[A stunning visualization – each of the colored dots represents an Android device, and the screens wrapped around at least 3 walls of the hall.]
At Google’s annual developer conference, I/O 2015, Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President, Chrome and Apps, and other product leaders, announced or updated us on a wide-ranging variety of initiatives, displaying the wide range of areas the company is involved in. Some selected highlights:
- HBO Now will be coming to Android/Chromecast. The timetable was not exactly specified, other than Pichai saying it would be in time for the upcoming True Detective season, which premieres June 21st.
- Android M (dessert to be named later) today has a Developer Preview for Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and the Nexus Player set-top hockey puck. Google looks to be refining what they built with Lollipop, with Pichai saying “We’ve really focused on polish and quality; we’ve literally solved thousands of bugs.” No release timetable was given.
- Android Pay will be included in Android M, looking very much like an Apple Pay experience.
- Fingerprint ID will be built in to Android M, so that hardware makers such as Samsung won’t have to make their own.
- Project Brillo, the rumored platform for the Internet of Things (IoT) was announced. It will be a slimmed-down (or, polished with a Brillo pad) version of Android for embeddable devices. A companion protocol, Weave, over which such devices will communicate, was also introduced. Brillo is slated for Q3, and Weave for Q4.
- Now on Tap, an enhancement to Google Now, will also be part of M. It adds a variety of improvements, including an uncanny (spooky?) level of context recognition. For example, they demonstrated listening to a track by Skrillex, and asking “OK Google, what’s his real name?”, successfully returning the answer (Sonny John Moore). Also, context-aware assistance will be automagically available in any app by holding the Home key, such as giving you more information on a movie that a friend has emailed you about wanting to see.
- Google Photos, available right now on Android, iOS, and the web, and now sporting a pinch interface to zoom in & out from single images to months to years of photos and videos. Oh, and also unlimited storage for free.
- Jump, a new platform for creating & sharing virtual reality content, to be ready this summer for “select creators”. This includes not only software, but also a 16-camera GoPro array to film in 360º. Content will be shared via YouTube, and can be viewed with the new version of Cardboard available now.
The developer summary of the announcements can be found Google Developers: announcements from I/O 2015 keynote.
To watch the recorded video of the keynote, go here. [Also enjoy the game of Pong on the panoramic screens before the event starts.]