The big annual event in San Francisco is complete. So, I wanted to hit the highlights, in case you’ve missed them or were just too busy to watch everything on You Tube.
Day 1 featured a 3 hour keynote, highlighting Android M, the upcoming update to the Android build. Android M isn’t the earth shaking change that Lollipop was, but more of a refinement and bug fixing upgrade. This is a very good thing, since Lollipop, as welcome and well received as it was, is rather buggy and caused a number of devices quite an array of problems. M is expected to correct most of Lollipop’s issues and enhance some of its best qualities.
New features in Android M include a redefining of how app permissions are handled. Instead of you having to agree to numerous permissions when installing an app, you get to pick and choose which you’ll allow the first time you use the app. Also included is a feature called Doze, which will detect when your display is asleep and shut down all background applications, while still allowing alarms and high priority notifications. Google says that this will allow devices to be powered up to twice as long. Along with this type of power saving, USB-C support is included to ensure fast charging. A new feature known as Now on Tap (a part of Google Now) will allow users to pull up relevant information on their mobile device at any time, including reminder cards contextually tied to what the user is referencing at the time.
Android M will come with Android Pay, Google’s new mobile payment service with 700,000 stores ready to accept it, including McDonald’s, Macy’s and a host of others. Fingerprint payments are included, which Google is working hard to standardize across all Android devices. Strangely enough, this does not replace Android Pay, which will still be available and work.
We’ve been hearing rumors for months of Google Photos being pulled out of Google Plus and that turns out to be true. The new app was available about an hour after it was announced and I have it installed on three of my phones already. It has better organization and sharing capabilities and seems to be better all around. And, get this, with Google Photos you get free UNLIMITED storage for all photos up to 16MP and videos up to 1080p.
Google Maps will now be available offline with turn-by-turn directions still working. Pretty cool for parts of the world where a connection is not as readily available as here in the US.
One thing that excited me was what Google is doing with Cardboard. First, there is a new service for schools called Expeditions which allows teachers to take students on virtual field trips with all viewing the same content at the same time with the teacher as the guide. Also, Google Cardboard will now support devices up to six inches. Now, I won’t have to borrow my wife’s S4, because my Note is too big. Lastly, Cardboard will now support iOS devices. Pretty cool stuff.
Project Brillo is Google’s Internet of Things and will be embedded in Android M. They worked with Nest to develop it with a new programming language known as Weave. We don’t know a lot more, but Sundar Pichai seemed pretty high on what’s upcoming.
So, that’s a high level view of what was in this year’s I/O folks. You can find a lot of videos on You Tube from Google Developers and others for more information, including the entire key note and most presentations.
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