Android 19 May
The first day of the much-awaited Google I/O 2016 event is over and as you might have expected, Google had a lot to announce. There were announcements related to the next Android version, apps, software, hardware, and a lot of other products and services.
So, if you were not among the ones who got to attend Google's annual developer conference in person or you happen to miss out on any of the announcements, then you have come to the right place. We have compiled a list of all the announcements made by Google so that you don't have to go and look for them on your own. So, let's get started:
1. Android N Developer Preview 3:
Google I/O is generally the event where we get to see out first look at the next iteration of Android but this time, it was different. Google introduced Android's next version, Android N to the world in March earlier this year. It is the Developer Preview version and the search giant announced its third build at the event. It is also the first "beta quality" update which makes it good enough to be installed and run on primary Android device.
With Android N Developer Preview 3, Google introduced auto-updates which will change the way Android handles software update. Prior to this, Android used to send a notification to alert about the update and user had to give his permission for downloading as well as the installation of the update. But from now onwards, Android will download the update automatically in the background and it will get auto-installed when the device will be rebooted.
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2. Android N Name:
Since the release for first Android N Developer Preview build, we have got a fair idea of what to expect from the next iteration of Android. We have seen many of its new features and Google has even hinted towards some of them which might be added to Android N in future but there is still one very important thing we all are unaware of. It is the name of Android N. We don't know what does 'N' stand for. It is obvious that it will be a dessert name but the question is which dessert?
Google is yet to give any hint except for the great hint that it would begin with alphabet 'N' but it is currently inviting all the users to suggest names for Android N. Yes, you read it right. You too can suggest any name for Android N as long as it starts with 'N' and belongs to a dessert. There is a dedicated website where you can submit the name you think should be given to Android's next version and who knows, Google might pick the one suggested by you.
And just for the fun fact, it's "Nutella" which is said to be most favorite name among all.
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3. Android Studio 2.2:
As Google I/O is basically an annual developer conference from Google, so it is expected that there will be some announcements focused at developers. So, Google has released Android Studio 2.2 which has been improved and made faster as well as easier for developers to code apps for Android. The new version is said to have faster emulators and enchanced test recording.The good thing is that there is an APK analyzer as well which will help devs to figure out the reason behind an app's big size.
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4. Android TV Hardware Partners and Apps:
Android TV is one of the important Android-based products for Google. It announced new hardware partners and arrival of new apps for the TV. Among all the new hardware partners, Xiaomi took the stage to announce an Android TV-powered Mi Box with 4K support. It will let you play and stream 4K videos at 60fps and you will be able to browse apps and other content using a Bluetooth voice remote. The good thing is that there is also an optional Mi Game Controller which you can buy to enjoy Android games on your TV to the maximum.
As for the apps, there are a number of new apps like WatchESPN, STARZ, CNN, Comedy Central, WATCH ABC, WATCH Disney Junior, MTV, Freeform, and Nickelodeon. The good thing is that Android TV now also has Spotify app so that you can resume your music listening experience on a bigger screen.
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5. Google Assistant:
We know that Google Now is a pretty smart and efficient voice-enabled virtual assistant but is it really the best Google has to offer? Many would say no and yes, they are damn right as Google has introduced a new assistant named as Google Assistant. Googe CEO Sundar Pichai referred it as, "We want you to get things done in your way."
Google Assistant will basically let you ask questions, make queries, and get things done in a more natural way. It will feel like talking to a human instead of a robot. For example, you can ask for movie playing nearby you by saying, "What's playing tonight?" It will show you the listings and then, you can even ask it to book tickets for you.
Google has only shown only a few of the things it can be used for but it is for sure that search giant is aiming really high with this new assistant. We will get to know more about Google Assistant in future.
6. Firebase Analytics:
As the name suggests, Firebase Analytics is an analytical tool for app developers. It is a free tool which will be available for Android and iOS. It will help devs in getting valuable insights related to their apps like user behavior and usage pattern. With the help of these insights, devs will able to figure what is causing a lower user interaction and what could be done to improve it.
7. DayDream Platform for VR:
We all know that VR is the next big thing in the tech world and almost all the major tech companies are interested in taking the bigger piece of the pie. And in the same direction, Google has announced a dedicated VR platform called DayDream. It is aimed at providing the best possible VR experience on Android devices and to achieve this, Google has set a few criteria which every device will need to fulfill to be compatible with DayDream. It will also have a VR app launcher and a VR user interface.
Google has partnered with a number of OEMs which would be releasing DayDream compatible devices later this year. These partners are Samsung, HTC, LG, Asus, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, and Alcatel. As for the platform itself,it will be released in fall this year.
8. Android Wear 2.0:
Google also took the stage to announce Android Wear 2.0 which is the first major update since its first version release. The new update brings visual changes for the most part with new Material Design-inspired notifications. There are also changes in app launcher and you can now tweak around any watch face using third party apps. Google has also introduced new handwriting and gesture typing. The fitness tracking abilities have been improved and now, Android Wear supports stand-alone apps as well.
You can download the developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 from here.
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9. Google Home:
As expected, Google announced a new hardware product named Google Home which is a direct competitor to Amazon Echo. It is basically a speaker with which you can interact using your voice. It can do pretty much everything that Amazon Echo and Google is aiming to offer way more than that. Other than performing usual tasks of asking queries and getting news updates, it can also act as a hub for all your smart devices so that you can control all of them from a single place.
It supports Google Cast and can be connected with other Cast speakers for a multi-room music playback. As we already mentioned that Google Home acts on voice commands, so there are no physical buttons. It will be made available later this year.
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10. Messaging and Video Calling Apps: Allo and Duo:
Google announced two new messaging apps Allo and Duo at the event. Allo is an app which is aimed at making text messaging not only better but smarter. The app will let you shout or whisper your texts as a new of expressing your feelings with shout text having a larger font and whisper text having a smaller font. You will be able to adjust the font size by typing the text and then dragging the Send button up or down. Google has also added Smart Reply feature of the Inbox app to Allo.
The USP of the Allo app is that it has integration with Google Assistant which will help you get things done without any need of leaving the app. All you need to is type @googe and your query. This will invoke the assistant and you will get results on the basis of your query. The app also has an Incognito Mode where all the conversation will be encrypted and get deleted after some time. This mode will neither show the details of both sender and receiver.
As for the Duo app, it is a video calling app which is quite like Apple's FaceTime approach. The unique thing about this app is that receiver will be able to see the caller before even picking up the call. The app is aimed at offering a more reliable and better quality video calling experience.
11. Android Auto:
Android Auto is Google's way of making automobiles smarter and it has been trying to do so for past one year or so. And at Google I/O 2016, it announced a couple of features which might help it see some growth in user adaptability. The first major change is that users can now access Android Auto interface right on their Android smartphone. It will prove to be really handy for those who don't have an Android Auto-compatible head unit.
Another good thing is that Google will be integrating Waze app with Android Auto. It means users will have access to one of the most extensive real-time traffic information.
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12. Android Instant Apps:
Android Instant Apps is Google's way of providing a kind of app demo to the users before they install the whole app. It will basically save user's data as well as time by giving him an idea of what to expect from the app. This feature basically breaks the app into different components and the user will get to use a particular component with no need of any installation upfront.
However, app developers will have to modularize their apps for this feature to work. And this feature will not work for all the apps like games and paid apps. Google has already partnered with a few devs to test the feature and it will be made available for Android devices running version 4.2 or higher.
13. Android Apps on Chrome OS:
We have come across various reports and rumors suggesting that Android apps might come to Chrome OS some day. Well, it looks like that day is going to be April 19th. While Google did not say anything about Android apps on Chrome OS during the keynote, a new listing with the title "Bring Your Android Apps to Chrome OS" was spotted for May 19th at 4 PM local time.
The listing also had following text,
"Today we announced that we're adding the best mobile app experiences in the world, Android apps and the Google Play store, to the best browser in the world, Chrome! Come to this session and test your Android apps for Chrome OS. You will get hands on help from our friendly engineers on how to optimize your Android app for Chromebooks. Oh, and we will also be giving the first 50 developers to show up a free Chromebook so they can get a head start bringing their apps to Chrome!"
So, keep your fingers crossed!!
14. Android Apps and Android Pay:
Google announced a new Play Store section named Google Play Early Access. It is aimed at making it easier for users to find out apps available in the open Beta stage so that they can join the Beta program and share their feedback. Additionally, there is a new Collections section which will show users a number of apps which will be useful in performing a particular task.
The search giant also discussed deep learning and showed how machines and robots are getting smarter because of it. Google CEO Sundar Pichai showed a video where a robot was earlier picking wrong blocks but eventually started picking correct Yellow colored blocks with the help of deep learning. Google is currently working with a team of doctors so that deep learning can be used in medical field.
Google announced Android for Work DevHub to make it easier for developers, Android enthusiasts, and other such like-minded people to connect with each other. Here, users will also get access to Android for Work and Google Play for Work product betas as well as events. There will also be Google experts who will help other members to know about how to make better and useful apps for Android for Work and how to get them featured.
And in last, Google announced the expansion of Android Pay support to ATMs and the mobile web. Google has partnered with Bank of America for the beginning and users will able to use their phones for cash withdrawal by simply tapping it on the ATM machine. As for the mobile web, users will be able to use Android Pay for making payments even when they will use mobile websites for shopping.
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So, this was the recap of all the announcements on day 1 of Google I/O 2016. If you would like to stay updated about all the latest happenings of the event, you can follow all the stories here.