Event Recap: 3 Standout Moments from Google's Annual Developer Conference

June 20, 2024

Google’s annual developer conference, dubbed Google I/O (or just “I/O”), took place for two days beginning on May 14. The first day, its long-awaited, buzzed-about “keynote day,” is touted as being one of the tech industry’s biggest events of the year. It’s when Google unveils what it’s working on, plus new products and features, as well as what it’s focusing on in the future. 

Similar to years past, I/O 2024 took place for a small live audience from the Shoreline Amphitheater just down the road from its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, with the lion’s share of attendees tuning in via livestream.

Though technically designed to appeal to developers, I/O has also become about enticing Google’s more than 1 billion active users. Take it from CEO Sundar Pichai, who introduced “Ask Photos” at last month’s event, telling viewers about the experimental feature that allows users to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to search through their photo and video library using natural language.

Here are three other notable moments from Google’s flagship event.

  1. Exciting Onsite Experiences

Improv musician and viral beat-maker Marc "Loop Daddy" Rebillet kicked off I/O by popping out of a giant coffee mug wearing a rainbow bathrobe—a nod to many of his songs, which tell listeners to get out of bed in the morning. He went on to perform a musical set that infused a demo of Google’s DJ mode, which includes text-to-music features. The kickoff was untraditional for a tech conference, to say the least.

Google IO

Throughout the rest of the event, the more than 4,000 developers, members of the media, and Google staffers who attended I/O IRL were encouraged to attend an immersive event produced by Sparks—a Philadelphia-based brand experience agency recently acquired by Freeman.

The to-do consisted of informational breakout sessions, interactive product demos and workshops, as well as the “Developer Block Party,” which took over more than 10.5 acres within the Shoreline Amphitheater property.

Though tech is typically the primary focus of I/O, experiential moments have abounded over the years, including in 2019, when the conference hosted festival-style evening events featuring Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips performing a song accompanied by AI-enabled inflatable fruit.

  1. An Abundance of AI

Google made more than 100 announcements at its I/O—most of which had to do with the latest updates to its AI tool, the Gemini app. For reference, there were also more than 100 mentions of the word “AI” throughout the two-hour keynote at the I/O, according to UK-based Internet expert DigiAlps.

Google IO

Google said it worked its Gemini tech into its Google TV operating system to create more personalized descriptions for movies and television shows that cater to viewers’ genre, actor, and language preferences. 

Also new, Google Search will now incorporate more of Gemini’s tech with the company’s new “Grounding” feature, which links the generative AI to the internet for more factual responses. For reference, without this feature, AI models spit out responses based on learned patterns from a data set gathered over a specific period of time, meaning it can’t tell you what the weather forecast is for today. “Grounding” changes that.

In addition, new to Google-owned YouTube are AI-generated quizzes, allowing users watching educational videos to “raise their hand” and ask questions about the video they’re viewing. Check out this Google blog post for more information about the 100-plus announcements it made at its I/O.

  1. A Focus on Digital Storytelling

Content marketers rejoice: Google made some announcements just for you that showcases its big bet on digital storytelling, including Veo, which Google calls its “most capable video generation model yet.” Veo has the ability to generate videos with 1080p resolution that are more than one minute long, including with its next-gen text-to-video AI tech. 

Google IO

At I/O, developers were shown a case study of Veo courtesy of filmmaker and actor Donald Glover—best known under his stage name, “Childish Gambino”—where he said that the tech allows everybody to become a director. “At the heart of this is just storytelling,” Glover said, adding: “That’s what’s cool about [Veo], is you can make a mistake faster. That’s all you really want at the end of the day, at least in art.” View that video for yourself here.

Google also debuted high-quality image generator Imagen 3—and boasted about its capabilities at I/O with Infinite Wonderland, an “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”-inspired digital art experience curated by four artists. 

“Without that human touch, I wouldn’t have been able to create this fantastical world. The role artists play in crafting these AI models is vital and impacts the whole creative process,” one of the artists, Haruko Hayakawa, told Google, according to the company’s blog post on Infinite Wonderland.

Alongside Hayakawa, Eric Hu, Shawna X, and Erik Carter, also created their respective artworks using Imagen 3 for the first-of-its-kind exhibit. As they went down the rabbit hole of creativity, the artists also provided feedback to Google about the tech to help fine tune the model.


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