Google’s I/O events are always an exciting time for Google/Android fans wanting to know what Google has been up to and what’s coming next. Like usual, this year we got some impressive goodies in part of Google’s plan for world domination, rooted from advancing the role technology can play in our everyday lives.
Here are my impressions of the most memorable moments:
Android “M” Preview
Android M annoucement [via theverge]
Android M was the kickoff topic of the event, and not unexpected. The preview version of the not-yet-named next version of Android was briefly shown, which looked a lot like Lollipop. This is not a surprise, as Lollipop still has some growing to do, Android M will be a refinement of it. Google stated that their focus with “M” is quality, along a number of improvements and added features:
- App Permissions improvement – More concise app permissions and the specific permission can be requested in the app upon action to use that device function.
- Chrome Custom Tabs – Links to websites inside apps (such as Flipboard) launch in a Chrome tab that is skinned to match the app’s appearance, for a seamless experience.
- Android Pay – Simplified experience to pay, just unlock and tap. Can use to pay in apps. Can use fingerprint (on supported devices) to authorize purchase.
- Power & Charging – Smarter power management. Feature called “Doze”, in which device can tell when it is left unattended for a period and go into deep sleep to save battery. Future devices will use the new USB Type-C standard, which will have faster charging, flipable charging port insertion, and ability to charge another attached device using the phone as the power source.
I kind of disagree with the move to another dessert already. In the past, Google has waited until bigger Android overhauls to move on to a new name for the OS. I don’t see how these improvements to Lollipop justify moving to “M”, doesn’t seem big enough. But whatever.
Senior Vice President, Sundar Pichai, talking about Android Wear [via sfgate]
The Android smartwatch interface is constantly being improved. Google is adding the following capabilities to Android Wear:
- Always On – Ability for app to go into a low-power state and still show information. This would be useful having the time shown (like a normal watch) or keeping a grocery list shown without having to keep turning the watch on.
- Wrist Gestures – You can scroll up and down on the interface by twisting your wrist up and down.
- Draw Emoji – This one is minor but fun, you can send someone an emoji by drawing it out.
I was disappointed to not hear about any new Android Wear products this time around. At last year’s Google I/O, the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live smartwatches launched, and a date for the Moto 360. There was no mention of any devices here, only software 😦
The new Google Photos [via yahoo]
- Google Now – Google Now is being improved to get you information you’d potentially want even quicker. Google introduced a feature called “Now on Tap”. When you’re reading something in an app and hold the home button, Google Now reads what’s on the screen and presents you information and links on certain things it can flag, such as a person’s name or a movie. Further, using that concept, you can simply ask Google a generic question, such as “What is this?” or “Who is he?” and it’ll link the question to the subject that it recognized in the text. Creepy? Yes. But cool? Definitely!
- Google Maps Offline – This one I see a bigger deal to those who travel. Before, if you saved an area in Maps to use offline, you could only really zoom in and out and view the area. You couldn’t search places in that area or request directions within that area. I’m happy to report that Google recognized the limitation and added these abilities to offline Maps. It even saves reviews of places within the saved area!
- Google Photos – If you’re on stock Android, you most likely use Google’s Photos app to look through your images. For these of us, I think we can agree that Photos was pretty bare-bones, not having much functionality and resulting in a lot of scrolling. Google focused on bringing it up to speed with today’s standards, adding the following features:
- Timeline date grouping – You can zoom in and out to view images taken within a week, month, or year.
- Searchable organization – You can search a keyword to bring up that particular set of photos/vids.
- High-res, free and unlimited picture and video cloud backup. Up to 16MP pictures and 1080P video. Pretty insane.
Other notable mentions were:
- Project Brillo – Aimed to connect our devices and our home, a step forward from the capability of the Nest thermostat. And example of this is unlocking your front door with your device.
- New VR Cardboard – supports larger phones and easier to assemble.
- True-to-scene image/video capturing – Google is developing technology to stitch together depth in large-space photos, for the user to be able to move and really see the scene. Also, together with GoPro, they built a prototype contraption to record a 360 degree video.
I wonder why Android Auto didn’t have a highlight, maybe it’s not ready for prime time?
Were we all satisfied with the announcements at this year’s I/O?