Another year, another Google Io that blesses us with the most important Google projects, news and announcements of the year. This is where the Search Giant stomps its foot and tells us how they plan to shape the world of technology.
There’s more than enough news to share, so we thought we would put it all here and give you a one-stop place for all your Google IO news. Ready? Let’s dig right in!
Android M Developer Preview
So, of course, Google had to talk about Android M, right? This year Google claims to have focused on performance and improving the core user experience. It was all about squashing bugs and polishing what Google introduced in Android L (otherwise known as Lollipop). This means it’s pretty much an incremental update, without much focus on new features.
Now, this doesn’t mean Android M doesn’t have some nice treats. App permissions have been greatly improved, for example. You no longer have to accept permissions when you download an app. With Android M, you will be able to allow permissions the first time you want to use them. You can then go into the settings and edit permissions to your liking. No longer do you have to live with all those permissions! Just allow for the ones you actually use.
Google also spoke of Chrome Custom Tabs, which will be availablein Q3, but developers can have today. What was more interesting during this presentation was hearing that Android M would come during Q3, too, which is really what we were expecting. They also went on to talk about App Links, which allow applications to communicate with each other securely.
Let’s get down o the juicy info, though. Google is going all out with Android Pay, which will get even better with Android M, as the service will now support fingerprint in a standard manner. It’s secure and uses NFC, as well as Host Card Emulation. All you do is unlock your phone, tap and use your fingerprint, if you so choose to. To make matters better, Verizon AT&T and T-Mobile are partnering with Google and pre-installing Android Pay in many devices.
To finish things up with a good boost, Google is improving battery life during standby. The system now goes into a deeper sleep when the phone goes through longer periods of inactivity. It turns out testing proved to nearly double battery life during standby.
And while we are on the topic of battery and charging, Google finished off the Android M news by announcing support for USB-C. By the way, this will allow people to charge other things with their phones! Yeah… because we have so much battery to throw around on our Android phones.
Some awesome stuff here! I am obviously most excited about USB-C support, but Android Pay also has me going a bit nuts. It seems Google is finally getting a stronger push with the help of carriers.
Android Wear improvements
Android Wear continues to grow, and though Google didn’t have any flashy announcements, they did show us some improvements the next release of Android will bring.
You know how you can have your smart watch’s screen always-on? Well, this feature is now coming to other applications. This will be great for to-do lists or using maps. Pretty awesome, really.
Another feature we have seen before is gesture actions. You can now swipe through cards/notifications by simply twisting your wrist. Google is also going nuts over the ability to draw emojis, which is quite comical, but it should be a pretty fun feature.
The new launcher makes it much easier to find apps and friends. I am just not sure why Google is so excited about these features. We all knew about them already. Oh well, I guess this is more of a larger scale announcement.
So everyone is trying to enter the IoT (Internet of Things) lately, but it seems all other companies can now start closing down shop. Google has entered the game and has announced Project Brillo, a base operating system for all kinds of smart devices.
This operating system works with any IoT device, but more importantly, it allows devices to work with each other. Google has announced Weave, a new language that allows all IoT devices to communicate with each other, and with your device, via the cloud.
Just imagine if you could have your coffee maker start as soon as you unlock your smart front door. Yeah, that’s just one example. The platform and language will be based on Android, so it will be a breeze to use.
This is big, guys. This could literally change the world, if it takes off. And I mean, it’s Google. The IoT is the next big thing in tech, and Google already has a good backing with Android and all its other services. Brillo goes into Developer Preview in Q3, while Weave will be ready as a full stack by Q4.
Now on Tap
A new feature is coming to Google Now along with Android M. It pretty much allows you to… tap on the screen regardless of what you are looking at. Google will then take the information from whatever you are looking at and consider that for your question.
For example, Google showed us a demo with a Skrillex song playing, then they asked “OK, Google Now: what is his real name?”. Google Now presented them with information on the artist in just a second.
This will work with movies, locations, places and all kinds of other things. It’s really much more amazing than it seems, as it means Gogole Now is about to get much more interactive. It will come into your Android experience, as opposed to being the assistant that sits in the corner until you decide to call it out.
Google Photos app announced
So… it’s pretty much the Google+ Photos section, but on a completely separate application. The idea is that this application organizes your phones and allows you to upload them to the cloud.
You can look at your old images and have automatic grouping, and you can even pinch to zoom through time. The application is also pretty smart, as it recognizes the nature of your photo. You can search within the app, for example. Type in “snow storm in Toronto”, and the app will search for images that show snow and were taken in Toronto.
There’s also Photo’s Assistant, which is pretty much like Auto Awesome. It creates cool content from your images and videos. Yep… it’s pretty much Google+ Photos on steroids.
AND IT’S UNLIMITED!
So we thought this one needed its own little section, as it’s so exciting. Google Photos is completely free and unlimited! You can upload your original resolution photos and videos, but there are limitations.
Photos can only be up to 16 MP large, and videos are limited to 1080p. Photos and videos are compressed, but it’s said to be amazingly good compression.
Best of all? This sh*t is available today for iOS, Android and web! Now I am sold.
Google in developing markets
So we know Google has a big interest in the developing market. These market has an estimated billion people who will go online in the coming years. The Search giant has been taking huge steps with projects like Android One and affordable Chromebooks, but they plan to go even further.
We know developing markets have an issue with internet availability, which is why Google is so interested in offering offline services. Some markets will start getting optimized websites, instead of the full page, for example.
They are also working on getting Chrome, Google Maps, YouTube and Navigation offline. This would allow people with limited data access to continue using Google services, even when they are off the grid.
Coding and developing are very special skills, and Google wants to make sure those who have the will to learn can also have the means to do so. This is why they are launching Android Nanodegree, a 6-month course that teaches you how to code for only $200 a month.
This can be a great opportunity for your professional career, as well as your personal growth. I think I might just jump on it.
What’s next for Google Cardboard
Google Cardboard is awesome. I have been enjoying it… probably way too much. A new Cardboard will now support devices as large as 6 inches (makes sense) and is much easier to assemble. By the way, attendees are getting one.
Google went on to announce that Cardboard SDK will now support iOS and iPhones. Insane, right?
There’s also Google Cardboard Expeditions, which allows teachers to take students to places the school bus can’t take them. Virtual reality opens so many doors. And since it’s just cardboard, these things are so affordable to acquire.
No, this is no competitor to T-Mobile’s JUMP program. Google’s JUMP is much more innovative. It’s actually a camera rig that can capture VR content wherever you go. It’s a simple camera geometry model that anyone can take and build a shooting rig.
In fact, GoPro has already been working on this and they have a commercially-ready 360-degree camera rig.
By the way, YouTube will support JUMP this summer. You won’t have to be struggling to find content.