It has only been a couple of days since the announcements at Google I/O 2015, where the company showed off some of its new software products. We got to see a new version of Android, the company’s new payments service, new features for Android Wear and much more. Here’s a recap of Google I/O 2015 and a detailed list of everything that the company announced at its software event.
Undoubtedly the biggest announcement at Google I/O 2015 was that of Android M. The next iteration of Android may get a formal moniker prior to its public release but for now it will be known as Android M. The new software brings greater control over app permissions, provides improved mobile browsing, features standardized fingerprint authentication, promises improved battery performance among many other things. Google aims to release Android M by Q3 this year. More information in Android M Official and on the Official Android M announcement page. There were no demo of the complete OS at Google I/O, only a few features were shown during the show: Android Pay and Google Now on tap, which is part of the mobile brwosing improvement (see below).
We had been hearing for a while now that Google is going to launch its own Apple Pay competitor, which was unveiled as Android Pay at Google I/O 2015. Users enter their card details once and simply tap their phone to pay at a NFC-enabled terminal, they can also use reward points at participating merchants. Android Pay will be avaialble from over 700,000 US retailers.
Android Pay can also be used for payments made inside applications as shown in the video demonstration posted above, the payments service can be used for tasks like online shopping, ordering food and much more.
Google Now on Tap
Google Now on Tap is being hailed as the next major feature for Android. Basically it allows the built-in personal assistant on Android devices, which we know and love as Google Now, to see what’s happening on the device’s screen and take relevant actions. Google demonstrated the feature at I/O by first playing a Skrillex song and then asking Now “What’s his real name.” The assistant knew that the user meant to ask about Skrillex’s real name and returned the relevant result.
Android Wear New Features
Some new features for Android Wear were also announced at the event, such as the “Always On” mode which lets users keep apps on the display screen. New wrist gestures for Android Wear smartwatches were also revealed, along with support for drawing emojis. Google also revealed some new apps for the platform and announced that now there are more than 4,000 apps available for Android Wear.
ATAP Projects: Project Jacquard and Project Soli
The company also made a couple of rather interesting announcements called Project Jacquard and Project Soli, with these projects Google aims to solve the problem of input with wearable devices. Soli is a single-chip solution to detect finger motion and gestures. It’s different from conventional methods of 3D motion detection and camera based systems because it uses 60GHz radio which enables it to discern fine motion. The system can basically convert simple gestures like tapping a finger on the thumb to tapping a button without the user actually having to touch the wearable device.
Project Jacquard deals with weaving capacitive touch digitizers inside cloth, but one of the problems that the company faced with the project was that no one had actually tried to weave so many wires in conventional fabric in the past. Google had to get a special type of weaving done so that conductive strands of yarn could be exposed in a certain order so that they could easily be connected to connectors. It’s the ultimate blend of technology and fashion and the first partner for Google on this project is Levi’s.
Google’s low-cost Cardboard virtual reality headset was first launched last year and at I/O 2015 a slightly updated version was unveiled which even has support for the iPhone. It revealed that more than one million units of Cardboard are out there, significantly more than any of the costly VR headsets that are available on the market today. The company also announced its new Jump program at the event which is a new platform that aims to make it easy for content creators to capture and share 360-degree VR content. For this purpose Google has teamed up with GoPro which actually produced arrays housing 16 action camera units from GoPro in order to seamlessly capture 360-degree video. The arrays will let all of the cameras sync and share a single power source, which basically converts the 16 cameras into one single camera. Google is going to release the 16 camera rig’s geometry which enthusiasts can use to develop their own rigs.
Google also announced a new implementation of Cardboard called Expeditions which will allow teachers to bring the low-cost VR headset into the classroom. Teachers can use Expeditions to show the same content on multiple Cardboards and they can sign up for the initiative online. Content support from The Planetary Society, American Museum of Natural History and the Chateau de Versailles has already been promised.
Google Play Services 7.5
Google Play services 7.5 is going to bring new optimizations and capabilities for the entire Android ecosystem, it will allow developers to build on the latest software features from Google for their apps and services. Features which include Smart Lock for Passwords, Instance ID, new APIs for Google Cloud Messaging and Google Cast and access to the Google Maps API for Android Wear. Smart Lock for Passwords is simply an extension of the Chrome Password Manager, it lets Android devices retrieve saved credentials as part of the login process and even save new credentials for use later on other Android devices and the Chrome browser on any platform. Google Cast improvements include features like queuing, better game support, remote display, autoplay and more. The Google Maps API for Android Wear enables developers to show fully interactive maps on AW smartwatches, which users will be able to scroll and zoom. Google Play services 7.5 SDK is now available for developers.
Prior to I/O 2015 it was rumored that the company is going to reveal a new operating system for connected devices. Google unveiled Project Brillo as its OS for the Internet of Things. It will enable connected smart objects to communicate with each other regardless of the platform that they support. Google will provide Brillo to developers and OEM partners who wish to integrate the OS in their connected devices, which should start appearing on the market at some point later this year.
At I/O 2015 Google also talked about the fact that HBO Now will soon be coming to Android devices, this standalone online streaming service from HBO was previous exclusive to Apple’s devices for three months.
Article reported by Eliane Fiolet – videos by Eliane Fiolet