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Insights from 7N Angular Expert: Google I/O conference

Google hosted its annual I/O developer conference at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California in May this year. Google employees were represented across its different departments sharing hands-on advice on different topics. Our 7N angular expert Dariusz Kalbarczyk visited the developer festival and this is all the cool new stuff he experienced at Google I/O developers conference:

7N Angular Expert featured in this article:

Dariusz Kalbarczyk, 7N angular expert is the co-founder of the group Angular Warsaw, Angular Krakow and GDG Warsaw. He is a skilled programmer with over 17 years of IT industry experience. While working with Angular JS for the past 5 years, he participated in the creation of a cutting edge banking transaction system designed for mobile platforms, and a group insurance support system, among others.

In May Dariusz attended three large conferences, including Google I/O (8–11 May). In this article, he will give you an insight into some of the most interesting takeaways from the conference and the things that amazed him the most.

The annual Google I/O conference

Google I/O is an annual conference where the participants have the opportunity to gain an insight into the most important achievements of Google from the last 12 months as well as the plans for the year to come. As always, the event took place in Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, near Googleplex. It was not my first visit to the seat of this giant company, but each time the place makes a great impression on me.

Googleplex is a campus with its own infrastructure, bikes, park, gadget shop and two small pools. Following mandatory shopping in the shops, it was time for the conference which already started on the 7th of May for me, since there was the Global GDG & Community Groups Leaders Summit accompanying Google I/O held in Sunnyvale.

The entire day I listened to many inspiring presentations, paying particularly attention to the speech by Scott Heiferman, Co-Founder & CEO at Meetup and Tomasz Wojda of Warsaw GDG (Google Developers Group). For me, as the leader of the Angular Warsaw community and event organiser, the most important aspect was the opportunity to meet other organisers from all over the world as well as the exchange of experience and ideas on how we can serve our communities better.

Let us now go on to Google I/O. "Make good things together" was the motto used by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google to greet the approximately 7000 participants in the amphitheatre. 

 The star of the show – Google AI

The conference’s leitmotif was artificial intelligence, its role and influence on each of us, as well as the ubiquitous IoT. Sundar went on straight to the point and showed some interesting technological innovations, which hastened the heart beats not only of the conference participants, but also the programmers watching it online. Google I/O is by definition addressed primarily to programmers. The entire ecosystem, where they can touch the latest technologies, play and experiment with them, is prepared for them.

Returning to what we saw on the stage and to the artificial intelligence, what impressed me most was the opportunities opening up for us in the field of medicine. Let me use the example of the algorithm, discussed by Sundar, helping to diagnose eye damage or another much more spectacular one an algorithm used to anticipate the patient's diseases based on their history. I am a great fan of artificial intelligence, looking forward to its new incarnations. Some people are afraid of the effects of its improper application. Remember, however, this is just a tool on a preliminary stage of development.

Every tool can be used for good or bad purpose. The same is true for the artificial intelligence. It is incredible that the inventions shown in science fiction films made in the 80s or 90s are more and more popularly used or are an advanced prototype now.

Artificial intelligence is a huge kick forward to us. In a couple of years, we will no longer discuss if we should use it, but rather how to incorporate it our projects. Today, we cannot imagine a company operating without computers, while in some time there won’t be any companies left not using machine learning to a smaller or larger degree. This deserves a separate article, but for now let us to the conference. Another titbit was the presentation of Gboard keyboard features, allowing to translate Morse code into speech. The advantages of this solution were presented in a video, with disabled Tany who helped to build this device.

Google Assistant

Let us go on to other innovations related to Google Assistant. I have already used GA for one year, chiefly for entertainment or for listening to any online radio. However, it is used most frequently by my six-year-old daughter, who can talk to it while playing in the room. The assistant tells her stories, responds to the weirdest questions she asks in English. For the time being the assistant supports only English. At the conference we learnt that the service will be made officially available in 80 countries and extended to support 30 different languages. The assistant got six new voices which less and less resemble the speech synthesizer and which further makes talking to the Assistant more natural resembling real human speech. Also, the phrase "Hey Google" repeated before every inquiry was abandoned, which will make the conversation much more natural.

Interestingly, the assistant can call a mechanic, a hairdresser or a dentist for us and make an appointment. It is also able to respond to questions, as in the attempted booking of a restaurant table for four people in a place accepting booking for five people and more.

Google Photos

Google Photos application also seems interesting. It will enable us to recognise documents automatically and save them in pdf format. New, useful functions were acquired also by Google Lens application. Using it, we can save a text from the photo, e.g. our notes, in a digital format and paste it in the document or e-mail.

Android P

Another great presentation was the new Android P system. Here the artificial intelligence is truly spectacular. In my opinion, one of the most useful functions will be ensuring that we do not spend too much time with our smartphone in hand. The idea is to impose the limits gradually and get accustomed to less and less frequent use of the device. For example, we can set up that we don’t want to use a given application for more than one hour a day, and afterwards the icon will be greyed out. We will see if this works in practice. Summing up, Android P is to be simplified, more intelligent, friendlier and is to support some gestures, just like the latest iPhone.

Aparna Chennapragada, head of product for Google’s Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Vision-based products, on the other hand, presented innovative solutions in Google Maps. First and foremost, she presented the situation in which a user gets lost when trying to find their way in places where the system has a poor connection . For example, we exit the metro station andwish to head for the north, but where is the north? From now on, the position can be identified not only using GPS, but also VPS (Visual Positioning System), or recognising the surroundings by the phone’s integrated camera.

  

Waymo

Google is not indifferent to the latest trend, i.e. autonomous vehicles. Waymo shall be the first to use autonomous vehicles for service provision. The first city on the list is Phoenix in U.S. Let us, however, remember, Google I/O is, first and foremost, a conference for programmers. Let us, therefore, go on to what we like most.

TensorFlow.js

Let us start from TensorFlow.js, an open-source JavaScript library for training and implementing ML models in the browser and Node.js. TensorFlow.js is a terrific way to start learning or if you are a ML programmer not familiar with JavaScript. Machine learning activated in the browser offers new opportunities, including an interactive ML. The user does not need to install any software, any drivers, does not need to add any libraries. It is enough to start your browser.

What can you do with TensorFlow.js? 

    • You can import an existing, pre-trained model for inference.
    • You can re-train an imported model.
    • You can author models directly in browser.

For more information, visit https://js.tensorflow.org

What’s new in Angular

One of the most important presentations for me was the one by Kara Erickson & Stephen Fluin "What's new in Angular". Let me stop at this speech for a while.

Initially, Stephen told a bit about the philosophy behind the most popular front-end framework worldwide. He emphasized the importance of the applications which can be created thanks to it, with the developers' experiences on the second position and the community everyone feels well in on the third. Nothing more, nothing less, I can sign my name under those statements.

I believe that thanks to such a philosophy, Angular has already won more than one million users worldwide. Stephen confirmed also close cooperation of Angular core team with NativeScript core team. The objective is, among others, to incorporate the NativeScript functionality in Angular CLI. Let us go back to the main topic, or the innovations in Angular. One of the major assumptions of Angular creators is the removal of the patch called versioning and focus on discussing new functionalities. What does it mean for us, the programmers? First and foremost, the painless version upgrade, or simply speaking, compatibility with older versions. It has not been so obvious so far. Have we reached the stage in Angular development, when we can afford to add solely new functionalities, without them being detriment to the components implemented before? Let me leave this question without any answer so far, we will see. Stability has always been an obstacle to innovation. This is where "ng update" is to help, as thanks to it our project will always be up-to-date. Another innovation, this time presented by Kara Ericson, was a new Ivy render.

 

Despite its very initial phase, it is highly impressive. For example, the simplest project created in Angular, the so-called "hello-world", can render up to the size of as little as 3,2 KB. The major assumptions of Ivy project include smaller, faster and easier application. For all changes to Angular version 6 visit the link: https://blog.angular.io/version-6-of-angular-now-available-cc56b0efa7a4

IoT

As I have already mentioned, the second leitmotif of the conference was IoT. During the event, every participant received Google Home Mini (https://store.google.com/us/product/google_home_mini?hl=en-US) and the Android Things Starter Kit (https://shop.technexion.com/pico-pi-imx7-startkit-rainbow-hat.html).

This is incredible how many different opportunities we are offered by this small kit. One of the exhibition tents in the amphitheatre was devoted to Android Things. What impressed me most was, please note, flowers able to identify the sense of wellbeing and change colours and shapes depending on our mood.

 

PANOPTES

Let me share one more story with you. During the conference I met the creator of PANOPTES project (Panoptic Astronomical Networked Observatories for a Public Transiting Exoplanets Survey), Wilfred Gee.

During a nice talk, he told me about the assumptions behind this project. What is PANOPTES? It is a citizen science project which aims to build low cost, robotic telescopes which can be used to detect transiting exoplanets.

I am greatly impressed by the project. Some years ago, I could see the size of observatories on Mauna Kea on Big Island. PANOPTES collects data (sky photos made with DSLR cameras) from various parts of our planet and combines them in one large photo, creating a detailed picture of our sky.

ngGirls workshop

As I mentioned in the beginning, the conference started for me one day earlier with Global GDG & Community Groups Leaders Summit and ended one day later with a day-long ngGirls workshop. That was the second ngGirls workshop (https://twitter.com/angulargirls) I helped to organise. The first one was held in the seat of 7N Poland, accompanying NG Poland 2017 conference. ngGirls workshops are free workshops for girls starting their adventure with Angular.

Interested in reading more?

Let me recommend some links, where you can find more information on the Google I/O conference and selected technologies:

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