Insight Author
Garrett Sheridan
Principal UX and Product Designer

OK Google, what’s next?

As part of the Google Developer Agency program we always have access to the latest tools and technologies to help us to deliver the highest quality apps and services to our clients. We were recently invited to visit Google’s King’s Cross, London office to take part in Google Agencies Day Europe.

December 2, 2017
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As part of the Google Developer Agency program we always have access to the latest tools and technologies to help us to deliver the highest quality apps and services to our clients. We were recently invited to visit Google’s King’s Cross, London office to take part in Google Agencies Day Europe.

Throughout the day we were brought up to date with Google’s latest advances and learned how we might use these advances to bring value to our customers’ businesses.

Presentation topics included Google Assistant, Android app design and development, Progressive Web Apps, Instant Apps and Artificial Intelligence. These were presented by industry thought leaders from Google and beyond.

My personal highlight was spending time with one of Google’s major design evangelists and material design expert, Nick Butcher, where we had the opportunity to walk through some of the apps we have designed and get direct one on one feedback from the authority on the subject. Thankfully he gave us the thumbs up! Nick also brought us through some of the latest developments on the Android platform and demonstrated how we can use these to benefit the end user.

Google's Bowie Themed Offices in Kingscross, London

Success in the enterprise

Jason Wong, an engineering partner at Google updated us on some of the developments that Google are making for enterprise software, in particular kiosks and point of sale devices and how we might help our clients to take advantage of opportunities in this area.

Finding Success in the Google Play Store

Kevin Fives, from Google Play Business development, delivered an insightful presentation filled with practical tips and stats that can help your app to succeed and stand out in the Google Play Store.

Topics included onboarding and sign up, how to seamlessly sign in across devices and developments around notifications to make them smarter and more relevant.

What struck me most about Kevin’s presentation was his use of statistics in his chosen case studies that demonstrated, in concrete terms, how following best practices can have a significant impact on the success of your app. One of the advantages of managing the Play store is that Google can analyse trends and patterns and determine what traits are more likely to make an app successful. Fives says that making sure your app is “a good citizen” on the user’s device, not being a drain on battery and loading quickly, is extremely important as this can have a huge impact on reviews in the Play Store. These may seem obvious but other key things to remember, at a high level, when designing an Android app are;

  • Design beautiful apps
  • Develop for all users
  • Engage and retain users
  • Make payments seamless
  • Focus on quality.

What may not be completely obvious but can have a big impact on your success on Play is how you optimise experiences by building for new form factors, from Google Daydream to watches, mobile and tablet to desktop, television and car. It appears that crossing the boundaries and utilising as much of Google’s brand surface and touchpoints as possible, within your specific use case, will also help with your success in the Google Play Store.

Time to develop for the Google Assistant?

Krzysztof Bielski, Partner Technology Manager at Google took us through some of the latest Google Assistant developments. He focused on Actions on Google, New UI options for interacting with the assistant visually, and the forthcoming app directory for actions.

Of course, he believes that now is a good time to start developing for Google Assistant. Here’s why.

  • Reach new users across 100M+ devices
  • Benefit from first mover advantage on a new uncrowded platform
  • Authentically connect through a conversation with new and existing users
  • Develop technical know-how and help shape the platform

As the platform is still relatively new it can be difficult to conceive use cases for it. Bielski suggests that we focus on finding the micro-moments where we can become assistive. Focusing on statements like “I want to know…”,  “I want to go…”,  “I want to do…”’  “I want to buy…” is a good place to start. As relationships are formed we can move from statements like “I want to know when the next train is” to more transactional statements like “I want to buy a first-class ticket for the 11.30 to Cork”.

I will admit to having been quite sceptical about Google Assistant’s utility but having had a Google Home mini in my kitchen for a while I am becoming a convert. Especially after witnessing my two-year-old son saying “Hey Google, play Ghostbusters song” and it seamlessly starts playing from Spotify and my five-year-old surreptitiously adding treats to the family shopping list. I believe this platform will quickly become mainstream, especially as more services become available.

Journey to becoming an AI-led agency

Perhaps the most interesting and enlightening presentation was from Karim Beguir, CEO of Instadeep. He suggests that becoming an AI-led Agency requires patience, but is accessible to anyone willing to learn.

He demonstrated how advances in cloud-based solutions, customisable machine learning tools and resources for upskilling can come together to allow agencies to deliver intelligent systems for their clients that would not have been conceivable until very recently.

Conclusion

The Google Agencies day provided an opportunity to step away from day to day project work and see first hand the tools and services that Google are betting on for the near future. It allowed us to meet our peers and counterparts from agencies across Europe and get a shared understanding of the problems our clients are facing and how we might help to address them.

As many of these technologies have not yet reached mainstream adoption it can be difficult to understand the breadth of potential use cases for them. It was somewhat comforting to see that Marino are currently working with many of the technologies that were being spoken about as well as running experiments so that when our clients are ready to implement tools such as machine learning and Actions for Google Assistant, we are too.

If you’d like to get a deeper understanding of  how any of these technologies can help your business or see a demo of them in action we are here to help.

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