“We are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done.”
That’s what Google CEO Sundar Pichai said at the annual Google I/O developer conference last week, which is routinely used to introduce the company’s latest “toys” to the world. This year was no exception.
In this article, I’ll highlight the goodies that Google unveiled and explain why they matter to marketers.
A Cheaper Pixel Phone
Google is making mobile more affordable. It’s offering a less expensive version of its smartphone.
The new phone is called the Pixel 3a. It’s half the price of its predecessors.
A Pixel 3a with a 5.6-inch screen will set you back about $399. A 6-inch model will cost $479.
Of course, you can still purchase the “regular” model for $799.
As Google and its chief competitor Apple both move to make smartphones cheaper, it’s safe to say that more people will buy them. That means you can expect to see even more users on mobile platforms.
In other words, demand for mobile-friendly web traffic will continue to grow. As will demand for app solutions.
Make sure that your digital strategy lines up with that inevitable future.
Google’s Smart Screen Grows
Google is upgrading its smart screen home device.
If you’re unfamiliar with the smart screen home device, you can think of it as a tablet mounted on a smart speaker. It used to be called Google Home Hub but now it’s called Google Nest Hub.
What’s the upgrade? It now has a camera that you can use for security purposes.
You don’t have to use it just for security, though. The tool can also use facial recognition to show various members of your family custom content (like calendar reminders).
The home device also accepts visual commands. If you want it to stop playing a song, you can just hold your hand up.
Unsurprisingly, the tablet portion of the tool also works for video chat. It will even zoom and pan to follow the person who’s talking.
Of course, all of those bells and whistles also introduce security concerns. That’s why Google added a switch on the back of the device so you can turn off the camera and the microphone.
Finally, the device also supports voice queries. That’s why it’s important to you as a marketer.
As companies like Google add more features to their hands-free assistants, you can expect to see more interest in voice search. You’ll have to optimize your content accordingly.
If you’re wondering what, exactly, that entails, I’ve written a comprehensive guide on what voice search means for marketing and how brands can start optimizing their content for a new way of search.
Google I/O 2019: Google Assistant Gets an Upgrade
Speaking of voice search, Google Assistant is also getting an upgrade.
For starters, it runs faster on Pixel phones. That’s because much of the artificial intelligence (AI) associated with the search algorithm runs offline.
The new assistant also includes personalization features. It can glean info from websites you visit, your calendar, and your contacts.
Additionally, Google Assistant now allows you to turn on captions for web videos. You can even read captions for podcasts on Android devices.
Google Assistant will also be built into Waze, a traffic and navigation app that highlights real-time info about road conditions.
Speaking of driving, you can now shift Google Assistant into driving mode. Doing so gives you a dashboard that provides insights you might need during your commute, such as directions and music control.
Google seems to be trying very hard to convince app developers that integration with Google Assistant Actions will drive app engagement.
“Why extend your Android app to the Assistant? What’s in it for you? Well we know that there are challenges for re-engagement for mobile apps, and we think that part of that is because there’s friction in the app experience today,” said Google developer advocate Daniel Myers.
we know that mobile apps will continue to be the foundation of how users get things done on Android, and so we envision a seamless connection with the mobile ecosystem to be a key feature of the next generation assistant and were excited to work with you to make that happen via app actions,” he said.
As Google continues to go all-in on the Google Assistant, it will do brands well to brush up on how they can integrate with the Assistant. Much of that will be done through Google Actions – the apps of the smart speaker world – and brands will need to begin seriously considering how to use Actions in their marketing strategies.
A Next-Generation Operating System
Google also offered some details about Android Q, its new operating system.
First, it will support dark mode. That means it will show white text on a black background to improve battery life.
The new OS will also allow users to enter “focus mode.” That mode will hide apps that tempt people to waste time, such as YouTube and Twitter.
Stephanie Cuthbertson, a senior director at Google, also said that the new operating system will include security and privacy features.
Google I/O 2019: Augmented Reality Search Results
You’ve already seen images in search results, but how about 3D results? That’s coming soon as well.
If you search for something like a specific shoe brand or “great white shark,” you’ll see 3D images that you can view in augmented reality.
The takeaway here is to move your image content strategy to the next level with 3D models.
That’s especially true if you’re running an ecommerce site. For example, some people might like to see how a shoe they want to purchase looks with a specific outfit.
With the augmented reality feature, shoppers can lay an outfit on their bed and take a peek at the combination online.
Also, some folks might want to see how a sofa would look in their living room. Again, Google can make that happen with 3D imagery.
Additionally, Google showed an example of a user pointing their phone at a Bon Apetit recipe, which then popped up to show a full how-to video of the recipe on their phone.
The implications for content marketing here are definitely something to take note of. Imagine if (or more likely, when) marketers are able to do something similar with blog posts, white paper, even emails. It takes interactive content to entirely new level, and could easily translate to ecommerce, thought leadership, and even paid media and interactive ads.
If you want to go support augmented reality, you’ll have to partner with Google and a 3D capture service. Obviously, that’s going to require an investment.
But if you do it early on, you could have a considerable competitive advantage.
Google Lens Gets Better
Google has continued to emphasize images in its search results and new features, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
At I/O, the tech giant that Google Lens is getting some new features.
Now, you can point the lens at a restaurant menu and it will highlight the most popular items.
When you’ve paid the bill at the end of the meal, you can point Google Lens at the receipt to calculate the proper amount to tip. Unfortunately, Google Lens can’t adjust the tip amount based on the quality of service. Yet.
Finally, if you snap a photo of a sign in a foreign language, Google Lens will translate it for you.
If you’re running a brick-and-mortar outfit, think about some ways that you can take advantage of Google Lens to make life easier for your customers.
Keep in mind: Google Lens is trying to index the physical world like Google indexed the online world. It’s designed to enable people to point their cameras at objects and identify them.
If you want to be a part of that identification game, be sure to tag your photos and enter keyword-rich alt descriptions.
Google I/O 2019: Duplex Is Now on the Web
At last year’s Google I/O conference, Google introduced Duplex, a customer service tool. It’s designed to help businesses handle phone calls, schedule appointments, and answer typical questions.
This year, Duplex is making its debut on the web. All you need to do is tell the app what you want it to do and it will pre-populate online forms on the company’s website.
For example, if you say: “Rent me a car with Hertz.” It will visit the Hertz website and get the process started for you.
It will use info from your calendar to pre-fill date fields.
This would be an excellent time to make sure your online business is Duplex-friendly. That usually involves just a bit of tweaking.
The good news about Duplex, of course, is that it will lead to higher conversion rates. Even better: it will give you more info in your signup forms without requiring your visitors to fill out a bunch of fields manually.
And it does that all for free. You also don’t have to install any software.
Go Undercover With Google Maps
Google Maps is also getting an upgrade. Now, you can travel incognito.
Here’s what that means: Google Maps won’t store your destination or routes in your account history.
Clearly, there’s a demand for privacy and Google has responded to it. Make sure that your website and apps respect people’s privacy as well.
A Written Account
Google is also introducing a new tool called “Live Relay.” It will transcribe your phone calls in real time.
Additionally, it also allows you (or anyone else on the call) to respond via text.
That’s pretty useful if you’d like to get a written account of a recent phone call. Use the transcription to make sure that you’re on the same page as the other person.
Support for People With Speech Impediments
Finally, Google also announced a new research effort called Project Euphonia.
Project Euphonia adapts Google’s AI voice algorithm so that it understands people with speech impediments. That’s helpful to ALS patients and folks who’ve recently suffered a stroke.
Again: it’s becoming abundantly clear that the future of search is voice. Be ready.
Wrapping It Up
High-tech is advancing at breakneck pace. That’s why you can never be satisfied with your digital marketing accomplishments thus far.
You’ll need to adapt your strategies to support emerging solutions. Fortunately, you can gain some insight about those solutions by reviewing the highlights from the recent Google I/O conference.
Now it’s up to you to take action on those insights.