aNewDomain — “By using technology, can we make a difference to a fundamental problem in people’s life?” asks Sundar Pichai, SVP of Google at the start of Google I/O 2015’s keynote. The question being what did Google provide, not only for the developers of the world, but for the consumers of its myriad of products today?
Google has its hands in many of our lives. Your mobile devices and your web use has footprints all over them. And Google is following your every footstep to provide a better service. Today, Google discussed what’s coming in the world of Android with its next iteration.
The next version of Android is not only on smartphones, but it’s available in watches, as well as televisions and automobile interfaces. Google announced Android M has been designed to rethink the fundamentals of Android usage. I previously discussed my hopes that Android would progress more effectively for consumers and not be riddled with performance issues the way version 5.0 (Lollipop) was. Google claims to have taken this into consideration by looking at the lower level of the code. Down to the kernel.
- App Permissions — Mobile device app permissions have been the bane of smartphone users and privacy. There were so many apps that had direct access to specific information on your phone exposing it to be harvested for whatever third parties were looking for. Most commonly, contacts were harvested to create larger spam lists. You just didn’t realize it. App Permissions is now streamlined allowing more control over what apps can or cannot access regarding your device data.
- App Linking — Ever clicked on a Tweet that had a URL in it which was from an Instagram page? Previously, when clicking on a link like this, you’re prompted to select how the link should be viewed. In this case, you’re asked if you want to view the link in a browser or Instagram. Now, through code, Google has implemented a verification that says what the app belongs to, and then opens it up in said app. If the link is fake, it won’t open because the code has checks and balances in place verifying the validity via API information.
- HBO Go — The HBO Go service is not exclusive to Apple. It’s now available with Google Play services. Look for apps on mobile devices and Chromecast
- Android Pay — Many are going to say this is an answer to Apple Pay. I disagree. I consider this an iteration of the previous Google Wallet service. Unlike Google Wallet, Android Pay lets you pay by PIN or fingerprint without having to open up an app. It can all be done from the home screen or lock screen. Over 700,000 retailers will be accepting this payment option. Just look for the Android Pay logo or NFC logo.
- Android Wear — Not much to say about this other than a few changes in screen performance with “Always On” apps. This keeps the watch face lit in a low-powered state allowing you to, at the very least, tell time or refer to a list without having to “wake” the device.
- Machine Learning — GoogleNow is getting as intelligent as the deep neural networks. Google calls this upgraded functionality “Google On Tap.” This enables a more-contextual use of GoogleNow. You’ll be able to run these queries from any screen of your Android device. By doing this, the context of the screen during the search is considered. Example, if you’re looking at your music player on your phone, ask “What is his real name?” and Google will present you with the artist’s real name. Notice that I didn’t mention the band name in the query.
More Google Services
- Google Photos — The rumored Google Photos app changes were confirmed. The app has new gesture controls but also auto tagging allowing for automatic organization of your photos. The interface looked much better and intuitive. Also, storage is unlimited and FREE. Up to 16MB per photo and 1080p videos. There was a hint of compression mentioned, but it wasn’t fully discussed. I suggest checking the terms of service. Side note, the “sharing” feature from photos was shown off, but Google didn’t share to Google+. It shared to Twitter instead. Odd?
- Jump Camera — This is Google’s initiative for virtual reality and is more immersive when we view videos for gaming and other activities, but also looks at how it can be used in education. A beautiful example was shown of a classroom learning about the Great Wall of China. Google has partnered with GoPro to push the use of 360-degree camera technology and stereoscopic video.
All in all, I am a little underwhelmed with Google I/O as a consumer. I do appreciate what happened with consumer photos. Are we at a metaphorical wall when it comes to innovation? Granted, the updates to Android look promising, but nothing really knocks you off your feet. Maybe I want too much for my service. Do you? Share your thoughts on Google I/O below in the comments. I enjoy hearing from our readers.