Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Google I/O Goes to School

For those who weren't glued to their computers for the three hour keynote from the Google I/O Conference today, here is a quick recap highlighting the important pieces for education.

Google Play for Education
If you have any experience with mid to large scale deployments of tablets in schools, you know what a nightmare the management and "pushing" of apps has been. Add in the logistics of credit cards or gift cards and who owns what and it has been a nightmare. Today's announcement from Google appears to be all our dreams coming true. Google Play for Education is an App Store of sorts built by teachers for teachers. One click push for classrooms of apps and an account tied to an allotment for funding. In true Google fashion, it will just work. Finally!

Conversational Search
One of my favorite tweets of the day came from my friend Rafranz Davis (@RafranzDavis) "Kids can literally "Ask google"…literally! #googleNow #io13" And she's right. From any Internet connected device (tablet, phone, desktop, etc) you can now ask Google anything. This is news, big news. You can activate the search with a "hotword" without touching a thing. This isn't a smarty pants little personal assistant. Conversational Search searches the entire breadth and depth of Google to come back with answers and information. And the best part.... It helps you figure out what you want! You dont even have to ask a question. You could simply say "places to eat in Houston" or "Houston traffic report". If you want a generic personal assistant that is limited to the very specific questions you ask, hey that's your business. But if you want the help of the entire Internet, then conversational search is for you. You may have heard, Google is pretty good at that whole search thing.

The bonuses for education? Thing physically or visually impaired. Think setting the whole system for a language you are learning instead of your native tongue. Think young students who are limited when searching by spelling or typing ability. Think of the possibilities.

Auto Awesome
I must be fully forthcoming. I cut my teeth on teaching eight graders computer apps including PhotoShop. Didn't know a thing about the software when I started but figured as long as I had a general idea of where we were going and a really talented kid or two... It worked out beautifully. I feel in love with design and frequent the many online tools that have the same flair. And yet with the click of a button, Google made my years of work feel.... Almost wasted. The new image enhancements take the average photo (talking to you soccer mom and you first time grandma) and enhances the photo fixing lighting, saturation, red eye, etc. That in and of itself is pretty. It does a far greater job than anything else I've seen on the market. The jaw dropper? Photos uploaded to G+ can have Auto Awesome applied to them. When Google recognizes a series of similar shots it may stick them together in a pano or animate them as a gif. Have five shots of the same group and in each one someone is inevitably not smiling? No prob Bob! Google will fix that too! Yeah that's pretty Awesome in my book. That should be a compelling reason to go to a digital yearbook!

It's late and my tired eyes grow weary. Come back tomorrow for my personal favorites:
Hangout Extension and Canopy
Google Wallet
Gaming
Goodnight Googlers!

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