Eskom has announced enhancements to its digital platforms, including a new chatbot called Alfred to report faults and an upgraded customer portal and app….
This week Google revealed a range of new products and updates at its 2019 I/O conference in the US.
Along with releasing the new Pixel 3a and 3a XL, the company also announced several upcoming features and updates for Google and Android.
Android Q is the company’s 10th version of Android and focuses on “innovation, security and privacy and digital well being”.
The new OS is designed to accommodate foldable screens by adjusting to changing dimensions and will support 5G networks as well.
Android Q will also include Live Caption, an accessibility feature that adds captions to any media playing on your device.
“Live Caption works with videos, podcasts and audio messages, across any app—even stuff you record yourself,” the company said.
Smart Reply is built into Android Q too, and will be able to help users reply to messages and even suggests actions based on the content in conversations.
“For example, if someone sends you an address, you can just tap to open that address in Maps,” Googled explained.
In terms of privacy, Android Q will feature a new Privacy menu in Settings that will give users access to a variety of security controls.
Setting will also include a new Live Location menu as well.
“You can now choose to share location data with apps only while they’re in use,” the company said.
The company also noted that Android Q will install privacy updates in the background so users don’t have to reboot their phones.
Finally, Focus Mode is Google’s latest contribution to its host of digital well being features.
When Focus Mode is active, apps that users deem distracting will be silenced.
Google’s Family Link parental control settings will also be available on all devices running Android Q.
Android Q Beta builds are currently available for a number of smartphone brands, including Google’s Pixel, Samsung, Huawei, Nokia and LG.
The new Google Assistant will launch on Pixel phones at the end of 2019.
According to Google, Assistant will be faster due to an entirely redesigned machine learning model.
“We developed completely new speech recognition and language understanding models, bringing 100GB of models in the cloud down to less than half a gigabyte,” the company explained.
This allows for information to be stored locally on devices, essentially speeding up Assistant’s processing ability.
“This breakthrough enabled us to create a next generation Assistant that processes speech on-device at nearly zero latency,” Google further noted.
The new Assistant will also be able to work without an internet connection.
Other Google Assistant features coming to a number of devices include a driving mode, new commands and Personal References.
Driving mode will optimise your devices for driving by highlighting necessary apps when you’re in your car.
“Assistant’s driving mode will launch automatically when your phone is connected to your car’s Bluetooth or just say, ‘Hey Google, let’s drive,’ to get started,” Google explained.
Assistant’s Personal Preferences will log information about you, and information you give your Assistant, so that it can provide a more personalized experience.
Google also noted that users will now be able to simply say “stop” to turn off alarms or reminders.
While the new “stop”command is available globally, Personal Preferences and Assistant’s driving mode will roll out to Android devices over the next few months.
Google also revealed new updates for security and privacy on its platforms and apps.
This includes easier access to your Google Account, more control over your personal data, and an expanded Incognito Mode.
“Today you’ll see your Google Account profile picture appear in the top right corner across products like Gmail, Drive, Contacts and Pay,” the company said.
This means that you will now be able to access your Google Account settings from different places, allowing you to update and change your security settings faster.
You can also now delete your search history directly on Maps, Assistant and YouTube as well as activate Incognito Mode for these apps specifically.
“When you turn on Incognito mode in Maps, your activity—like the places you search or get directions to—won’t be saved to your Google Account,” Google said.
In an effort to further protect user data, the company has also changed the way Gboard, its keyboard, learns.
Instead of Gboard’s AI suggesting words based on what you regularly type, the AI now learns new words by analysing trends on a global user scale.
This means that Gboard will not read or see what you are typing.
Search and Google Lens
In the upcoming months, Google will roll out a new feature for Search that will allow users to access information in AR.
This means that you will be able to interact with 3D models of certain products and objects when you search for them.
According to Google, this helps give you “a sense of scale and detail” for things you may be trying to learn about or buy.
Google Lens, which interprets information using a device’s camera, can now highlight popular items on menus based on Google Reviews.
“When you tap on a dish, you can see what it actually looks like and what people are saying about it,” the company said.
Google Lens can now detect and translate language in text form as well.
Additionally, a new feature on Google Go will use Lens to read information out loud, helping users better understand things around them.
“It highlights the words as they are spoken, so you can follow along and understand the full context of what you see,” Google explained.
The feature will first launch on Google Go, the company’s search app for novice smartphone users.
Lastly, Google revealed Live Relay, a feature that will listen and respond to phone calls for users, while users type.
“Smart Reply and Smart Compose help make typing fast enough to hold a synchronous phone call,” Google further explained.
The feature is aimed at users with hearing impairments, and will be stored locally to keep information private.
Live Relay is still in development.
Feature image: screenshot, Google