Source: Android Central
Google I/O, the annual software developer conference in San Francisco, has officially come and gone. At the conference, we saw Google’s vision for a world with virtual reality, next generation messaging, and intelligent home assistants.
Google Daydream – Google’s Virtual Reality Platform
Google Daydream is the new mobile VR platform built into Android N, the next version of Android’s OS announced back in March. . Based on the live demo, Daydream’s home screen lets you navigate a menu of apps and content in a virtual world, the low-poly art style reminiscent of certain Google Cardboard apps. The menu on stage showed Virtual Reality versions of Youtube, HBO, New York Times, MLB, Google Street View, Play Store, and more.
Unlike Cardboard, Google’s previous foray into the VR scene, Daydream is only compatible with the latest high-end Android phones that feature special sensors. In addition, the smoother, low-latency experience that Daydream achieves is not possible with a simple update to Cardboard.
Google is promising Daydream-ready phones developed by eight partners – Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, Asus, and Alcatel. Daydream will feature experiences from Netflix, EA, Ubisoft, and more. The VR platform will be available this fall.
Google Home – A Smart Assistant for your Home
Following in the footsteps of Amazon’s Echo, Google is developing its own smart speaker with an always-on microphone capable of understanding and processing commands such as playing music or scheduling an appointment. Google Home will tap into your connected devices, letting you adjust Nest thermostats and lights, or cast Youtube videos to your Smart TV or Google Chromecast.
Similar to Echo, Home is a vase-shaped device with the lower half acting as a speaker. The default model is white, but Home will be available in different colored shells to match your room’s aesthetic. The device can be paired with other Home devices in different rooms, allowing you to control them without three speakers answering back.
Allo and Duo – Google’s New Messaging and Video Chat Apps
Google is crafting a response to Apple’s iMessage and Facetime with their own messaging and video chat apps.
Allo is a smart messaging app with deeply integrated machine learning. What does this mean? Beyond allowing you to message your friends and family, Allo has Google Assistant built in. This lets you type in certain messages like “Is my flight delayed?” which will prompt Google Assistant to bring up your flight status. Allo also understands contextual commands for bringing up your agenda, your photo gallery finding nearby restaurants, and more.
Allo also has a feature called Smart Replies, which have already been seen in Google Inbox. As you continue to use Allo, it learns your messaging patterns and suggests words or phrases to use as a reply. As shown in the GIF below, if someone sends you a message saying “Want to hang out tomorrow?” contextual replies like “Sure” or “I’m down” pop up above the keyboard. Allo can even recognize photos and suggest replies.
Lastly, Allo is taking security seriously by allowing you to switch to Incognito mode, which features end-to-end encryption and discreet notifications. Unlike iMessage, Allo is tied to your phone number, meaning there’s no Wifi support as of right now.
Android will also get a new one-to-one video calling app called Duo. This app is designed to transition seamlessly between your network and wifi, ensuring that you always have a stable video even if you have a slow connection.
Allo allows for HD video and audio, with up to 720p video quality. Duo even has a feature called “Knock Knock” which shows a preview of your caller before answering, creating a more intimate and exciting interaction. Similar to Allo, Duo’s video calls will feature end-to-end encryption.
For a demo of how Duo works, check out this Youtube video.
Both Duo and Allo are tied to your phone number, but right now only Duo can switch between your mobile network and Wi-Fi. Allo and Duo will be available on iOS and Android, and you can sign up on the Google Play store to be notified when they’re released.
Android Updates OS, Wear, and Auto
Android N was announced last March, along with new features like split-screen multitasking, quick settings buttons, and new emojis. Announced last week, Android N will feature an updated notification center, new picture-in-picture mode, and a more sophisticated API called Vulkan, which will allow for more intensive mobile video games and 3D graphics. Android N still doesn’t have a name, but Google is running a contest to suggest what the N could stand for.
Android Wear 2.0
Source: Digital Trends
The Android smartwatch is getting its biggest update since 2014- Any smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0 will become fully autonomous. That means you no longer have to tether your watch to your phone, and you can carry out tasks like texting or exercising straight from your watch. A new QWERTY keyboard will let you swipe out messages without having to bring your phone with you. Users will also be able to view data from any app on any watch face, similar to Apple Watch complications.
Android’s integration with vehicles is becoming more powerful. Waze, the popular Social GPS app bought by Google in 2013, is now built into the platform, letting drivers view traffic and accident alerts as they happen. Android Auto will also get Wi-Fi support and allow you to use the app even if your car isn’t compatible.
Android Instant Apps
Google has already launched AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) which loads pages on mobile devices much quicker than typical web pages, but they’re taking it one step further with Instant Apps. Instead of forcing you to use a mobile site or download a whole Android app, Android Instant Apps only loads the parts of an app that you need. In Google’s demo, a parking meter payment app was pulled up without being downloaded or installed. Google says that setting up Instant Apps will take “less than a day of work” for developers.
We’ll have to wait until later this fall to see how useful and effective these are updates will be, but it’s clear that Google is making strong pushes in the latest trends of Virtual Reality, messaging, voice assistants, and smartwatch software. This is all part of Google’s initiative to “organize the world’s information” and make it more accessible, bridging the divide between our digital worlds and our physical lives.