For a Google I/O with not much to offer in the way of big Android announcements, there sure were a lot of smaller improvements Google had to share. After telling us about new Android APIs and the AOSP Galaxy S 4, the I/O keynote switched gears to Chrome and some other Google services. A lot of changes were revealed, so let’s hit on some of the more notable ones.
Some of the most impressive news was about the Google search experience. Voice-based search sees a number of improvements enhancing its ability to parse common language queries, letting you have a bit of a conversation with Google; ask it one question about a topic, and you can continue on just using pronouns, and Google will keep up with what you meant.
Language support grows and a number of new options now will receive rich responses to their questions. In general, you can expect more detailed, appropriate, and simply better answers.
Google Now gets some specific improvements of its own: you can verbally set triggers to remind you of future events, and the app will be smarter about things like warnings and recommendations.
Chrome is receiving new codec support, as well as expanded APIs to make tasks like online shopping more streamlined. Google also showed-off some intriguing multi-user gaming experiments, running right in the browser.
Google+ gets a multi-tiered overhaul, optimizing stream display based on your screen size and introducing hashtags. We also see Talk mature into a stand-alone Hangouts app that’s coming to an iOS app and Chrome on PCs, as well.
There are also a whole lot of exciting changes to the way Google manages your photos, letting it automatically find the best ones, optimize their appearances, and back them up to the cloud.
As if this all wasn’t enough, Google premiered the new Maps. It’s all about customizing the data you see to fit your interests and where you’re going. That means an increased focus on local content. You’ll also find improved imagery, including in-browsed 3D views. That all’s getting started on the desktop, but it should be coming to mobile soon.