As usual we’ve taken part in all the big announcements, demos and knowledge sharing at Google I/O. Here are the highlights in mobility that you cannot miss.
Naturally a lot of the focus was on Android which now has over 1 Bn users or 80% of the smartphone market globally. The upcoming OS update is currently referred to as Android M and we don’t yet know if this will be a major release 6.0 or an upgrade to version 5 called 5.3. Regardless, the highlights among the hundreds of new features include:
- Better system to handle permissions which will have a big impact on developers who are not transparent about application access and privacy
- Improved battery life through Doze which can put the phone and/or specific apps in a kind of sleep mode that doubles standby time when not in use or motion
- Standardised fingerprint support will enable easy implementation of fingerprint for authentication and payments for developers
- With Android Pay, Google catches up with Apple and provides standardised payments using NFC technology similar to Apple
- Improved in-app Web Experience by giving more control to developers to embed content/services through the Chrome browser
- Upgrade to App links (intents in developer language) to open content directly in other apps without a user prompt (e.g. when clicking on a Twitter link)
- Standard support for USB-C which means faster charging and support for reverse charging of other devices (maybe your smartwatch that always runs out of battery)
- Then there’s Google Now (or Now on Tap) which according to Bloomberg is a bombshell that could change everything about how you use your phone. Let’s see!
With unlimited photo and video backup, Google leapfrogs the competition. Memory is the number two issue after battery life for millennials’ mobile usage. Apps, photos and videos compete for storage and this means that users often think twice before installing a new app or quickly remove apps not used frequently. With the Google Photos app this barrier could potentially be removed.
Over 0.5m cardboards have been created to date and Google are now upgrading the hardware to support bigger devices with the next update. The new case supports devices with screens up to 6 inches including Apple devices. For more details on how to create a VR experience with Cardboard see Wired’s excellent write-up.
Android M is out now as a developer preview and is expected to be launched on the first phone in September/October.