Category Archives: Google Io

Google I/O 2016 in pictures: What happens when you make nerds go outside

I’m going on my fifth year in this tech reporting game, and Google I/O 2016 is the only time I’ve been handed sunglasses, sunscreen, and a protective bandana as part of the welcome pack when I registered at an event.

Google’s big developer conference this year isn’t being held in its normal location at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco—it was moved to the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Google’s hometown of Mountain View. The keynote actually happened in the amphitheatre, and the rest of it was spread out into various ticket and concession booths and the sprawling parking lots surrounding the venue.

As a change of scenery, the move outside was actually fairly pleasant. The worst that can be said of the weather is that it was a little hot the first day and a little windy the second day. My appreciation of the beautiful weather and California greenery was tempered somewhat by an intense allergy to blooming plants, but that isn’t Google’s fault.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

Today, Google dropped a news clusterbomb, launching Android VR, a new Google Assistant, and an Amazon Echo-like Google Home hub. Here’s all the coolest stuff from today’s keynote.

Google Assistant Finally Turns Google’s Voice Commands Into a Helpful, Intelligent Conversation

Google has excelled at voice commands for a long time, but now the voice commands are going anthropomorphic. The company announced Google Assistant, which makes voice commands much more conversational. For example, you can say “I want to see a movie” and Google will provide some suggestions. If you want to narrow it down to kid-friendly movies, you can say “We want to bring the kids.” Google will then help you order tickets automatically.

http://lifehacker.com/everything-you…

The Google Assistant will plug into a bunch of other services that can help you place a reservation at a restaurant via things like OpenTable, get a car with services like Uber, and buy movie tickets with companies like TicketMaster. You can also use the same Google voice commands you’re used to, like “How’s the weather?” or “How tall is Jeff Goldblum?”

Google Home Will Compete With Amazon Echo, Bring Google Assistant and More Into Your Home

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

Google isn’t content letting Amazon be the only one with a smart gadget sitting in your home awaiting your voice command. Today, the company announced Google Home. Much like Amazon’s Echo, Google Home is a stylish speaker and microphone combo that sits in any room in your home. It can field your voice commands from anywhere. If reception to the Echo is any indication, this could be a lot cooler than it sounds. And it already sounds pretty cool.

Google Home will also be able to connect to smart home devices like light switches and speakers to allow you to control your smart home with simple voice commands. Of course, smart homes are still pretty complex and difficult for most users to get into, so this might only help a few niche users.

Android N Still Doesn’t Have a Name, But You Can Suggest One

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

If you were hoping that Android N would finally get a name at I/O, you’re out of luck. However, Google will be asking for suggestions for the name. You can head to this site here to submit your N-flavored dessert. In terms of actual features, Google demoed several things that we already dug up like double-tapping to switch to your last app, and quick replies from notifications. Oh and Android won’t need to optimize apps after an update anymore. Brilliant. A new “beta-quality” version of Android will be rolling out soon for users in the Android Beta Program.

http://lifehacker.com/the-coolest-fe…

Allo and Duo Are Yet Another Google Attempt at Messaging, But They Look Pretty Cool

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

Google hasn’t done so well in the messaging world while trying to compete with things like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. Their new attempt is called Allo, presumably pronounced with a bad impression of a British accent. It comes with a host of smart features like suggested replies, which Inbox users might be familiar with. The new Google Assistant is also built in, helpfully suggesting things like restaurants based on the context of your conversation. You can also adjust text sizes on the fly, for when you really need to get the point across.

If all that sounds like Google’s doing quite a lot of snooping on your conversations, you’re right. So, Google added an Incognito mode that turns off all smart suggestions and scanning for a while. So you can have a conversation without worrying about Google poking in. That might come as small comfort to the more privacy-minded who are worried about the rest of the time you’re not in Incognito mode.

Duo is a separate app for video calling, reminiscent of Apple’s Facetime. You can place. The key standout feature is something Google calls “Knock-Knock” (yes really) which shows you a video feed of the person calling you before you answer. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s still pretty neat.

What Google hasn’t said is how Allo and Duo affect their other messaging strategies. Google now has Hangouts for general messaging, Messenger for SMS, Google Voice for the users who still remember what Google Voice is, and now Allo and Duo. That’s a lot of messaging apps to manage. The smart money is that Allo and Duo will eventually replace Hangouts, but Google isn’t saying right now.

Daydream Is Bringing Powerful Virtual Reality to Your Android Phone

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

As we’ve been expecting, Google is bringing VR to Android with N. Daydream (not to be confused with the Android lock screen feature of the same name) will help developers create high-quality VR applications and experiences. There will also be a set of minimum requirements for phones to determine what hardware is capable of running VR.

Google is also introducing a controller specifically designed to be used in VR, plus a new, non-cardboard headset to hold your phone, along with a number of major manufacturers already signed up to support it. Both will arrive later this fall. Notably, Google’s hardware won’t require external tracking like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive do.

Android Wear Apps Now Work Without a Phone, Smart Replies Make Responding Easy

All the Important Stuff Google Announced at I/O 2016 Today

Android Wear wasn’t the revolution in wearables that Google hoped it would be, but it’s still pretty cool for some people. Now, it’s getting cooler. For starters, apps can now run on the watch without being dependent on your phone, which is awesome for those times when the connection between your phone and watch is wonky.

http://lifehacker.com/is-android-wea…

Wear is also getting some reply improvements. On the upside, Wear devices are now getting smart replies—again, lifted from Inbox—so you can quickly reply with messages based on the context of the conversation. Google also added handwriting recognition and a full keyboard because…well, honestly I’m sure someone wants this. Still, I can’t pretend that typing on your watch will be a good experience.

Android Instant Apps Will Let You Download Just the Part of Apps You Need

Google’s tired of making everyone download entire apps just to use single links. Before the end of the year, Google’s planning to release Android Instant Apps, which will allow users to open just the parts of an Android app that they need.

As an example, Google showed a user opening up a B&H product page. Android downloaded just the product page instance, without having to install the B&H app. This looks like a really cool way to deal with apps that you might want to use once in a while, but don’t necessarily want to keep on your phone all the time. Google hasn’t said when this will roll out specifically, but they’re aiming for this to arrive over the next year.

Android Pay wants to streamline Web payments and customer signups

Example of Android Pay in PaymentRequest.

Today at Alphabet’s annual developer’s conference, the company announced a host of new tools for developers working with Android Pay—including support for Android Instant Apps, a new feature called PaymentRequest, and improvements to the Save To Android Pay API.

In a call with Ars on Tuesday, Senior Director of Product Management for Android Pay Pali Bhat said that the Android Pay team has been working to increase user signups and encourage continued use of the platform, something that all mobile payment platforms have struggled with in the last five years. “We have to deliver more utility and value,” Bhat said.

The new Android Pay features announced today are a means to that end. For instance, Instant Apps—Android’s new name for creating an app-like experience without having to download an app—will come with support for an Android Pay checkout feature. If users tap an Instant App URL, the app will run without installing or taking up valuable space on the user’s phone. With an Android Pay button, an Instant App from a parking garage could speed along the checkout process, for example.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google I/O 2016 Preview: A Chrome/Android merger? Project Tango? VR?

The Shoreline Amphitheatre, the new location of Google I/O 2016. It’s right in Google’s backyard. (credit: Shoreline Amphitheatre)

Google I/O is Google’s annual launch party where the company shows off its biggest products and teaches developers how to be a part of the Google ecosystem. The event takes place from May 18-20 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California.

Google I/O this year is definitely weird. It’s in an all-new location, and the big news that we would expect to happen at I/O—a new version of Android—has already been released. As a result, there is really nothing that we would put at a 100 percent lock for I/O—we just aren’t sure what Google is going to do. The schedule gives us some vague idea of what we can expect to see, but since Google likes to avoid spoiling its announcements, the schedule isn’t always a comprehensive list until after the opening-day keynote. While we aren’t making guaranteed predictions, we can at least offer a list of possibilities based on projects we know are in-the-works at Google HQ.

This is the first Google I/O since Google became a subsidiary under Alphabet, but we’re going to assume most of the other Alphabet companies aren’t going to join in on the fun. None of the divisions in Alphabet are really “new”—the groups have all been inside Google for some time. Even when they were part of Google, most groups didn’t participate in Google I/O. Now that they’re separated even further, we expect their non-participation in I/O to continue. The one exception is Google X (Now just “X”), which famously demoed Google Glass at the show in 2012.

Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Google I/O 2016 schedule is packed with virtual reality talks

Google I/O is only a month away. Today, Google posted a big chunk of the schedule for the event, which contains a few hints about what to expect. The main takeaway: lots and lots of virtual reality talks.

“VR” is an entire content track at Google I/O this year, with seven sessions dedicated to virtual or augmented reality. The most ominous session is titled “Google’s Vision for VR.” The session description is a single sentence, promising to cover “what we have built, what we have learned, and where we are headed.” Google I/O session descriptions are usually a full paragraph, so the ones with really vague, short session descriptions suggest that Google is trying to avoid spoilers. Clay Bavor, the head of Google’s new “Virtual Reality” division, will lead the talk.

Google is slowly building up a large presence in VR. The company already makes a VR painting app called “Tilt Brush,” which our own Sam Machkovech called a “killer app” for the HTC Vive. It supports “VR Videos” on YouTube with 3D, 360-degree video formats. Google Cardboard is the company dipping its toes into the VR space with the cheapest possible platform—a smartphone in a cardboard box. It acquired Thrive Audio, a positional 3D audio company, and has integrated some VR features into the latest version of Android N. Inside the company, some of the most important employees have moved to the VR team, like the former lead designer of Google Search, Jon Wiley, and Alex Faaborg, the former lead designer for Firefox, Google Now, and Android Wear. And supposedly this is just the tip of the iceberg. Google is rumored to be building a VR interface for Android, a standalone VR headset, a Gear VR competitor, and custom SoCs aimed at VR and AR.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Incredible Calculations That Keep Google’s Project Loon Aloft

When we last checked in on Project Loon—Google’s moonshot project to blanket the world with internet-packing weather balloons—one had just circumnavigated the globe in a very quick 22 days . I just attended a talk at Google I/O and got some more info about the challenges the team faces in making this wild-ass project happen.

Read more…

Android Pay is old news now: Google teases Hands Free Payments prototype

Hands Free, by Google

In an afternoon session of Google I/O, several Google representatives showed off the new Android Pay platform and explained to developers how they could use it within their apps. With only a few minutes remaining, senior vice president of ads and commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy showed the audience a quick preview of an “early prototype stage” mobile commerce system that was conducted without using any device whatsoever.

The new project, Ramaswamy said, is called Google Hands Free, and it will be field-tested in the coming years at McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ramaswamy pointed to drive-through situations as occasions where even tap-and-pay functionality on a phone is a bit too complicated.

Ramaswamy then showed the audience a video in which a woman carrying a baby in line at McDonald’s says she’d “like to pay with Google.” The McDonald’s cashier promptly completes the transaction without any device moving between them.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google Maps allows turn-by-turn navigation—offline

At the Google I/O keynote today, Jen Fitzpatrick, Google vice president of engineering and product management, announced that Google Maps will be updated with a more fully featured offline maps function later this year.

Google first introduced offline maps at its I/O developer conference in 2012, letting users select and save a region of Google Maps for later use. With offline maps, GPS-enabled devices were still able to see the blue locator dot on the offline maps.

Now, Google says that users will be able to search for locations within that offline region and even see ratings and other information, just as they are able to with online maps. Turn-by-turn navigation will also be available as well, again without an Internet connection. “Now I can search and navigate the real world, online or offline,” Fitzpatrick said.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

All the New Features of Android M

All the New Features of Android M

Today, Google announced the developer preview of the newest version of Android. As usual, this new version, Android M, will be out later in the year. However, those with certain Nexus devices can download the preview starting today. Here’s what you can expect in the next version of Android.

You Now Have More Control Over App Permissions

All the New Features of Android M

One of the biggest problems with Android since the very beginning was the all-or-nothing approach it took to permissions. You could either give an app permission to use all the things it asked for, or not install it at all. In Android M, permissions will work much more like iOS. You can install an app without giving it a bunch of permissions right off the bat. When it wants to use your microphone or camera, for example, it will ask you when the app needs it. You can later revoke that permission if you want to prevent the app from using your microphone when you don’t specifically allow it. This should help solve the problem of apps requesting a bunch of permissions without necessarily explaining what they’re for.

Fingerprint Support Means (Nearly) the End of Passwords and PINs for Certain Phones

All the New Features of Android M

Android M will be the first version of Android that supports fingerprints at the API level. That means if your phone has a fingerprint scanner, apps can use your fingerprint for authorization instead of a password or PIN. This includes apps like password managers, as well as for payments, like with Android Pay.

Android Pay Overhauls Google’s Mobile Payments (Again)

All the New Features of Android M

Google has made more than one attempt to break into the mobile payments field that haven’t necessarily caught on. Android Pay is the latest attempt that will make it easier to pay using NFC, or in apps that support the platform. You can also unlock payments using your fingerprint, if the app supports the above APIs. Google hasn’t clarified how this will interact with Google Wallet, or if it will replace it entirely.

Direct Share Lets You Send Stuff to Common Contacts

All the New Features of Android M

The Share menu in Android is already pretty cool, but it can also be a hassle to send photos or links to common contacts. Android M has a new feature called Direct Share which gives you quick links to sharing messages with a specific person via a specific app. So, if you frequently send your significant other pictures via Hangouts, Android M will recognize this habit and offer a single button to let you share directly with them.

Text Selection Gets a Lot Better, Adds a Floating Toolbar

All the New Features of Android M

Text selection can be supremely annoying on any mobile device, but Android isn’t always leading that pack. The new version of Android will include improved text selection that will highlight text one word at a time. You can then pull the handle backwards to select by the letter. Perhaps most usefully, Android M will have a floating toolbar that offers cut, copy, and paste buttons, so you won’t need to decipher the obscure icons in the Action Bar anymore.

Volume Controls Have Been Simplified (After Lollipop Screwed Them Up)

All the New Features of Android M

Android Lollipop changed how volume controls worked. The changes were annoying enough that Google itself admitted that the new version was terrible. However, the company also announced that the new volume controls in Android M would make it easier to modify the system volume, music volume, or alarm volume independently.

All the New Features of Android M

All the New Features of Android M

Today, Google announced the developer preview of the newest version of Android. As usual, this new version, Android M, will be out later in the year. However, those with certain Nexus devices can download the preview starting today. Here’s what you can expect in the next version of Android.

You Now Have More Control Over App Permissions

All the New Features of Android M

One of the biggest problems with Android since the very beginning was the all-or-nothing approach it took to permissions. You could either give an app permission to use all the things it asked for, or not install it at all. In Android M, permissions will work much more like iOS. You can install an app without giving it a bunch of permissions right off the bat. When it wants to use your microphone or camera, for example, it will ask you when the app needs it. You can later revoke that permission if you want to prevent the app from using your microphone when you don’t specifically allow it. This should help solve the problem of apps requesting a bunch of permissions without necessarily explaining what they’re for.

Fingerprint Support Means (Nearly) the End of Passwords and PINs for Certain Phones

All the New Features of Android M

Android M will be the first version of Android that supports fingerprints at the API level. That means if your phone has a fingerprint scanner, apps can use your fingerprint for authorization instead of a password or PIN. This includes apps like password managers, as well as for payments, like with Android Pay.

Android Pay Overhauls Google’s Mobile Payments (Again)

All the New Features of Android M

Google has made more than one attempt to break into the mobile payments field that haven’t necessarily caught on. Android Pay is the latest attempt that will make it easier to pay using NFC, or in apps that support the platform. You can also unlock payments using your fingerprint, if the app supports the above APIs. Google hasn’t clarified how this will interact with Google Wallet, or if it will replace it entirely.

Direct Share Lets You Send Stuff to Common Contacts

All the New Features of Android M

The Share menu in Android is already pretty cool, but it can also be a hassle to send photos or links to common contacts. Android M has a new feature called Direct Share which gives you quick links to sharing messages with a specific person via a specific app. So, if you frequently send your significant other pictures via Hangouts, Android M will recognize this habit and offer a single button to let you share directly with them.

Text Selection Gets a Lot Better, Adds a Floating Toolbar

All the New Features of Android M

Text selection can be supremely annoying on any mobile device, but Android isn’t always leading that pack. The new version of Android will include improved text selection that will highlight text one word at a time. You can then pull the handle backwards to select by the letter. Perhaps most usefully, Android M will have a floating toolbar that offers cut, copy, and paste buttons, so you won’t need to decipher the obscure icons in the Action Bar anymore.

Volume Controls Have Been Simplified (After Lollipop Screwed Them Up)

All the New Features of Android M

Android Lollipop changed how volume controls worked. The changes were annoying enough that Google itself admitted that the new version was terrible. However, the company also announced that the new volume controls in Android M would make it easier to modify the system volume, music volume, or alarm volume independently.