area. As you can see in the following image, the search engine will then let you modify the criteria, such as commute distance, posting dates, categories, and much more.

Google demonstrated that you can select the job and then easily apply. I question how easy this will be in real life. I would think companies like LinkedIn and CareerBuilder want the traffic coming to their site, so it will be interesting to see if all these job applications are seamless or still force you to jump through multiple sites to submit an application.

So much more

Google made some interesting announcements with Google Home, such as a new feature where it lights up when you have an upcoming calendar request and the ability to see more results on the television.

Of course, this being a developer conference, there were some really big announcements targeted directly at developers. I will post another article here on with the developer-centric announcements. But for now, you can see that there’s a lot of excitement for the general consumer with these updates.

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