My AR (Actual Reality) Experience at Google I/O 2016

By Leo Lee

Looking for a Google I/O 2016 recap? There are roundups on every tech blog out there. You’re here because you want to re-live my Google Cardboard Plastic experience at my first ever Google I/O. Here are my key take-aways:

1. Air Conditioned Indoor Venue

Yeah…No.

Everything turned out to be mostly outdoors — the main stage (Shoreline Amphitheatre), workshop areas, and tech demos. Only exception being the several enclosed tents for some of the smaller talks. However, the thoughtful folks at I/O provided us with sunglasses, sunscreen and an I/O branded water bottle in our welcome swag bag. Water coolers were set up across the venue and drinks were provided to keep us hydrated under the scorching sun.

2. Tanning Sessions (aka Line-Ups)

Before attending I had my schedule figured out for the 3 days with the specific talks I wanted to attend. I probably ended up only being able to attend half of them. Lineups were definitely an issue with most talks reaching max capacity fast. To guarantee a spot in the talk you wanted to attend (besides the ones at the main stage), you practically had to start lining up one session before. Thankfully, all sessions ended up being recorded and put on YouTube. Huge shoutout to the clouds for not raining.

3. Sundar Pichai’s Key(Notes) to Success

Held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre it had a similar Drake “OVO Fest” concert vibe since his is held in Toronto’s very own Molson Amphitheatre. However, instead of Drake bringing out famous artists spitting sick verses, it was Sundar bringing out excited employees dropping dope tech. Google’s continuous venture into the connected space with Google Home & Google Assistant was huge. Also, absolutely can’t wait to always annoy friends by abusing the large font option on Allo. Daydream and the entire VR platform looked sick. Lastly, minds were blown with Instant Apps.

4. Fire @ I/O

No, Drake did not make a surprise guest appearance and do a verse at the Key Note. I’m talking about that Google fire — Firebase. Seems like Google is really pushing it this year with a lot of talks related to Firebase. The things you can do with it are impressive and it looks to be a very promising product. Our beloved Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) is now rebranded as Firebase Cloud Messaging. Test Lab and Crash Reporting Tools too? Boom! Google back at it again with the hottest services.

5. Smart People Presenting Are Smart

When it came to talks, I was back in “Freshman Nerd Mode”: Front row, laptop out, taking notes. The three areas and goals I wanted to achieve in terms of talks:

1) Technical (To improve my skills as an Android Developer)2) Emerging Tech (To provide better recommendations as a Product Manager for our clients)3) Design (To bridge the gap between my Engineering and PM background)

My favourite talks in each category:

1) Technical: The experts’ guide to Android development tools2) Emerging Tech: Supercharging Firebase with Google Cloud Platform3) Design: Learning to speak Designer

6. It’s Lit! (At The Night Show)

At night when talks were over and with the beer flowing, it was time to TURN UP! Day 1’s musical guests were Charli XCX and Kygo. For Kygo’s set, they handed out glow sticks, wands, and glasses that made everyone look like Kanye in his ‘Stronger’ music video. On Day 2, they turned the entire area into a giant neon lit wonderland. They also had an “I/O Arcade” with games built off Google APIs. Coolest one? Think “Pictionary” where the goal was to draw an object given to you and you win if their Google Vision API could guess what you drew.

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Overall, my first ever I/O was an amazing experience and much thanks to TribalScale for the hookup! Leo out! *Drops Cardboard Plastic*

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