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A.I. Takes Center Stage at Google I/O 2017 Keynote Event

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Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL - Free Report) concluded its I/O 2017 keynote yesterday where CEO Sundar Pichai and his executives gave a glimpse of the technological improvements that the company is banking on to fend off competition.

Google, with its fingers already deep in the artificial intelligence (AI) pie, now seems to be getting more involved in the community. During the two-hour presentation, the tech giant unveiled a lot of products and updates mostly based on AI.

Let’s take a look at the some of the important announcements on the first day of the event.

Android Crosses 2 Billion Monthly Active Users

Google has taken the mobile market transition in its stride. Pichai stated that the figure of monthly active Android Devices has surpassed 2 billion. This includes any device that runs on Android including smartphones, tablets, Android TVs, and Android Wear devices.

We believe Alphabet’s continuous focus on innovation and its technological prowess are contributing significantly toward driving up its shares, which have rallied 18.9% compared with the Zacks Internet-Services industry’s gain of 18.2% on a year-to-date basis.

Google Assistant Now More Powerful

Google Assistant has been equipped with a computer-vision technology called Google Lens to analyze anything the phone’s camera is seeing and reveal relevant information. Some of the ways in which this feature would work were cited by Pichai. For example, the smartphone will automatically show ratings when the camera is pointed toward a restaurant or log on to a Wi-Fi network when pointed at login details.

Google is expanding Assistant to iOS offering almost the same functions as on Android.  The company will also be launching assistant in new languages and an Assistant developer kit for third parties.

Google Pushes Advantages to Home

Google and Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) are increasingly pitted against each other on the voice-controlled device front. Though the scales are tilted in Amazon’s favor, things can change anytime especially with the type of improvements that Google unveiled at the I/O.

In the coming months, Google Home will be able to make free calls to any phone in the U.S. and Canada. It now has an edge over Amazon Echo that can make calls to Alexa users only.

In addition Home will now connect to a user’s phone or a Chromecast streaming device to reveal the required information. It will control Hulu, SoundCloud, HBO Now, Deezer, and more. Users will now have access to Home’s Bluetooth radio.

Suggested Sharing & Picture Books

The app now has a feature called Suggested Sharing that can recommend users to share a photo with people who are a part of it.

Google also unveiled the Shared Library feature, which allows users to effortlessly add images to a central collection. Some control features are applicable here such as sharing the photo library only from a particular date or that includes certain things.

Google has also added the option of digital photo book creation. Users can get physical versions mailed for $9.99. Google stated that in the future, the app will remove unwanted items from photos.

Android O Beta Version Now Available

Google released the first beta version of Android O. Users can download it on a compatible smartphone. Expected updates to Google’s latest Android version are picture-in-picture video, new emoji, security enhancements, auto-fill logins and passwords, more AI capabilities and more battery life.

Though it’s still unknown what “O” stands for, it’s most likely to be “Oreo”.

Something for Low-end Smartphone Users As Well

Google is set to roll out a new version of Android called Android Go especially designed to be compatible with smartphones with 1GB of memory or less. The operating system will feature YouTube Go to allow users to save videos and watch or share them offline.

AI Hardware for Cloud Service Business

While the first generation of tensor processor units (TPUs) was for the company’s internal use, the second generation, unveiled yesterday will be made available to Google’s prospering cloud service business.

TPU chips facilitate fast and efficient building of AI on Google’s platform. Pichai stated that TPU and the TensorFlow platforms are now optimized to work together, which indicates that Google’s cloud computing platform is getting converted to Android for AI. This could easily give Google an edge over competitors.

Standalone Virtual Reality Headset

Rumors regarding this device have been doing the rounds, which finally turned out to be true when Google announced that the upcoming headsets from its partners including Lenovo and HTC will not need a smartphone to function.

Again, as expected, Google will be merging its Tango augmented reality system with virtual reality. The company stated that its Tango powered “WorldSense” technology will track user’s location in the virtual space.

Key Takeaways

Artificial intelligence and machine learning dominated the announcements. It appears that Google is banking on these for much of its future growth. Google’s ability to innovate has translated into strong growth for the company. However, it refuses to rest on its past laurels and continues to adapt to changing market trends.

Alphabet Inc. Net Income (TTM)

Google’s innovations outside the core search business include healthcare, self-driving cars, cloud computing and drones, all being driven significantly by machine learning. Even other key players like Apple (AAPL - Free Report) , Amazon and Facebook (FB - Free Report) are ramping up their technologies to develop more solutions. However, each has a different approach toward the use of the technology.

Zacks Rank

Alphabet currently carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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