Last week, I followed Google I/O 2019 and I would like to tell you what are - in my opinion- the most innovative announcements made there from a mobile development perspective.
In Google i/o 2018 and 2017, Google impressed mobile techies with the announcement of Kotlin language support, enhancements of several products with AI, and the launch of Flutter: a framework to develop native mobile apps for Android as well as iOS. After such exciting achievements, we developers were expecting that on 2019 Google would surprise us again. Though, summing up and weighing all together, we can conclude that the IT giant has been disruptive once again.
AI and AR in gadgets
We all know the increasing importance of Artificial Intelligence, it amazed the human race this third millennium. In fact, IT communities and companies have been reaching incredible milestones in AI investing effort and resources. Google is aiming to lead this trend and has shown quite significant progress to do so.
During the main keynote, Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai presented several new products that come up with some enhancements. The Pixel 3A somehow improves its predecessor hardware, however, its price - the cheapest so far- was an impacting surprise for attendees. Furthermore, along with the Nest Hub Max - a home device with a camera - we may say their native software brings right to our home and pockets a boosting Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence technology.
Google’s advanced speech and face (image) recognition as well as Natural Language both allow accurate suggestions, predictions, and voice commands that will help users to have more comfortable user experience with almost all interactions but mainly with search. These features will be powered by Google Assistant and some Google Apps.
On the other hand, they promise the so desired data and location privacy even when using a local Machine Learning engine. By the way, the ML techniques and models have been optimized so that they can execute in the same device with no cloud dependency.
Parents had been worried about their kids’ access to mobile devices, Google addresses this and adds a parental control feature that protects children from inappropriate usage.
The continuous investments to provide better and more mature tools for Machine Learning put in evidence an empowered development kit with the synergy along TensorFlow Lite, Keras and NumPy.
Specifically on mobile app development, there are plenty of news. Android Q supports foldable screens; it also leverages multitasking with bubbles (similar to Facebook Messenger chat direct access); improved share sheet and the settings panel embedded in apps. Additionally, notifications can be prioritized and suggestions are powered by FirebaseLanguageProcessing text classifier.
More news on the app development side are the Android Jetpack tools that have been enriched with Room library now allowing more complex DB operations with text and views (tables). Navigation is made even better with cross-linking graphs and allowing to pass ViewModels, but it also provides a better modularization and a hi-fi preview.
But the most remarkable improvement is Jetpack Compose, a toolkit to simplify UI development combining a reactive programming model - similar to Flutter - with the conciseness of Kotlin. Not to mention Gradle build system allowing better dependencies and modules structure.
What are the highlights of Google I/O 2019?
Besides the aforementioned, there are few highlights among many new advancements, such as the unquestionable innovation that is to be Flutter as a complete cross-platform development framework. Now with Flutter it is possible to develop, not only Android and iOS native apps, but also desktop and… web platform!
When reaching stable release we would say that Flutter is going to be the most powerful framework to develop apps targeting whatever you want with one same code base.
All these innovations will help us to develop apps using power tools, increasing productivity and solving problems in daily life.
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