The highlight of this week is Google's annual I/O event where they announce major projects they've been working on, and this year they did not disappoint. In keeping with its embrace of AI, the company announced Google Duplex, a service that has the capability of making calls to businesses and other people while sounding completely natural. Snapchat is releasing a redesign of its redesigned app, and there have been sadly three bombings in Indonesia this week carried out by suicide bombers.
Google goes all-out at I/O
The Google Duplex service is crazy for a few different reasons, but the most notable one is that it has the capability of participating in a conversation while sounding completely natural, and even adds "ums" and "ahs" in for extra authenticity. Google hopes to use this technology to call businesses and update their listings on Maps, but eventually the service could be available to users in some form.
Duplex can react accordingly when a conversation doesn't go as planned, and is able to continue on with a talk even if it doesn't have all the information requested by a business, to book a hair appointment for example. However, some conversations might overwhelm the system and that's when it gets transferred over to a human operator for assistance.
There's been lots of opinions on this matter, including that it's trying too hard to be friendly and that it might not work in live situations, but only time will tell. In a statement, the company confirmed that it will identify itself as a robot when beginning a conversation.
The company has published a blog post including more details about the technology and soundbites of it in action.
Rolling out as much AI as possible into its products is proving successful for Google, who is using the technology to improve both the Maps and News apps drastically. Using augmented reality frameworks built into phones, Maps will soon be able to provide Street View-style directions overlaid on the real world, and News will begin using AI to search the web for trustworthy stories and organize them into storylines.
In other Google news, the company has announced it'll be reducing the price of Google Drive storage and will be renaming the service Google One. The company has been working on "connected clothing" and launched a jacket with Levi's last year, but announced an update to the software that will allow for ride-share notifications and location saving.
Number of the week
In oddly large numbers, millennials are choosing to have their weddings hosted in barns decked out with wood benches and goodie-filled mason jars. Wedding-planning platform and magazine The Knot recently released their annual survey and in it, found that 15 percent of couples chose a barn or farm for their reception in 2017.
The number of weddings in banquet halls dropped from 27 to 17 percent between 2009 and 2017, proving that couples are now looking for more unique places to celebrate their love.
In case you missed it
- Three Christian churches in Surabaya, Indonesia were bombed on May 13, leaving 13 dead and more than 40 injured. Included in the deceased are the suspected suicide bombers, a couple and their children aged 9, 12, 16 and 18. Explosions began minutes after one another around 7:30 am as people were arriving for morning prayer service.
- Snapchat has finally realized people aren't fans of its most recent redesign, leading the company to redesign it yet again. This time, friend's stories are located on the right-hand screen with Discover, and Snaps will once again appear in chronological order.
- Residents in an apartment building in Kissimmee, Florida, recently discovered that their building had been purchased by house-sharing company Airbnb, who planned on listing the vacant rooms on its website in what is its first branded apartment complex. Too bad residents aren't happy about the news.
- Cape Town has avoided Day Zero, the day when the city runs out of water, for now. For months the city's countdown to the dreaded day counted down, until it was updated to July, and now just sometime in 2019. The city is seeing record drought and as a result, has had to implement severe water restrictions on citizens to avoid running out of water, a crisis which began way back in 2015. The BBC reports that a large iceberg coming close to Cape Town could do the trick, but doing so would be costly and risky.