Google IO 2018 live blog: here's the latest from Google's big conference

Google IO 2018

Welcome to our live blog of Google I/O 2018. This annual meeting of the minds is primarily about teaching developers best practices, but it also serves as the launchpad for a ton of exciting announcements - stuff we can expect to see from Google within the next year. 

There's sure to be a load of info shared on Android P and AI (and lots of it). But will we also see new phones, tablets, VR/AR headsets and self-driving cars? There’s only one way to find out - so check out the live feed below.

(11:50am PST) The keynote has wrapped up! There's clearly plenty to digest, and we'll help to break down the biggest announcements with coverage, so stay tuned. Thanks for reading.

(11:47am PST) Waymo is looking to expand in the East coast (best coast) as it's showing how far its driverless snow navigation is going. Starting out, snow tricked the car's many sensors, but with machine learning, it's able to ignore the noise and focus solely on the things that matter. In some ways, it could be safer than cars that have a driver.

(11:40am PST) Waymo is the only company that has a fleet of self-driving cars running on public roads, currently in Phoenix, AZ. It will be the first stop for its its driverless program that's open to the public - you'll be able to summon a totally driverless car to one of its summoning points around town.

Waymo was able to reduce pedestrian recognition issues, thanks to its deep learning integration via Google, by 100 times, which has helped it make big advancements in the past few years.

(11:36am PST) Google Lens is being enhanced. In addition to making it to more phones, like the LG G7 ThinQ and many others within the default camera app, it can copy/paste text from, say, a written recipe. 

It's this seemingly small stuff that could really make a difference in how we use smartphones moving forward. Google is leaning hard on machine learning to help correctly identify objects in different lighting and angles, and judging from the demoes, progress is going well.

(11:31am PST) Google is reinventing how walking navigation works. This is good, as the current model incorrectly assumes that you're a car.

It shows you a real-world capture of the environment around you and presents the map overlay on the bottom of the phone's screen. Additionally, it's using AR to put labels on landmarks in real-time, flexing some of its Google Lens muscle.

Best of all, a cute little fox can spawn in your world to show you which way to walk.

(11:27am PST) Google Maps will soon receive some updates that bring more personalized info to the app.

"For You" will show you more stuff to do and places to explore in your area. "Your Match" is another new one that makes visit suggestions based on your previous favorites. If you're dying to try something new, this could be something worth trying.

Perhaps the coolest new feature coming to Maps is the ability to present some restaurants or activities to friends and family, then let them vote on them so you can get a sense on who's down with what.

(11:20am PST) The Android P beta has officially launched and the list of supported devices is huge compared to previous years. The Essential Phone and many others from manufacturers like OnePlus, Xiaomi, Nokia and more will be eligible to update today.

(11:19am PST) We're shifting to the final tenet, digital well-being. Sameer Samat has taken the stage.

I don't know about you, but a lot of us are completely glued to our smartphones and it's difficult to find a balance when so much of life exists on the internet. Android P's Dashboard is part of Google's effort to help users find a better balance with their phones.

"Shush" is a new feature that lets you enter Do Not Disturb mode simply by turning the phone onto its screen with the back up. 

"Wind down" mode phases your phone's screen to gray to remind you to go to bed. Samat says that your brain finds grayscale far less interesting than full color, so it should be rather effective.

(11:10am PST) ML Kit is Google's new machine learning framework that it's releasing to developers that enables on-device machine learning for more apps to take advantage of Google's AI juice. This way, it's likely to get even more skilled.

Moving to the simplicity tenet of Android P, Google has refined the look and feel of P. The first change? It has adopted the iPhone X-like "swipe-up" gesture. It's not quite the same, however, as it pulls up the multitasking page and suggests a few apps. The new home navigation is made specifically for phones with small bezels and it seems to be chock full with gesture support.

(11:03am PST) We're shifting gears to Android. Dave Burke has taken the stage. 

Android P is all about AI with its three tenets being intelligence, simplicity and digital well-being. 

It will feature Adaptive Battery, on-device machine learning algorithms that adapt to your usage patterns to save battery life. It's like Doze, but with AI smarts powering it. Google says it sees a 30% reduction in CPU app wakeups, which is staggering.

Burke says that predicted apps, located in the slide-up drawer, have taken off in Android Oreo and that it's taking things a step further with app actions, letting you perform specific actions without launching the entire app.

(10:58am PST) Google Play Newsstand is now Google News, launching today in 127 countries. If it's not on your phone or tablet today, it will be by next week.

(10:47am PST) A new feature coming to Android P is called Android Dashboard. It tells you how much you use (waste) on each app, letting you set limits on select apps so that you can get back to your life.

On the same topic, notification digest will sum up the daily happenings all in one blast, so that you can do more with your phone time.

(10:42am PST)  HOLD THE PHONE: Google Assistant can make calls on my behalf, making appointments automatically.  It's called Google Duplex and it's the result of many years of research and investment, according to Pichai. 

It will be rolling out as an experiment in the coming weeks, though it's not clear who will have access to it at this point.

(10:38am PST) Google Assistant can now arrange food delivery, so that's the rest of my life sorted. 

Coming to Android this summer, Google is bringing an all-in-one Assistant-curated snapshot that pulls together your schedule and a list of activities and apps to get you started with your day. It will arrive on iOS at a later date.

Assistant is also invading Google Maps, letting you share ETAs with contacts, as well as starting up music from within the app.

(10:34am PST) Google Assistant-ready smart displays will go on sale in July. Aside from having Assistant and the best of Android TV packed in, it seems like this will be the perfect device to have in your kitchen to show you recipes.

(10:31am PST) Scott Huffman has taken the stage, announcing that Google Assistant has made its way onto over 500 million devices, working on over 5,000 different types of products, ranging from phones to cars.

"Continued conversation" is a top-requested feature, allowing you continue a conversation with Google Home without beckoning "HEY GOOGLE" approximately one million times. It lets you ask for multiple things at once, Multiple Actions, it's called - it will be released later this month.

Google is expanding its Google Assistant for families, now demanding that kids add "please" to their queries, which is hilarious. Sometimes I find myself saying "please" to my Google Home and it feels a little weird, but I feel good about it when I consider that I'll perhaps be spared when the robots take over.

(10:22am PST) Pichai is touting some impressive Google Photos features that leverage its AI prowess. You'll soon be able to remove the color from a background to make the subject stand up. Another example showed an older black and white family photo colorized, all by the AI. It got a lot of 'woo' in the audience, and it's deserved.

In other news, Google Assistant's voice has been supercharged with six new voices that offer a few more variations. A clip showed John Legend voicing Google Assistant, and it's actually coming later this year. How goofy and wonderful.

(10:17am PST) Gboard will be getting an update aimed toward adding accessibility features, specifically morse code, to the keyboard. This is an awesome move. It's available in beta later today, according to Pichai.

Shifting focus to Gmail, Smart Compose lets users hit tab in a new message and it will auto-compose an email according to your dictionary. So, the more you use Gmail, the better it will be able to predict your next word.

(10:09am PST) Moving on, Pichai speaks on AI as the core of Google business, and he says it impacts millions of people around the world, but frankly, that seems a little modest. 

Google AI is spearheading research on predicting cardiovascular risk by checking out scans of eyes, which thanks to machine learning, can tell what kind of risk you have of growing sick.

(10:03am PST) Google CEO Sundar Pichai has taken the stage following quite the inspirational little short video. 

First off, the hamburger emoji. "We didn't know so many people cared about where the cheese was", Pichai said. We didn't either!

(10:00am PST) Alright, the keynote has officially begun. Check in with our guide on how to watch Google IO 2018 to follow along with the live stream, and check back here for moment-to-moment insights.

(09:50am PST) We're killing a little time just before the keynote starts at 10am. Google demoed its World Draw experience and we took to the drawing pad to whip up a creation most artistic, if we do say so ourselves.

Things are about to get started, so stay tuned.

(09:27am PST) There's currently some bleeping and blooping going on at center stage at Shoreline Amphitheater. We're told that this is an experiment with music and machine learning - it's hard to tell where the music stops and the machine learning starts is hard, but either way, it's some real good bleeps and bloops.

(8:41am PST) We're now seated inside of the venue well ahead of the 10am starting time of the keynote. 

Now is a good a time as ever to smell the roses, take a nice breath and prepare oneself for the deluge of information coming our way soon.

(8:00am PST) We’ve made our way into Shoreline Amphitheater here in Mountain View, CA. The sun is out and I’ve applied the correct amount of sunscreen to protect myself from it, as well as the burn of these fire-hot announcements...hopefully.  

I'm here with Michelle Fitzsimmons, who as a native to this part of the US definitely takes this beautiful weather for granted. As an East coaster myself, I'm gobbling it up.

We're being told that we'll begin queuing shortly to head into the amphitheater. We'll provide an update once we're inside.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.