Google I/O shows upgrade Maps, Google+, online photo enhancement and music streaming

At Google I/O, Google announced a new voice search capability, a music streaming service and upgrades of Maps and Google+, including automated online photo enhancements that compete with what digital cameras offer.

Unlike past years, the keynotes announced no shiny new Android or Chrome OS devices or hardware initiatives.

Google announced 41 new features to Google+ including more contextual links and a photo enhancement capability. With a single button, users can let Google make a list of improvements to pictures from removing red eye to smoothing skin tones. It also supports five effects such as creating panoramas or mini-videos out of a sequence of photos.

Taking Apple’s Siri to task, Google showed a voice search capability running on its Chrome browser. It handled a set of relatively complex natural language queries running on a mobile version of Chrome on smartphones.

Google also showed an updated interface and new features that will roll out this summer for its Maps service. It sports links to Google+ to create personalized maps.

* Most of Google’s out-of-the box initiatives have paid dividends such as a self-driving car effort which contributed ideas and staff to Google Maps. “The amount we spend winds up being small checks.”

* Microsoft is not letting Google fully interoperate with its platforms. “I am sad the Web is not advancing as fast as it could be; we have struggled with Microsoft.”

* Google Health “didn’t make much progress–primarily all the issues were regulatory. We will see amazing things in health care but I think they will be things that have a tech lever like [low cost] DNA sequencing.”

* Smartphones will eventually penetrate developing markets in India and Africa and become a primary business tool. “I can get almost everything I need to run the company on my phone, but unfortunately I don’t get to do much programming.”

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