Google I/O – 8 things you need to know about where Google is going next

29 May 2015

A quick sum up of the eight key things that Google launched on the first day of I/O 2015, including Google Photos, Android Pay and Expeditions.

At Google I/O the internet giant gave a tantalising view of where it is headed next – domination of the internet of things (IoT) and mobile devices. Here’s our list of the key developments you need to take stock of.

It is about 17 years since Larry Page and Sergey Brin darted around the campus of Stanford University maxing their credit cards to buy server space to prove their PhD project to better analyse and rank the relationship between websites.

In that time a global business has grown to employ more than 55,000 people worldwide, including approximately 5,000 people directly and indirectly in Dublin.

Google is now a company that straddles not only search but has its Android operating system on more than 80pc of smartphones on the planet, owns the second-biggest search engine YouTube, and has interests in everything from start-ups to broadband and self-driving vehicles.

At I/O yesterday a number of Google product managers revealed where the internet giant is going next.

1. Android M

Google revealed initial details of the successor to Android Lollipop. The new OS will come with proper app permissions. Apps will prompt the user for specific permission when a feature requires it rather than a list of requested permissions. Developers will be able to use Chrome custom tabs to support features like automatic sign-in, autofill and saved passwords. New app links in Android M will allow it to launch apps straight away.

2. Project Brillo – Google’s OS for the internet of things

Brillo is a cut-down Android-based operating system for the internet of things (IoT) that can run on minimal system requirements, such as light bulbs, fridges, doorbells, you name it. Using Brillo, Android smartphones and tablets will automatically detect other IoT devices and offer to add and configure them automatically. Brillo will be available in the third quarter of this year.

3. Android Pay

Android Pay will see Google go head-to-head with rival Apple Pay. Android Pay will allow users to make physical transactions via near-field communication (NFC) as well as in-app purchases.

Google revealed that Android Pay will soon be accepted at more than 700,000 store locations across the US as well as within 1,000 Android apps. Participating brands will include GameStop, McDonalds, Office Depot, Macy’s, Toys R Us, Eventbrite, Wish, Uber, Domino’s, Etsy, B&H, Chipotle, Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway, to name a few.

4. Google Now on Tap

At I/O, Google announced a new Now on Tap feature that makes it possible to ask questions and proactively search for information without leaving apps. For example, if you receive a notification on a messaging app like Snapchat or Messenger from a friend suggesting dinner, users can call up a card offering options such as calling the restaurant or finding it on a map.

5. Google Photos

Google Photos will let users store photos of up to 16MP and 1080p videos in an unlimited fashion. The service, which is available on Android, iOS and the web, is being spun out of Google+ and means you will never need to worry about storage or space for your memories ever again. The competitive implications of the new service for platforms from Instagram to Flickr and even Dropbox are obvious.

6. iOS developer tools via CocoaPods

Google is adopting the popular CocoaPods standard for iOS developers so they can easily integrate Google tools into their apps. CocoaPods will become the default distribution channel for frameworks like Google Analytics, Google Maps and other services.

7. Android developer nanodegree

In collaboration with Udacity, Google said that it is now offering an Android developer nanodegree that takes between six and nine months to complete at a cost of US$200 per month.

The course offers structured learning on front-end development, data analysis and will enable developers to build apps like a media player. On completion students will receive a certificate from both Google and Udacity.

8. Expeditions VR technology

At I/O Google launched Expeditions, an app for shared virtual school field trips that builds on its Cardboard virtual reality toolkit launched last year. Expeditions aims to give students the ability to travel to places they have never been before in virtual reality.

Android image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years