Today, Google kicked off its I/O conference with the traditional keynote full of new product announcements. Here are all the most interesting things Google revealed.
Android M Brings Fingerprint Support, Better Permissions
Just like last year, Google announced a developer preview for the newest version of Android. The next version, Android M, will have new permission controls which allow you to selectively give apps permission to use your camera, microphone and other features. It will also have support for fingerprint sensors that allow you to log in to apps or pay for things with your fingerprint. You can read more about what’s coming in the future in our Android M coverage here.
Google Now On Tap Puts Smart Suggestions Everywhere
Google’s search and voice commands are already pretty stellar. Today, Google announced Now on Tap, which will bring Google Now-style answer cards to any app you’re currently using. Simply hold down the Home button on your device and you can view a list of cards based on the context of the currently-running app app with information you may need.
For example, Google showed an email asking if the recipient would like to see Tomorrowland. Now on Tap offered a card with information about Tomorrowland, a trailer, and links to IMDb and Flixster. In another example, Google demoed Now on Tap being pulled up in a text message conversation reminding the recipient to pick up the dry cleaning. Now on Tap offered to create a reminder to pick up the dry cleaning. Developers can plug into the system to give it deep links to various apps, so the implications of how useful this could be are virtually limitless.
Google Photos Breaks Away From Google+, Manages All Your Photos And Videos
Google has had a strange relationship with photos and videos. Despite owning Picasa and introducing lots of awesome features in Google+ Photos, usage hasn’t always picked up due to being tucked away in Google+. Today, the company is fixing that by breaking Photos off into its own product. It can automatically organise your photos and sort them by location or time, or even faces that appear in the images. You can automatically backup all the photos you take, and all your favourite Auto Awesome features have been incorporated into the new service.
Google Maps Can Search and Navigate Offline
You’ve been able to save map data in Google Maps for offline use for a while now. However, that ability has always been fairly literal: you can look at the maps and that’s about it. Today, Google announced that it’s finally bringing the big guns. Now, if you pre-load map data of a particular area, you can search for locations in that region, get directions, and start turn-by-turn navigation. The offline data even includes restaurant hours and reviews. Now, “offline Maps” finally means the full Maps experience, even without an internet connection.
YouTube Also Joins The Offline Party, Without Music Key
Back in November of last year, Google announced YouTube Music Key, which was an extension of Play Music All Access. One of the key features was that you could download music videos for offline playback. Now the company is bringing that feature to regular YouTube videos, no paid subscription necessary. Users can download videos for offline playback for up to 48 hours.
Android Wear Is Getting Gestures And A Launcher
Android Wear is still in its infancy, but it’s getting better at a rapid pace. While today’s Android Wear announcement wasn’t technically new, it’s still exciting: Android watches will now get gestures that allow you to move between cards by flicking your wrist. They will have power-saving always-on modes that allow you to keep things like your to-do list on your wrist without running down the battery. There will also be an app launcher so you can bring up apps without voice commands.
Google Play Is Getting A Kid-Friendly Family Mode
For parents, keeping kids away from the less savoury parts of content stores can be a nigh-impossible task. Today, Google announced several changes to the Play Store to help make it easier on parents. There will now be kid-friendly version of Apps, Games and Movies & TV that filters out adult content. You can also explore content based on characters like Dora the Explorer or Spongebob.
Brillo Will Be The OS That Runs All Your Smart Home Devices
After Google bought Nest, the company behind one of the best smart thermostats, it was expected that the company would move further into home automation. Today, Google announced Brillo, a stripped-down version of Android that can run on smart devices in your home, as well as a communications network that apps can use to plug into those devices. What that means is that, for example, recipe apps in the future could automatically turn on your Brillo-enabled oven to a certain temperature.