The focus on artificial intelligence was obvious in the months leading up to the event, but the Google I/O 2024 announcements have sealed the deal on AI-guided workplace productivity. Most of the Google I/O AI updates revolve around Google Gemini and its sibling AI tools, along with a hint at VR glasses that they didn’t dive into. Google’s assistive search features, futuristic voice assistant Astra, quick search tools, smarter Google Workspace, and other elements of Google’s AI 2024 initiatives have opened the doors to what could be a new era of workplace improvements that we didn’t see coming. 

Of course, if you only want to use these features to assist your kids with homework or fix a broken gadget that’s been lying in the garage for weeks, then many of the Google I/O AI updates will cater to your needs without a hitch. Whatever you need done, the new tools can simplify your daily experience, so you can focus on what’s important to you. 

Google IO AI updates

The Google I/O 2024 Announcements Hint at a New Era of Work

TechRadar tells us that Google used the word “AI” in their keynote about 121 times within the 1 hour and 52 minutes of the live event. Perhaps they wanted to make sure you knew what the company was all about in 2024, with no qualms about emphasizing that they were set on leading the industry with AI. 

With the intention of “making AI helpful for everyone,” the most groundbreaking aspect of the Google I/O 2024 highlights was easily the launch of project Astra, which everyone has now associated with Scarlett Johansson’s magical rendition of an always-there assistant in the movie Her. There’s no sign that Joaquin Phoenix will turn up when you use the AI, but its ability to understand and respond to your environment should make a lot of on-the-job experiences breeze by faster.

Google IO 2024 highlights

Image: Demoing the capabilities of the AI assistant on the Pixel series phone

1. Google I/O 2024 Announcements Introduce Project Asta—A Virtual Assistant Who Could Change the Way You Work

Google Deepmind’s vision for the future of AI assistants is futuristic, to say the least. The Asta segment of the Google AI 2024 updates starts off simple, with a tour around the office as the phone is shown different objects lying around the office and asked to identify and describe some of them. The assistant provides a clear explanation and it’s enough to get us clapping but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. When the phone is turned to a segment of code displayed on a laptop, the AI assistant is quickly able to summarize the purpose of the code without hesitation. 

When paired with a set of VR glasses that Google snuck into the showcase without comment, you would no longer have to walk around with your phone held up to show your assistant what you’re looking at. The glasses can do the looking and the speaking as you go about your day and ask it to resolve problems on a whiteboard for you. Imagine if hours of work breaking down a complex problem or a glitchy piece of code could be cut down with quick solutions via AI. Project Asta could help address issues at work faster than ever before, freeing you up to implement a solution instead of discovering it.

Even without the Project Astra incorporation, you can instead record a video of a problem and ask a question along with it. Upload the video to Google and you should have search results identifying and responding to your query. OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4o model has also received some human-like conversational updates but the Google Astra update promises a more collaborative, intuitive experience at work. The quick response systems provided by the Google I/O AI updates are going to be very easy to get used to.

Google Search feature IO 2024

Image: Google CEO Sundar Pichai presenting the opening keynote speech on Google Search capabilities

2. AI Overviews

Launching in the U.S. to all users with a timeline of expanding to other countries soon, the AI Overview feature is one that has been around for a while. If you have signed up for the Google Labs testing experience, you should have received the Google generative search experience already, where every search query provides users with a quick summary of the most popular articles and a response to the question on their mind. This start to the Google I/O 2024 announcements is perhaps not as showy as the rest, but it is a quick way to have your question answered when you don’t have to read through an assortment of long, rambling articles that refuse to get to the point.

Need to know why your browser has slowed down or how to password-protect your PDF? The AI Overviews should give you a heads-up on what’s going on and what you need to do next. It’s a handy repairman to have around when going to the more tech-savvy experts at work is too embarrassing.

Google IO event summary

Image: Google’s NotebookLM

3. Bringing Back the NotebookLM With the Google’s I/O 2024 Highlights 

Powered by Google’s Gemini LLM, the NotebookLM tool introduced at the Google I/O conference last year has not been discussed as much as it should. Designed for students who are researchers who generally have a lot of material to review almost all the time, the tool is capable of generating study guides, quizzes, and FAQs from the material fed into the system. Its audio overview feature generates a realistic, conversational summary of the information provided by the tool, to simplify learning for a listener unfamiliar with the material. 

The Google I/O 2024 announcements included a demo of an audio summary of Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion, with two speakers and a transcript on screen to make it that much easier to pay attention to. The multimodal feature allows you to join the conversation and ask a question at the touch of a button, redirecting the conversation to help you understand better. The result? A realistic shift in the conversation to incorporate the question naturally and give you an answer that broadens your understanding of the subject. Where was this tool when I was crying ugly tears into my physics textbooks back in high school because I was too scared to ask questions in class? 

Students who use the new and improved NotebookLM should greatly benefit from the simplification of material, but Google I/O AI updates could just as easily be integrated into a work setup. Imagine using these AI tools to onboard a new employee who needs to be brought up to date on the company’s policies, or consolidating project notes to be shared with a team. Creating training material as takeaways from workshops or drafting a business proposal from folders of material has never been easier. Multimodal tools are among the best ways to absorb information in a way that suits the user and the Google I/O 2024 announcements and organizations that understand that will be the first to benefit from it.

Google AI 2024

Image: Using the Gemini AI app on Android

4, Android Is Set to Incorporate Some of the Gemini Magic According to the Google I/O Event Summary

The Google AI Gemini has already been introduced to many Android devices, but soon enough Gemini Nano will arrive on upcoming Pixel devices to make accessing the tool easier for you. Even within the in-built AI, accessing Gemini is not difficult considering its feature can be enabled on many Android phones.

The Circle-to-Search feature can already help with picking up a part of an image to look up results relevant to you. This also extends to text search, when complex terms or mathematical formulas can be circled to make it easier and quicker to pick up text and find an explanation that makes sense to you. Instead of the cumbersome process of typing it all out into your browser, you will now have a way to understand documents and messages and respond to those waiting for a reply. It’s a handy way to ensure there are no more ignored work emails sitting in your inbox.

The Gemini app on Android makes it so you never have to leave the app you’re currently on, even if you want to generate an image or look up something before you respond. Pitching a marketing campaign idea to a colleague and want to instantly generate some ideas to visualize what you’re talking about? Need to ask a PDF a question without having to read through the whole document? Gemini Advanced is right there to help. There are so many ways to employ the contents of the Google I/O 2024 announcements into productivity tools that fit into the palm of your hand.

Google IO 2024 highlights (1)

Image: Aparna Pappu, VP and GM, Google Workspace at Google

5. Gemini For Workspace Also Among the Google AI 2024 Announcements

The Google AI 2024 developments have enabled many users to write and generate content relevant to them, but the Gemini side panel will be generally available next month. The panel brings up some helpful options of how you might want to track the information presented to you via your Gmail account, from suggesting replies to tracking the data such as a mail about your receipts. The Gemini assistant can help you track your receipts by adding them to a folder or even creating a spreadsheet with the data available. 

For freelancers and business owners, a tool like this drastically reduces the workload that stacks up when they have to track these documents themselves. You could even go so far as to automate the process so future emails are also given the same treatment, cutting down the time you spend on these manual tasks. The side panel integrated into the spreadsheet gives you even more control over the data, offering helpful graphics to put your expenses and earnings into perspective at a glance. Working with extensive data can simplify life like never before. The Data QandA feature will become available in Workplace Labs in September.

Gemini 1.5 Pro will also allow you to pull up a card and general a summary of your email threads, and search for data online without distracting you away from the mail sitting in front of you. The suggestive replies from Gemini will help respond to the email more quickly, not one word at a time like Gmail already does, but an entire reply that can convey your interest or lack thereof. It picks up on context cues to understand how you might want to reply to your email.

Google I/O AI Updates Know That Work Comes First Sometimes

The Gemini-powered virtual teammate that should arrive in 2025 is a much-awaited feature that will let you add a coworker to your project who is specifically created to handle tasks that require specific attention. You’ll be able to create a description for the assistant and chart out their responsibilities, and soon enough, the virtual coworker will start chiming in when they make observations and complete tasks relevant to your team. Name the teammate, give it a job, and watch it work with a single-minded focus that you might even come to envy. 

These Google I/O 2024 highlights are a small part of the company’s large plans to bring artificial intelligence to its users and depending on how you incorporate them, you should find your work life and productivity reaching new heights with a few prompts to get you there. Google’s plans have a variety of applications but we can see how we’re going to be using them to simplify day-to-day tasks that don’t deserve the time we currently spend on doing them.