Remembering Google I/O 2016

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

Last year's Google I/O was a big show for the company, and I remember a lot of rumblings from the Apple fanbase that they felt Google was lapping Apple in many ways. The urge to switch was strong with many people right after the conference, and they let us know on their podcasts and blogs. I don't have numbers on how many people switched, but I doubt it was that many. I personally was not particularly moved by what Google showed, as I laid out in my piece nearly one year ago to the day:

Most of what they announced will work on iOS

Whether it be Allo, Duo, Google Assistant, Google Home, and Android Wear 2.0 all benefit me as an iOS user. This is a big chunk of the cool stuff to come out of the keynote and they’re going to be on iOS day and date with the Android versions.

Google Assistant was the only one not on iOS right away, although most Andorid phones don't have Assistant yet either, and iOS is rumored to get it this week.

Android N had very little new to show off

Just like this year, Android N had been in beta for a while and there were no major announcements about it at I/O. Keep that in mind if you were hoping for Google to reveal the "real" Android O updates tomorrow. They may, but history says they won't.

Android Wear 2.0 is pretty blah

I was really expecting Google to put more wood behind this arrow, but they barely moved this wagon forward. As I wrote yesterday:

Frankly, this release feels like Google is still playing catch up with watchOS 1.0. Apple is likely to show off watchOS 3 in a month and pull even further ahead. Clearly Google did not put the manpower behind this product this year and it shows in the minimal update. There aren't any big new ideas or substantial changes in how you’ll use your Android Wear watch day in and day out, and that’s a shame.

Android Wear 2.0 was finally released in February and is still just barely rolling out to most smart watches. It has not received much hype, as this is probably the first time you've thought about Android Wear since last I/O.

Allo and Duo are not long for this world

But now we’re going to a place where you’re going to have to use Hangouts for SMS, Allo for instant messaging, and Duo for video calls. It baffles me why you will need 3 different apps to do what is already handled in 1. And don’t tell me it’s because of bots…

Allo is currently in the 261 spot on Google Play and Duo is at 216. Meanwhile, none of my friends or family use the service (I messaged one person I know and they asked me to please use Hangouts like a normal person).

Google's I/O conference last year was big on flash, but little in substance that will actually move users away from iOS. Google Assistant has proven to be a big win for the company, as it has asserted itself as the best voice assistant out there for a lot of things. Google Home, which I don't own yet, is a strong competitor to the Amazon Echo which has been gaining popularity.

But beyond the Assistant-related announcements, everything else was a bit of a letdown. Wear 2.0 was delayed and received a lukewarm reception from users. Nougat is just now hitting 7% of devices, and even then I've heard from multiple people that it's not an update I should be bothered my devices aren't all getting. And Android Instant Apps are a cool idea that has not taken off at all. I actually forgot Instant Apps were a thing until I read rundowns of last years show today. I use Android everyday and I read multiple Android sites and listen to a few podcasts about it as well. Instant Apps are just not a thing. People complain about the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pros, but at least they say something about it.

I don't know what Google has in store for us this week, but it is my sincere hope the have something a little more exciting than last year.