Arts & Entertainment | May 19, 2016 9:00 am

Google Just Challenged Half of Silicon Valley to a Duel

Tech giant’s new releases will take on Amazon, Uber and VR

The two-hour keynote address delivered by Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his team at the annual I/O developers’ conference in Mountain View, CA, can be boiled down to two words:

“Wanna go?”

The omnipresent Internet giant announced product launches and developments that will squarely challenge many of its competitors and, above all, bring the latest high-tech advances to the masses (that is, make them way more affordable).

Here’s how they plan to do it.

Instant Apps
In order to let users with limited data space have unlimited access to the latest apps and purchasing platforms, the Instant Apps feature for Android will allow users to instantly access a portion of an app without downloading the application (and thus compromise storage space) entire. Users will just have to click a link, perform a desired action, and move on.  

A platform that will optimize Android software for virtual reality, Daydream requires a user to simply connect their phone to a headset to immerse themselves in an alternate universe. Users control objects in the VR world with a basic remote, which — along with the headset — will be open source, so developers can compete with each other to make improvements without Google having to lift a finger, virtual or otherwise. That should keep the price down when the whole shebang launches in September.

Waze Carpool
While this wasn’t part of the keynote, it certainly seems like part of Google’s apparent desire to take on all comers. Even though Google owns a sizable chunk of Uber, it launched a rival ride-sharing service called Waze Rider that allows Waze users who are heading in the same direction to connect with one another to share a ride, with the driver being paid for the trouble. The kicker: Google takes no cut. Although the service is only available in a few markets right now, millions of people already use Waze, so the service could become extremely popular if and when it goes national.

Google Home
A direct competitor to Amazon’s Echo, Home is a Wi-Fi connected speaker that can play music, listen to commands, answer questions and control all of the IoT-connected components in your house. Powered by Google Assistant, Home appears to be nearly identical to Echo, with its major advantage being that it can interact with devices that are connected to a Chromecast, and that fact that it’s directly connected to and synced up with, well, Google.