Google is working on a countless number of projects, and I/O is, as always, an exciting time to see what’s happening at the tech giant. This year’s Google I/O keynote was much like their previous keynotes - lots of projects with a wide variety of impact.
While critics could complain that there was no big release during this keynote, not even Android P, I think the scattered approach to bring ML to literally everything Google makes is a big enough deal in itself. Google has been crunching data at godspeed with its custom Tensor Processing Units (TPUs). Today, they launched the v3 of their physical TPUs, which have some fancy liquid cooling for significant gains in performance. Google’s approach of adding AI to almost all applications, including Google Photos and Maps, is surely going to pay off - with millions of people already depending on it, it will save time and money.
All that said, my favourite part of this event is the new Google Assistant appointment booking feature.
When you ask Google Assistant to set an appointment with a business that doesn’t support online reservations, the Assistant will call the business and speak to a person in a real conversation. It sounds sci-fi, but the Assistant can actually converse beautifully. Take a look:
(The video below starts playing at 1:55:40 seconds)
The assistant handles this conversation just like a human. But what’s more impressive is the way it handles non-ideal situations:
(starts playing at 1:57:56)
Now, Pichai did confirm that this does not always work. Nonetheless, the potential is huge. Using TensorFlow to train a speech synthesizer - something that Google’s DeepMind has spent years on, WaveNet - with millions of phone calls is already a great start.
Google I/O had a few more interesting bits I would like to share. The company is also bringing AR to maps, to make directions better and having a “visual positioning system” VPS. They are also bringing huge improvements to Google Lens. See this really cool demo here:
(starts playing at 2:45:26)
And finally, on Android P, they are pushing hard on Digital Wellbeing - managing screen time and app usage, while handling annoying notifications better.
(starts playing at 2:31:05)
All in all, Google’s keynote this year was a fantastic peek into what’s coming in our lives. As a computer science student, it inspires me to deep-dive into machine learning and make something cool with frameworks like TensorFlow.
CES is the global technology festival that keeps me stoked every new year. This time is, like every edition of the show, full of cutting edge tech. This year, the focus seems to me on both IoT and driverless vehicles. There are some awesome outliers too, wrapping together a positive direction for every technology. The last two press days have already showcased a plethora of tech. This post captures some of that.
1. Ride in a publicly available driverless taxi with Lyft and Aptiv: Lyft and Aptiv collaborated to deliver a self-driving taxi experience to anyone attending CES this year. The BMW 5-series sedans are equipped with all the essential technology for fully autonomous driving. The Verge's Sean O'Kane reviews the experience in his post, and says that the future is here.
2. Intel puts AMD Radeon Vega graphics on its processor chips: Yes, you read that right. Intel and AMD are working together to deliver a powerful new processor, that combines the 8th Gen Intel Core i7 quad-core chipset to the AMD Radeon RX Vega M into a single board. The new processors would mark the beginning of Intel's H-series processors. Engadget has a cool article about this with performance numbers.
3. DJI's flight technology and Intel's processor powers the RYZE Tello toy drone: The RYZE Tello is probably the best $99 drone out there. It has a 5MP camera, support for live VR, and can even be programmed using the easy-to-use Scratch programming language. Best of all, it is powered by Intel's powerful 14-core processor and has DJI's flight tech - including collision detection and failsafe protection. The RYZE Tello will be sold on DJI's website here.
4. LG unveils a rollable 65" OLED TV: After accomplishing fitting a an OLED panel in the Wallpaper TV last year, LG is back at it again. This time, the display literally rolls into a box when you are not using it. It is still a 4K HDR panel, so do not expect seeing an 8K version anytime soon. However, there is another 8K TV released alongside this. Read about the rollable TV on Cnet.
5. Chinese startup Byton will sell an autonomous car in 2019 with a massive display: Byton is not the first company trying to dethrone Tesla in the electric semi-autonomous vehicle space, but it sure is the first to put such a massive display on a dashboard. The best part is that this car will be reasonably priced, at $45,000 for the base model. Wired's article summarizes the key aspects of this car. The Verge compiled a video of Byton's presentation in 10 minutes.
There is a lot more to cover from CES 2018, as the show-floor opens tomorrow. Looking forward to see some breakthrough tech in the coming days!
There hasn’t been an iPhone release in the last three years with as much hype as the iPhone X launch. For more than a year, we’ve been teased with this incredible bezel-free slab of glass that will define Apple’s future when it comes to the iPhone. The iPhone X (no, it is not the “x,” it is the “10”) is finally here, and it delivers on the promise.
When I saw the iPhone X for the first time, I was impressed - but also amazed. The display is incredibly bright and full of contrast, and the notch attributes the design neatly. The phone fit perfectly in my hand - just like my iPhone 6S. Gone is the home button, and with it, the thick forehead and chin. The swipes are perfectly useable. The software experience is fluid, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Face ID works well, and so does Animoji.
Smile to unlock the iPhone.
Unlocking the iPhone X with Face ID is very intuitive: pick up the iPhone and swipe up to unlock. Very rarely does Face ID make you wait for more than a second to unlock the phone. It may not be as quick and consistent as Touch ID yet, but it is close enough to be a suitable replacement.
In my experience, Face ID has been very accurate. Glasses don’t pose a problem for it, as far as my testing goes. And no, none of my friends could unlock it without me in the frame. There have been reports of twins able to unlock each other’s iPhone X, and some sunglasses not allowing Face ID to work. It is not perfect yet, but some future software updates may make a difference.
When someone else looks at your iPhone X, the lock screen notifications are hidden. It adds a neat layer of privacy that doesn’t hamper the convenience of glancing at your notifications on the lock screen.
When the Samsung Galaxy phones got the Iris scanner, skepticism resumed, because people were not convinced that it could replace fingerprint scanners. However, Apple is changing this perspective with the iPhone X - Face ID is real, it works, and it will stick.
The best camera I’ve used on a smartphone, hands down.
The iPhone X produces pictures with perfectly natural colors, with no extra sharpening and saturation. The camera app is easy to access with a 3D Touch on the lock screen. Just pointing and shooting results in excellent shots, but you can always tweak your exposure to get a better shot. Daylight shots are crispy, with great dynamic range and color accuracy. Night time shots are usually better than those take on other devices, and the f/2.4 telephoto lens performs just as well as the wide-angle.
Here are some pictures from the iPhone X:
Here is a sample 4K 60fps video shot on the iPhone X, wherein zooming in results in switching to the telephoto camera:
Both cameras on the iPhone X are 12 MP with independent OIS systems. Like the iPhone 8 Plus, the wide-angle camera has an aperture of f/1.4. Unlike the iPhone 8 Plus, the telephoto camera has a wider aperture at f/2.4 instead of f/2.8, which results in better low-light shots.
The best iPhone display, ever.
The iPhone X is widely said to have one of the best displays in the market. The new OLED display that Apple designed with Samsung specifically for the iPhone X has better brightness and contrast than any iPhone display before. As it is with OLED panels, blacks are perfectly black, and bright colors pop.
Apple is a late adopter to OLED technology, but the wait has paid off. As of now, I have not heard of any burn-in issues with this display, or any inaccuracies in color reproduction. OLED display may deteriorate in the long run, but there is a good chance that Apple has optimized iOS to prevent burn-in.
A polished iPhone experience for those who can afford it.
Apple has set a high bar for its competitors with the iPhone X. Then again, the iPhone X is expensive, with a starting price of $999 for the 64 GB model. Nonetheless, the phone is currently sold out across the world, with a 4-5 week wait time in many countries.
The iPhone X is fluid inside, beautiful outside. The excellent display, camera, battery life, performance, and design make it the complete modern smartphone experience.
Bottom line, we’ve come closer than ever to Jony Ive’s vision of a perfect slab of glass. The iPhone X delivers.