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Here Are 10 Big Announcements You Need to Know About Google I/O

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Google I/O 2024 showcased Google’s commitment to transforming the search experience through AI innovations. Here’s a breakdown of the key announcements:

  1. Gemini 1.5 Pro and Gemini 1.5 Flash: Google announced the general availability of Gemini 1.5 Pro, a powerful AI model with a 1 million token context window, enabling it to process vast amounts of information like an hour of video or 1,500 pages of a PDF and respond to complex queries about this source material. Gemini 1.5 pro will also be available in more than 35 languages starting today – providing access to the latest technical advances, including deep analysis of data files like spreadsheets, enhanced image understanding and a greatly expanded context window, starting at 1 million tokens.

Additionally, Google also introduced Gemini 1.5 Flash, a more cost-efficient model built based on user feedback, with lower latencies; and Project Astra, Google’s vision for the next generation of AI assistants, a responsive agent that can understand and react to the context of conversations. [Blog Post] [Visual assets]

  1. Generative AI in Search: Google is integrating Gemini into Search, enhancing its ability to understand and respond to complex queries. Blog Post, [Visual assets]

This includes features like:

  • AI Overview – designed for advanced multi-step reasoning, planning, and multimodal capabilities. This enhancement ensures that people can ask intricate, multi-step questions, tailor their search outcomes, and interact using videos for an enriched query experience. This is set to launch soon, starting in the US before expanding globally.

  • Multi-step reasoning: which breaks down complex questions into smaller parts, synthesising the most relevant information and stitching it all together into a comprehensive AI Answer.

  • Search with video: which allows users to ask questions about video content by taking a quick video and get AI-powered answers in response. This feature will be available beginning with the US and rolling out to other regions over time.

  1. Gemini for Android: Gemini is being integrated into Android to power new features like:

    • “Circle to Search,” which allows users to search for anything they see on their screen. This feature is expanding to more surfaces like Chrome desktop and tablets.

    • TalkBack: Gemini Nano will enhance TalkBack, Android’s screen reader, with new features that make it easier for people with visual impairments to navigate their devices and access information. This feature will come first to Pixel devices later in the year.

    • Live scam detection: Gemini Nano will be used to detect scam phone calls in real-time, providing users with warnings and helping them avoid falling victim to fraud. This feature will come first to Pixel devices later in the year.

    • Gemini as an Assistant on Android: An AI assistant providing contextual suggestions and anticipating user actions based on the current app screen. This feature will be available where the Gemini app is already available and requires Android 10+ and 2GB+ RAM. The new overlay features announced at I/O will roll out over the coming months.[Blog Post] [Visual asset]

  1. Gemini for Workspace: helps businesses and everyday users get more out of their Google apps — from drafting emails in Gmail to organising project plans in Sheets. Over the last year, more than a million people and tens of thousands of companies have used generative AI in Workspace when they need an extra hand or dose of inspiration. Today, Google announced more updates across Gemini for Workspace, including new Gemini in Gmail features on mobile and additional language support. [Blog Post] [Visual assets]

    • Gemini in the Workspace side panel: Now using the Gemini 1.5 Pro model, it is available for Workspace Labs and Gemini for Workspace Alpha users and will be generally available next month to Gemini for Workspace customers and Google One AI Premium subscribers. It has a longer context window and more advanced reasoning to give you more insightful responses. Plus, it’s easy to get started with proactive summaries, suggested prompts and more.

    • Gemini Advanced subscribers will also soon get access to Live, a new mobile conversational experience. With Live, you can talk to Gemini and choose from different natural-sounding voices. You can speak at your own pace and even interrupt with questions, making conversations more intuitive. [Blog Post]

    • New Gemini features in the Gmail mobile app:

      1. See more detailed suggested replies: Gemini will automatically provide draft email responses that you can edit, or simply send. This will be available to Workspace Labs users on mobile and web in the coming months, and to Gemini for Workspace customers and Google One AI Premium subscribers later this year.

      2. Get summaries: Gemini can analyse email threads and provide a summarised view directly in the Gmail app. Summaries will be available to Workspace Labs users this week, and to all Gemini for Workspace customers and Google One AI Premium subscribers next month.

      3. Chat with Gemini: Soon, Gemini in Gmail will offer helpful features, like “summarise this email,” “list the next steps,” or “suggest a reply,” when you click the Gemini icon in the mobile app. These features will be available to Workspace Labs users in the coming weeks, and to Gemini for Workspace customers and Google One AI Premium subscribers in the coming months.

    • Use Help me write in more languages: Starting today, Help me write in Gmail and Docs is supported in Spanish and Portuguese.

  1. Ask Photos: Google Photos is getting a new feature called “Ask Photos,” which uses Gemini to answer questions about photos and videos, such as finding specific images or recalling past events. This feature will be available beginning with the US and rolling out to other countries soon. [Blog Post] [Visual assets]

  1. Imagen 3: Imagen 3, Google’s latest text-to-image model, is now available to select creators in private preview. It generates high-quality images with incredible detail, high-quality lighting, fewer distracting artefacts, and significant improvements in their ability to render text. It will be available in three model variants: one optimised for speed, one balancing speed and quality, and one prioritising the highest quality images with the best text alignment. Upgrades to image-generation in Workspace and the Gemini app and web experience are coming soon. Imagen 3 will be available where Vertex AI and ImageFX are available, via waitlist. [Blog Post], [Visual assets]

  1. Veo: Veo is Google’s most capable video generation model, capable of creating high-quality 1080p videos up to a minute or more long. Veo closely follows user prompts and offers unprecedented creative control, accurately following directions like quick zooming or slow-motion crane shots. It captures the nuance and emotional tone of prompts in various visual styles, from photorealism to animation, and maintains consistency across complex details. Veo builds upon years of generative video model work and combines architecture, scaling laws, and novel techniques to improve latency and output resolution. Starting today, Veo is available to select creators in private preview in VideoFX by joining the waitlist. In the future, Veo’s capabilities will be included in YouTube Shorts and other products.[Blog Post] [Visual assets]

  1. Music AI tools: Our collaborations with the music community: Google is collaborating with musicians, songwriters, and producers, in partnership with YouTube, to better understand the role of AI in music creation. They are developing a suite of music AI tools that can create instrumental sections, transfer styles between tracks, and more. These collaborations inform the development of generative music technologies like Lyria, Google’s most advanced family of models for AI music generation. New experimental music created with these tools by Grammy winner Wyclef Jean, electronic musician Marc Rebillet, songwriter Justin Tranter, and others was released on their respective YouTube channels at I/O.[Blog Post].

  2. SynthID for text and video: Google is extending SynthID to text and video, allowing for watermarking of AI-generated content. SynthID can now embed a digital watermark directly into the pixels of an image or video, making it imperceptible to the human eye but detectable for identification. This technology will be integrated into Gemini and Search’s creative queries. [Blog Post]

  3. AI Test Kitchen: AI Test Kitchen is expanding its reach, now available in over 100 countries and territories, including several in Sub-Saharan Africa like Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and more. Users can now experience and provide feedback on Google’s latest AI technologies, like ImageFX and MusicFX, in 37 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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NITDA, FCT-UBEB, Collaborate To Foster Digital Literacy In Schools

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In a significant development in Nigeria’s educational sector aimed at boosting digital literacy among school children, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), is set to collaborate with the Federal Capital Territory Universal Basic Educational Board (FCT-UBEB) towards revolutionising the way young Nigerians engage with technology and equipping them with necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

NITDA

The forgoing information is contained in a press statement e-signed by the Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations at NITDA, Hajia Hadiza Umar.

As per the statement, the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi , made this known when he hosted a delegation from the Head-to-Head Debate Committee of FCT UBEB led by its Ag. Executive Chairman, Dr Alhassan Sule, at the Agency’s corporate headquarters in Abuja to discuss possible areas of collaboration.

Mallam Abdullahi , who was represented by the agency’s Director of the Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions (ITIS) department, Oladejo Olawumi, stated that the collaboration aligned with a pillar of NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0) 2024-2027 which was to Foster Digital Literacy and Cultivate Talents.

While stating that the pillar was key to the proposed educational board’s debate competition, the NITDA DG emphasised the importance of integrating technology into education to capture the interest and potential of young people.

“Children today, often referred to as digital natives, intuitively use technology and unlike us, who are digital migrants, these children seamlessly adapt to new gadgets and platforms. Therefore, it is essential to embed digital knowledge in their learning environment,” he noted.

Abdullahi disclosed that the agency had been providing infrastructure and resources to facilitate educational transformation as well as digital learning centres across all states of the country.

He added that the Digital Literacy for All programme was a national initiative of the agency which was designed to extend digital education resources to all corners of the country and urged the visitors to key into the programme while he asserted that it would be instrumental in enhancing digital literacy skills among students and out-of-school children alike.

Highlighting the agency’s focus on emerging technologies, Abdullahi stated that extensive research and development were being conducted in areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics which were pivotal for future skill sets.

While referring to a recent collaboration between the agency and the Abuja Enterprise Agency on a Robotics competition organised for secondary schools in Abuja to spur interest in Robotics and technology among students, he said “I think we can work together in this area and make sure that Robotics interest is geared up among the youth.”

Elaborating on the Agency’s ongoing initiatives toward achieving 70 per cent digital literacy in the country by 2027, he further disclosed that the agency was working to integrate digital literacy into the national educational curriculum and providing hands-on experience with technologies like AI and Robotics.

While stressing the importance of addressing the needs of out-of-school children, he mentioned “We are developing programmes in partnership with various stakeholders to attract these children through incentives like school feeding, coupled with digital literacy and other educational training.”

Abdullahi noted that the multifaceted approach would ensure that children were not only fed but also equipped with essential digital skills that would pave the way for a more inclusive and technologically proficient future.

In his earlier remark, Dr Sule commended the agency for their various strategic initiatives to ensure a sustainable digitally transformed economy in the country.

While stating that the head-to-head committee was saddled with the responsibility of conducting the FCT Basic Schools debate competition, he noted that 900 students in the FCT would contest in a debate.

Sule said that finalists from the competition would be moved to a reality house which will be aired live on different media platforms where they would be trained on AI and Robotics.


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Group Seeks Restructuring of N15Bn USPF

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Association of Telecommunications, Information Technology, Cable Satellite Network Operators and Allied Services Employers of Nigeria (ATICEN) has again called on Dr. Bosun Tijani, minister of Communications, Information and Digital Economy,  and Aminu Maida, executive vicecChairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to make the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) work for the purpose it was created and be more accountable about the rural telephony projects.

Dr. Bosun Tijani, minister of Communications, Information and Digital Economy

According to the Association, the Fund should be restructured or scrapped if it continues to fail to achieve the purpose for which it was created. It noted that despite the Fund, the digital gap was still wider in the rural areas.

In December last year, the USPF committee led by the Minister unveiled a project on rural telephony powered by solar – one of the many initiatives that USPF aimed at expanding the communication network to rural areas across the country.

It would be recalled that stakeholders in the telecoms industry had called for the investigation of the Fund allegedly misappropriated. The USPF was established in 2003 with an initial N15 billion to promote the widespread availability and usage of network and application services throughout Nigeria.

The NCC charges telecom operators 2.5 per cent of their turn-over as licensing fees, of which 40 per cent of the licensing fees is transferred to the designated fund called USPF.

However, despite the Fund, a wider digital divide still exists in the rural areas as many rural communities in the country are yet to be adequately connected to the country’s telecommunication system.

This lapse has been attributed to the misappropriation of funds partly budgeted for that project by some officials who held sway in the sector in the recent past. Sensing the mismanagement of the fund, some players in the sector called on the Presidency and the National Assembly to investigate the utilisation of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) earmarked to bridge the infrastructure gap in the rural area.

They made the call following the non-impact of the Fund established by the Federal Government to facilitate the achievement of national policy goals for universal access and universal service to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rural, unserved, and underserved areas in Nigeria.

The Fund is being managed to facilitate the widest possible access to affordable telecommunications services for greater social equity and inclusion for the people of Nigeria.

It would be recalled that a sum of N15.174 billion was recommended for approval as the Universal Service Provision Fund’s 2019 budget. Since it was established, the industry players said it had never had any impact on the telecoms industry, claiming that the fund had not been used for the purpose it was established.


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MTN Rallies MSMEs on Social Media Challenge to Promote creativity and innovation

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As the 2024 World MSME Day approaches, leading ICT company, MTN Nigeria has announced a social media challenge for MSMEs.

MTN

This challenge aims to encourage creativity and innovation in the way these businesses operate.

World MSME Day is an annual event that recognizes the vital contributions of the Micro, Small, and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the achievement of the nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to a report by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), MSMEs significantly contribute to Nigeria’s SDGs accounting for about 43% of the country’s GDP and 84% of employment.

To commemorate the World MSME Day celebration, MTN Nigeria has tasked MSME entrepreneurs who are active on social media to participate in a challenge.

The challenge requires business owners to upload a video showcasing their creative use of any one of the MTN’s business solution tools with the hashtag #MTNMSMEChallenge.

The winning business will be rewarded with free radio publicity, while four other business owners will receive exciting prizes. The challenge will run till June 27, 2024, on all social media platforms.

This initiative reflects MTN Nigeria’s ongoing commitment to supporting small and medium businesses in Nigeria. The company provides these enterprises with the right tools to perform competitively in the market and enhance the quality of their services.

Some of the business tools available for the MSMEs to utilise in the challenge include:

  • Meetings+: Powered by Zoom, is a video conferencing platform that integrates video, voice, and chat features and offers daily, monthly and yearly subscription plans – with current discounts of up to 55%
  • EyeSyte – A Wi-Fi/4G enabled smart device designed to provide real-time, 24/7 security for businesses, environments, assets, and homes. The devices will be discounted at 5% during the World MSME week
  • ESET from MTN:  A high-quality cybersecurity solution that protects valuable data and devices from cyber threats without slowing down work.

By encouraging the creative use of these tools, the company aims to empower MSMEs to thrive in the Nigerian market, ultimately contributing to the nation’s economic development.


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