Google I/O 2015 Logo

4 Cool Things Announced at Google I/O 2015

Google made big announcements last week at its I/O conference which is mainly for developers. But for the consumer, there were some cool things that came out of the conference. Like, Android Auto that will have all 2015 Hyundais supporting this (a separate post will be on Android Auto – this is huge). “HBO to Go” is coming to Android. And enhancements to Cardboard and Wearables were announced. But here are 4 things that make a difference to the consumer?

A New Google Photos App with Free Online Storage

Google has had a photo tool for your Android phone, but it was wrapped in Google+ – No More. Google Photos is a brand new, stand-alone app that will back up an unlimited number of photos and videos for free (photos up to 16MP, video up to 1080p), organize them as a timeline, and group them together by locations, things like “beaches” or “boats,” and people — using what purports to be some pretty advanced auto-tagging. And there is an “Assistant” that helps you share your photos, make collages, or make movies out of them. Wait to see how you can search your photos.

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Sunset Search in Photos App

Google Official Photo App Video

 

Offline Google Maps

How would any of us get around without Google Maps these days? Or get UnLost? But while your driving around you are sucking up data like a vacuum cleaner in a dust bowl.

Google took a big step towards putting its Maps above all others by unveiling a number of offline functions that won’t suck up user data. Voice turn-by-turn navigation, search bars that auto-fill and helpful info like business hours and reviews will arrive on Maps later this year, all with no need for connection.

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The new functionality works both for browsing maps and turn-by-turn directions, voice support and all. It can even pull in local reviews before you go offline, so you can still find information on a restaurant when your data access is low or spotty. The announcement comes after Google release offline support for other products this year, include Chrome and YouTube (in select countries).

The company said offline support will arrive “later this year.”

 

Google Now – “Now on Tap”

To make your smartphone more “smart,” Google says it is working to make Google Now even more contextual by learning your behaviors, habits and lifestyle. To assist you in your daily life, Google Now wants to provide proactive answers – such as estimating how long ride lines are when you arrive to Disneyland or where you parked your car.

now on tap example

To do so, Google Now teased a “Now on Tap” feature that will gain context based on what you’re looking at on your screen. For example, if Google Now knows you are traveling to San Francisco, it can provide your boarding pass upon your arrival to the airport, give you an option to order an Uber when you’ve landed or give you an option to order groceries when you’re en route. You have t see this one in person. It is hard to explain but looks very cool and a timesaver.

Google Pay

They want your money. Android Pay may have made a big splash at IO, but Hands Free payments is by far the cooler tech. Android Pay is a little more streamlined than Apple Pay, but that in no way means Google’s new mobile payments push is going to be as much of a success. First, it’s only being promised for the US. Like iPhone’s digital wallet, Google is staying silent on its UK and Australian launch plans. Country-by-country rollout may decide the winner, especially when it comes to China and India.

android pay

In Google’s version of the future, you’ll never have to pull out a wad of cash or even your NFC-enabled phone again to make a payment. Instead, all you’ll have to do is stand in front of a cash register, say, “I’d like to pay with Google,” and walk away.

It all goes back to Google’s efforts to take away user pain points, and what could be less painful than having to do virtually nothing to buy stuff? Google will start testing its Hands Free payment method in the real world later this year at McDonald’s and Papa John’s pizza joints in the Bay Area.

Here are the stores signing up:

android-pay-stores-650-80Here are the banks:

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The annual Google I/O developers conference gives the company a very public stage to roll out the latest updates to its Android operating system in front of an adoring audience.

Like similar conferences held by Apple and Microsoft, I/O has become a mix of education and celebration. I/O was no different this year, and the keynote was a veritable hit parade of announcements that were met with hearty applause from the crowd. Various Google executives ran through a number of changes, improvements, and new features for the Android operating system, starting with Senior Vice President of Products Sundar Pichai.

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Before kicking off his speech, Pichai noted that in addition to the sold out crowd watching him live in San Francisco, millions of people were watching online and in over 460 simulcast locations in 90 countries. At the end of the day it was a week full of announcements that only tech heads could love. But underneath the tech are game changing, even life changing improvements. All these updates and technologies will find there way into our lives.

Some cool Android Creatures from the show.

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google-io droid

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