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Google just showed off an impressive, AI-filled vision of the future — now it needs to ship

One way Google is like Apple, and one way it isn't.

Google Hosts Its Annual I/O Developers Conference Justin Sullivan / Getty

This morning, Google laid out its ambitious vision for the future, and a series of spectacular Google products that will take us there.

Not now. But sometime soon. In the future.

At its I/O developer conference, the company unveiled a series of new products centered around the company's core competency: Unrivaled search and machine intelligence systems.

You can't use a single one of those products today, though. Unlike earlier years, Google's big reveals were previews — products launching "later this year" — not immediate launches.

And the most significant announcements — personal assistant tech and smart messaging apps — are products that Google rivals Amazon, Apple and Facebook already have out in the market.

It's a sign that Google feels confident it can ship these products that are packed, in theory, with impressive, cutting-edge AI.

"We want to talk to you a little bit about the future," CEO Sundar Pichai said at the onset of the keynote.

It's a future with Google at the center of everything Google does. The star of the show was the "Google Assistant": A pervasive software layer that packages Google's search database, voice capabilities and predictive personal assistant tech all into one thing.

Google gave long peeks at two flagship devices built around that assistant: Home — its voice-controlled device, a rival to Amazon's Echo — and a pair of messaging apps.

They didn't come with specific launch dates. Nor did Google's updates around virtual reality.

These are not simple products. Home and the messaging app, in particular, rely on natural language processing and image recognition that Google has been working on for years.

By previewing these products early, Google is, in a way, boasting about its capabilities. In an odd twist, it's a launch approach that Apple usually takes, not Google. We see what you did with Echo, Amazon. We see what you did with Messenger, Facebook. We can do that better.

Or it's a sign that Google feels it needs to plant its flag in these fields before others run away with the lead. Apple has usually taken the "wait, then perfect" approach to products. But Apple typically ships its products immediately after showing them off.

"We believe the real test is whether humans can achieve a lot more with machine learning assisting them," Pichai said to close out his keynote.

That real test will come when Google's products do.

Everything you missed from Google I/O 2016 in 10 Minutes

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