Pretty much everything we thought Google would announce at I/O, the company did, and everything we hoped the company was going to talk about, it didn’t. You can’t win them all. While there were no major surprises, what Google did talk about was pretty cool, from Photos, to Android M, to a greater emphasis on Cardboard. Here’s a list of the top announcements from Thursday.
Unlimited photo and video storage forever and ever, need I say more? Android M was the biggest announcement today for Android users, but for the wide world of consumers, Photos was by far I/O’s most significant news. One of the best parts of Google+ is finally getting spun off into its own separate service, and it’s packing a lot of great features.
Photos isn’t just a simple storage locker. Google designed the experience to easily organize the bajillion selfies you took on your trip to London; the search giant explained that Photos has been designed to help people “take back control of their digital lives.” In addition to automatic backups from phones, tablets and computers, Photos will lets users jump back in time with a nifty slide bar, and there are some cool sharing capabilities, too.
There’s a laundry list of features coming to Android M (name still TBD). Basically, the new update is focusing on a lot of tweaks and under-the-hood improvements, making the functionality of Android that much better. Last year’s update was all about visual changes, but this year it’s all about what you don’t see.
That said, some of the biggest changes users will notice include tweaks to app permissions, which give folks greater control over what an app can and can’t access, and Google Now on Tap, which basically puts Google Now anywhere and everywhere. Rather than summoning Google Now in its own screen, you can access Now cards with just a tap from any app—and you’ll never have to leave the app you’re in.
We still don’t know the name of Android M, though there’s been some speculation that it’ll go by Milkshake when all is said and done. Cue the There Will Be Blood jokes.
Cardboard for iOS
Cardboard always seemed like it had a lot of untapped potential, and our Spidey senses were right. Not only is Cardboard now available for iOS, bringing the experience to millions of new users, but Google is putting more emphasis on what VR can do for education with its new “Expeditions” feature. Now students can go on a field trip to anywhere in the world; heck, anywhere in the known universe. And all you need is a phone and one of Google’s new Cardboard viewers.
Brillo is just a fancy name for Google’s attempt at the Internet of Things (IoT), which is powered by a special version of Android. The new initiative will be used to power connected “things,” such as appliances and other household items. There are enough IoT devices as it is, but Google says its platform is easy for both developers and consumers to jump onboard with. A developer preview is set to be available by Q3, with the first products available by Q4.
Offline navigation in Google Maps
Google Maps has had an offline component for some time now, but it’s getting even more powerful with local search and voice-guided turn-by-turn directions. Basically, offline Google Maps will work and perform exactly as if you were connected, which will be a huge help for folks who don’t always have access to data. A lot of us here at TechnoBuffalo have relied on offline Maps in the past, and now that it’s more powerful, it’ll be even more useful on trips. Google said that the new features will be available “later this year.”
For all the awesome announcements Google made today, it was by no means a home run. Where were all the Android Wear updates? That in particular is a disappointment for me, especially seeing as Apple just introduced its own wearable. I guess Android Wear support for iOS isn’t coming after all. Or, if it is, it’s nowhere near ready enough to be publicly discussed.
What was your favorite announcement from today? Let us know in the comments down below.