Last week, Google hosted its annual Google I/O developer conference in California, during which it unveiled some of its latest hardware and software updates which are due to be released throughout 2019.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai stated: “We are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done. This morning, we’ll introduce you to many products built on a foundation of user trust and privacy.”

So what announcements were made and how significant will they be to the marketing world?

A cheaper Pixel phone

Google has now released the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, a more affordable version of their flagship phone.

This version is designed to appeal to new customers who want a cutting-edge smartphone at a more affordable price. This version will be equipped with AR-enabled Google Maps which superimposes directions on the real world.

Google Lens update

Google Lens will be updated and will have the ability to contextualise a restaurant menu or information on a piece of paper.

Lens will give users the ability to search for specific dishes on a menu and view images of the dish based on Google Maps information.

When a receipt is scanned, Lens will bring up a calculator, allowing users to split the bill or, when pointed at a sign in a foreign language, will provide a text-to-speech translation.

Our view

Google Maps are already ubiquitous and we’re well past the time when businesses with a brick-and-mortar presence should have a local strategy in place. If you’re not sure whether you’re maximising your visibility in local search, it’s not too late to start!

Google Nest Hub Max

The Google Nest Hub Max is the bigger screen version of Google’s Home Hub, featuring a new front camera for video calls, messages, gestures and personalised on-screen information which can be accessed through facial recognition.

Nest users will be able to use one Google account for all of their devices rather than logging into the Nest app.

In a bid to provide reassurance privacy-wise, the new device will have a switch to turn off the microphone and camera and have a feature which allows users to have their data automatically deleted after three to 18 months.

Upgrades to Google’s Assistant

Google’s Assistant will be upgraded to be much faster than the previous version. In addition, the technology has been improved to allow it to understand users in a much better way and users will be able to string multiple requests together without having to start each request with “Hey Google”.

Dark mode for Android Q

Android Q is the next generation of Google’s mobile operating system. It is being developed with a new dark mode which makes backgrounds black and text white to make it easier on the eyes and battery life.

Security and privacy

This year, a huge emphasis was put on security and privacy so many of Google’s updates have this at the core. It will become easier for users to access their Google security settings from their smartphone where they will be able to delete web history and app activity.

Google Maps is being overhauled, with a new incognito mode that won’t remember search results or dropped pins. This brings Maps in-line with Chrome and YouTube.

Our view

Marketers should remain aware that Google’s increasing focus on privacy could lead to a further reduction in the data they make freely available. So far, none of these updates have actively changed what we can see, but increased awareness from a consumer point of view alongside current regulations like GDPR mean that we should be extra careful.

A new speed report is coming to Google Search Console

Love it or hate it, there is now escaping that the new GSC is here to stay. The latest announcement is that Google have added a new speed report for beta testing. Not much info was provided but if you want to be a beta tester go to https://bit.ly/speedreport-tester and sign-up.

An opt-in program for high definition images

Lot of situations benefit from high quality imagery such as a luxury hotel giving the feel for its location and amenities. While these images are often less than ideal for use on a website due to their size, Google still want access to that imagery and is providing an opt-in program that allows you to feed these images directly to Google for use in its products.

Googlebot gets an update

Initially announced on Tuesday, Google’s Martin Splitt and Zoe Clifford went into a lot of detail on how Googlebot has been updated to use modern JavaScript features and while remain up-to-date in the future.

Our view

Key takeaways were:

  1. Googlebot and the Web Rendering Service now use Chrome 74
  2. The Googlebot User-agent has not yet been changed to allow people to adjust their tools.
  3. Testing tools have not yet been updated to use Chrome 74 but this will be happening shortly.
  4. Rendering is still carried out in a second wave.

We will be covering the Googlebot updates in more detail soon!