Google recently held its much anticipated annual I/O conference. Here, people were treated to a list of the latest very exciting projects. They include Project Brillo, Google Cardboard and Android Pay. Android Pay will be a rival to the payment system used by Apple and this was one very interesting piece of the conference. Google Cardboard also showed why Google is heads above Apple when it comes to innovation. The technology giant’s ideas simply cannot be topped. Let’s take a look at some of the key messages that were shared.
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of products at Google, has stated that Android M can now be downloaded. The developer preview shows just how powerful this release is going to be.
We have gone back to the basics. We have really focused on polish and quality. That includes “thousands” of bug fixes and small tweaks.
One of the things that really got people excited, however, was the announcement promising longer battery life on handsets. This is thanks to the new “Doze” state, which is a motion sensor that detects when the phone is not being used. Basically, when a phone is inactive, the background app activity will be cut down so that battery life is extended.
Users will also become more powerful. This is because they will be able to customize their apps to give them specific permissions. In other words, a request will be triggered in context. Plus, users will be able to deny certain permissions should they so choose.
Better linking of apps is another great improvement. This is designed to make sure that apps can be found with greater ease. Developers in particular are very excited about this one.
Now On Tap
Now On Tap is a brand new product that could change everything.
Imagine if developers didn’t have to think about how their work connects to the rest of your world? Imagine if Now on Tap is aware enough of the core functions of those apps that it can predict what you’d most likely want to do with them, and then execute on those needs? That’s the ultimate promise of Now on Tap.
Simply put, it will provide a user with information when they press the Home button, showing them what is on their screen. For instance, if a friend suggests you watch a certain movie, you press the home button and find out new details about this movie. Plus, you can ask Google Now for more information and help.
Android Pay and Fingerprint
Google Wallet will be replaced by contactless payment. This feature is supposed to be in direct competition with Apple Pay. Essentially, over 700,000 stores in the country will be equipped with NFC (near-field communication) devices. Some of these stores include Macy’s and McDonald’s. People can link their debit or credit card to the service and a fingerprint scanner will provide identification, in the same way as what Apple has Touch ID. The service will allow people to make payments using their mobile devices. It is believed this service will be available to all users in this country “soon”, but no details are provided on when it will be available on other markets. Essentially, users will only have to unlock their device and then hold it up to a reader to make a payment. The service will also automatically link to incentives such as loyalty programs. Android Pay has already agreed to link with VISA, MasterCard, American Express and various other providers. It seems that competing with Apple Pay is going to be pretty easy.
For Google itself, Project Brillo is what is perhaps the most exciting.
Brillo extends the Android platform to all your connected devices, so they are easy to set up and work seamlessly with each other and your smartphone.
The so-called “Internet of Things” (IoT) is becoming increasingly common. Brillo will use the Weave communications protocol to allow for communication between all IoT devices. An exact launch date hasn’t been set but it will be later this year. Simply put, a smartphone will be able to work with all connected devices. Google purchased Nest in January 2014 and their ecosystem devices and smart thermostats will all be able to function through Brillo.
Google Photos is a brand new app that stores pictures along a timeline. Additionally, it offers free unlimited storage. Considering Google expects over one trillion photographs will be taken this year, that is very significant and welcome news. Each photograph will be located in a single space and can be accessed from any other device. They are also automatically synced and backed up, so that no data is lost. The organization of pictures can be done by date, place or people and anyone who is provided with a link can see the pictures. It is also free to download on iOS, Android and Web.
Android Wear is the operating system for Google wearables. It has been upgraded in a number of different ways. For exampled, people will be able to skip pages by simply flicking their wrist. They will be able to do the same to send a text message or to send something to their friends. Furthermore, a number of apps will be “Always On,” such as a fitness tracker. This means users can quickly check their stats without having to switch the device on.
Offline maps is also a big new development targeting the developing world in particular.
In keeping with Sundar Pichai’s grand theme of services available to all, Google is today announcing offline search in its Maps application along with offline turn-by-turn voice navigation instructions. Aimed to help users in developing countries where access to data is either spotty, expensive, or both, the new features will let people use Google’s services even when they don’t have “super reliable connectivity.”
Google Cardboard and Jump
Finally, there is Google Cardboard, the highly anticipated virtual reality project. Cardboard is already expanding to children, for whom Google has launched Expeditions, which is an educational program. Meanwhile, Jump will show how the world will be captured in HR and will be available on YouTube soon.