Core Products or UX Initiatives/Announcements - Google
UX initiatives and announcements from Google for its core products in 2019 include the acquisition of Looker, the launch of Project Euphonia, and multiple updates within Google and the Android developer ecosystem. Google expects that its cloud data visualization and analytics capacity will improve with the acquisition of Looker. Project Euphonia targets improving speech recognition from persons with speech impairments and diverse speech patterns. UX updates within the Android ecosystem targeted Jetpack, Jetpack Compose, and the Motion Editor, in addition to Google News, Assistant, Fonts, Search, and Lens.
Google UX News
- On June 6, 2019, Google announced the acquisition of Looker, a business intelligence platform for data applications and embedded analytics. The acquisition of Looker provides customers of Google Cloud with a solution offering more comprehensive analytics, including the ability to ingest and integrate data to plan insights, embed analytics, and create visualizations. Customers will be better able to harness data in service of digital transformation.
- In May 2019, Google launched a program under Project Euphonia to use AI to improve the ability of a computer to understand persons with diverse speech patterns or speech impairments. The company has partnered with the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TD) and the ALS Residence Initiative (ALSRI) for the project. Recorded samples from persons with ALS, along with samples submitted voluntarily from Google users around the world, will be the baseline for developing the solutions.
Google Font UX Update
- On February 5, 2019, Google Fonts announced the addition of five Simplified and two Traditional Chinese fonts for use when working with Chinese text.
- This update attempts to ease slow single font file delivery after an analysis of public web pages took place for usage of characters to create an "optimized font slicing pattern" for the language. This allowed browsers to download only the portions of a font containing the characters they need.
Google News and Google Search UX Update
- At the Google I/O 2019 event, Google announced an update to Google News which features a story timeline designed to show the evolution of the coverage of a news event. Users will now be able to see how the story unfolded visually within the context of the event.
- At the I/O event, Google also announced an update to 3D images and podcasts in Google Search impacting UX. Users of podcasts can listen to, and search for specific podcasts, directly from the search results. Users will also be able to place 3D images, at scale, in their real-world environments via augmented reality.
- On Android phones, Google Lens will now be available from the Google Search bar. This will allow users to take a photo of a sign or text and request a real time translation into over a dozen languages. The updates to Google Lens will also allow users to identify the most popular dishes available on a restaurant's menu.
- Users can expect faster latency from Google Assistant with its move from the cloud to the device. Users can request multiple actions from the device without having to say "OK Google" every time.
Android UX Updates
- Accessibility features added to Android Q include Live Caption, Live Relay, and updates to Google Assistant. Live Caption will allow on-device live captioning for videos. Live Relay grants persons with speech disabilities the ability to dial and receive phone calls using Google Assistant.
- Digital Wellbeing will now feature a focus mode. This mode will allow users to pause apps temporarily to remain focused on projects being worked upon. Parental controls and daily screen time limits are other features added.
- Updates to Android Jetpack include Benchmarking, Viewbinding, and CameraX. Benchmarking will allow users to measure the performance of the app easier, and Viewbinding, a type-safe solution, allows for easier access views from the Code. CameraX makes the development experience simpler by allowing the developer to focus on the app instead of inter-operability issues with other devices in the Android ecosystem.
- Released for open source at Google I/O in 2018, Jetpack Compose is a toolkit for building native UI. Developers received access to Compose at the Android Dev Summit in 2019 after updates to the toolkit allowed for the addition of Gradle dependencies in projects using Android Studio Canary 1. This update made the toolkit much easier to use for developers, and included features such as an option to add Compose activity to the Setup Wizard, inter-operability between Compose and the existing View system, and previews in the editor.
- Updates to Motion Editor will allow developers to click and swipe handlers in the editor while code is being created behind the scenes.
Additional UX Updates
- For the MWC Barcelona event on February 28, 2019, Google added augmented reality elements to the Android Annual Partner Walk scavenger hunt. The design director and designer of Google AR/VR, Joshua To and Steve Toh respectively, gave five insights for building and improving engagement with the app. The five insights are to test assumptions, ensure usefulness, bring delight, be responsive, and learn from mistakes.
- In September 2019, Google announced the release of an open source database of over 3,000 AI generated videos created using publicly available algorithms. This database is now available to the research community for developing deep fake video detection methods.
To source UX initiatives and announcements from Google in 2019, the research team began with a search of the press releases from parent company Alphabet's website. This yielded information on the acquisition of Looker, which will add to the data visualization and analytics capacity in Google Cloud. Next, the team searched for updates from the Google I/O conference held in May 2019. This provided information on updates impacting the user experience of Google News, Assistant, Search, and Lens, among others. The research team then turned its attention to news coming out of the Android Dev Summit in October 2019. This source provided information related to updates to Jetpack, Jetpack Compose, and the Motion Editor. The team also reviewed the Google Design and Google AI blogs. These sources provided information on the updates to Google Fonts and on Project Euphonia.