The week after Microsoft BUILD and Google IO 2018
Both companies introduced dozens of new services for their customers in Azure and Google Cloud.
The most emphasis was – you guessed it – on pre-packaged easy to use AI in the cloud solutions.
Both companies introduced new cloud solutions for AI backed up by the proprietary hardware solutions to improve performance 10-15 fold.
It was another way of saying – don’t do this alone, don’t try this in your local infrastructure, it’s not worth it.
Google got a lot of attention because of Google Duplex – real time demonstration of AI bot talking to humans to make reservation, which sparked a lot of interest and controversy, also from the ethics perspective.
Google made its assistant even better due to continuous conversations, without requiring OK Google each time you want to talk to your assistant.
Microsoft introduced improvements in multi endpoint platform bots in Azure cloud and demonstrated conversation between human and Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa. Integration of Cortana and Alexa is probably the first time ever two big companies integrate their voice assistants.
Microsoft abandoned its mobile dreams by putting Windows Phone platform into final security maintenance mode. However, it wants to retain its presence using Microsoft Launcher (Android), mobile Edge browser and Cortana.
Microsoft Word mobile has been downloaded more than 500 million times, Microsoft Launcher has good reviews but still vast majority of Android users will keep on using their default launcher most of the time, Chrome as their browser, Google Assistant as their voice assistant.
Manual labour required to change defaults is always a barrier, and there is not so much incentive cause default options from Apple and Google are very good and well-integrated.
At least Microsoft fans can have common experience they might miss after switching to iOS or Android smartphones.
And this is going to be even better with the incoming Your Phone and mobile timeline integration with Windows 10.
Google is the dominating player in mobile space, therefore one of the most important announcements was Android P. (Nobody knew what P meant at the time of writing this post).
Obviously, there is AI in more and more areas of the OS such as battery optimization and AI controlled automating brightness learning user preferences.
New AI related features for Google Photos – another photo enhancement techniques using AI (colorizing black and white photos, etc.).
Predictive actions, trying to anticipate what the user is about to do thanks do ML are also interesting.
No surprises here.
But I think the most interesting part was the introduction of mechanisms to control your inner tech-addicted child.
Dashboard to see how much time you spend in each app, grey UI to let you know it’s time to switch it off and go to sleep, true do not disturb to completely let you know to focus on something else than your phone screen.
How and who is going to use it – time will tell.
Also – interesting – Android P beta was not only available for Google’s own Pixel phones but also for several other Android vendors.
The foundation was prepared in Android Oreo (Treble feature) but we can see it in action for the first time and it restores hope of more timely Android OS updates.
Samsung and Huawei were not among them, unfortunately.
Here, at Altkom Software and Consulting we are also interested in ML Toolkit for mobile, which we are going to investigate further.
Microsoft spend a lot of time presenting their edge solutions for drones, industry sector, ML models created in the cloud deployed locally on the devices of various sizes.
Microsoft presented AR for working together in construction industry with 3D models of buildings and their Holo Lens.
Google impressed with augmented Google Maps showing point of interests, paths for pedestrian navigation in real time.
Microsoft Modern Design has been upgraded to less minimalistic Fluent Design and that design language was recently updated.
More acrylic windows, subtle effects, which you can see yourself in modern Microsoft apps for the latest Windows 10 release.
Google Material Design has also been upgraded with new mechanism for skins to both retain familiar user experience but also help to differentiate to enable apps not too look too similar which was one of the problems of material 1.0.
The very fact, that both giants spend time explaining how their design languages evolve proves how important UX is for their technological identity.
It’s good to know what the big ones are planning, sooner or later those solutions and concepts will find their way to the enterprise world.
For sure they influence expectations of users demanding new experiences from their banks, insurance companies and we as a software vendor have to be ready to deliver.
Author: Jacek Chmiel, CTO, ASC LAB