Android M, Android Wear, Android Pay and Cardboard VR are the stars of Google I-O

Google I/O 2015, held over a two (2) days span from Thursday May 28th 2015 and Friday May 29th 2015, saw everything I’d expected in my article Google IO 2015 – Google Android VR coming as Android Wear turns it up a Notch  but in greater detail!

And as in the past, the most interesting stuff occurred both before and on the second day of Google I/O.

Android M – AI that can handle your Money, your Privacy and your Power

On Thursday May 28th 2015, Google unveiled the next iteration of the Google Android operating system, codenamed Google M, which is currently available for Developers only to tinker with and design new apps. No name on what the “M” means, but if I had to hazard a guess I’d say “M” means “Marshmallow”, which goes great with biscuits.

It has a nifty new feature, called Now on Tap that is a context-sensitive version of Google Now that is able to sense what you like from your environment. It can read your messages and notifications and like a real AI (Artificial Intelligent) assistant, determine what you like, how you like it an when you want it.

Google Now is also more easily accessible via press and holding the Home key, instead of swiping up on your smartphone and Tablet, something which you’ll have to get used to being as that’s how you normally would close open programs. Making your Smartphone artificially intelligent may not be such a bad thing after all!

Android M and App Permissions – Who Goes There borrowed from Apple iOS

Another noticeable addition that many future users of Android M will notice is that Apps will ask you for permission to use certain devices on your smartphone. This act of asking for

permissions, a concept borrowed from iOS on the Apple iPhone, means that each time an app accesses a device, service or database for the first time on your smartphone, it ask your permission to use that particular device, service or database e.g. the Camera, the your Android Pay Wallet or your Contacts List.

This is thought to have been implemented to curtail rogue App being able to steal your personal information as explained in Google Play Store Apps with AdWare threat to Android Security and thus make Google Android safer for smartphone users.

Combined with smoother transitions and information sharing between multiple apps when opened on your smartphone or Tablet, users should feel more comfortable with their smartphone and apps. These features not only make navigation between apps smoother, but it reduces the worry that their personal information is being siphoned off by some third-party website.

The NSA (National Security Agency) is going to have a harder time spying on smartphones once Google Android M’s updates available as noted in NSA and Five Eyes Alliance in Project Irritant Horn Spying on Arab Spring Jihadists.

But I guess the change that’s a long time coming is Google’s adoption of USB Type-C connector. In simple terms: no more fiddleing with your micro-USB cable to determine which end is up. You can also power share, as this type of connector allows you to share Battery power with a friend’s device eliminating the need to carry a Portable Battery Charger as like those listed in How to extend your smartphone’s battery Life with a Portable Battery Charger.

Google Android Wear – No time like the Present for 4000 Always On App

Google Android Wear, the smartphone OS that’s barely making a dent in the rapidly exploding Wearable’s market, has also implemented many of the changes mentioned in my article Google updates Android Wear before the Apple Watch Deliveries on April 24th 2015 such as wrist gestures, emoji’s and connecting to Wi-Fi to answer calls.

Always On Apps, the equivalent to Always On used on smartphones, allows the last open app to remain on your smartphone as if it were a wallpaper.

This will be especially useful, as choosing from some four thousand (4000) apps is about to make your smartwatch face a bit crowded and your wrist hurt from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from flicking your wrist up and down.

Android Pay – Pay for your Clash of Clans Upgrade Pack and Coffee with you Digital Wallet

Android Pay is finally baked into Google Android M officially.

It’s very similar to Samsung Pay as described in Samsung Pay supports NFC, MST with KNOX Security for Merchants and Banks, working with NFC (Near Field Communication) and a new proprietary technology called MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) to make all transactions secure.

Not only can it be utilized by third-party apps to pay for online items as well as acts as a real-world replacement for your Credit Card, but if you Smartphone has a fingerprint reader, you can authorize payments similar to Apple Pay on the Apple iPhone.

After a very bad start in 2011, Google has learned from the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the secret of making a mobile Wallet work; partnerships with banks and retailers before you launch, not after.

They’ve now got a patchwork quilt of banks and retailers signing up to accept Android Pay after having seen how Apple Pay works and  how convenient it is for shoppers at checkout. All that success with Apple Pay is winning hearts and minds as it relates to the level of security of the platform.

Google Cardboard – Virtual Reality using an expensive GoPro powered Jump Rig

Google has now updated Cardboard, both the physical device and the app work with Apple iOS.

So even if you are an Apple iPhone user, you can still slip your Apple iPhone 6 or 6 Plus into the fold-to-create device, as it now supports devices with 6″ (15.2cm) displays.

Additionally, the Cardboard VR software can stream its content to multiple smartphones configure as Cardboard, potentially taking the idea of Shared Dreaming as shown in the Christopher Nolan movie Inception’s  into the Virtual world. American Schools will love the idea of taking personalized or shared Virtual reality tours using their smartphones.

Google has also partnered with GoPro, makers of Action Cameras to created 360 Degree panoramic images using a news software and hardware system called Jump. Based on sixteen (16) GoPro Camera stitched together in a carousel to shoot footage simultaneously from all angles, it’s designed to create more realistic 360-panoramic footage.

Special software built as part of the Jump suite will stitch the footage from the sixteen (16) GoPro Camera and remote overlap errors that such a setup is bound to incur. Not sure how much this’ll cost.

But at US$130 for a GoPro Hero, there cheapest Acting Camera, we’re looking at least US$500, priced for the serious YouTube Video Developer looking to create 360 Degree Panoramic Video.

Google Photo App – Something free for Apple and Google Video and Photo Enthusiasts

Google has launched a Photos app that’s available for download on Apple iPhones as well as Google Android Smartphone. It allows you to upload and store an unlimited amount of 1080p photos, video and allows you to create links to stream your videos and photos with friends.

Apple Photo, Yahoo Flickr App and Dropbox-owned Loom App as described in Dropbox acquires iOS App Loom as it steamrolls towards the launch of its IPO are now being challenged by this free app that puts no limit on photo and video uploads.

Google ATAP Projects – More Pie in the Sky Ideas for the Distant future

Finally, I must make mention of the Google’s ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) Team’s  flurry of new projects that only futurists and Developers would love:

  • Project Soli – Improved Radar-based Gyroscope Gesture tracking chip that translates hand gestures into commands
  • Project Jacquard – IoT built into clothing, possibly heralding a new trend in connected wearables
  • Project Vault –  Samsung KNOX-like Tech to create a secure play area on a micro-SD Cards

All of these projects are deserving of their own articles, as they are signposts of future products. But by far, Android M, Android Wear, Android Pay and Cardboard VR basically stole the show. Dear reader, prepare your mind for Android M and all it entails!

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.