If the past few years of Google I/O were anything to go by, this year was never going to be a wow year, which turned out to once again be the case.
Google’s highlights for this years conference, an all new Messaging service, further integration with Google’s voice assistant services and a little known thing called Android has a new version coming soon.
Android N (N for “N”o idea what it’s called yet)
Kicking things off, with practically what Google left till the end, Android N … yes it’s still N, no name just yet. Google have actually entered the stage where they’re asking for user submissions on what to call it. Fancy having a go, submit your naming ideas at https://www.android.com/versions/name-n/
Similar to the way Apple begun with iOS 9, Google are focusing the breadth of Android N on improving performance and graphics at the core of the Android operating system.
Similar to when Apple introduced the “Metal” framework, with Google’s “Vulkan” framwork, Google are to improve performance of the Graphics layer of Android N by taking the Graphical computing power from OpenGL and lower the overhead to the processor itself. Whilst it remains to be seen how much it does improve, we’ll see.
Despite what Google might say, Android has never had a decent history in terms of platform security, Google are attempting to fix this by introducing many layerings across the operating systems. The trio of highlights of Google’s Security improvements coming to Android N, include File based encryption which is important with an OS like Android where the File system is available to all apps, as well as Media Framework and not to mention a whole new update strategy.
Taken from the work done by the Chrome team, Android N will make periodic updates without the user doing a thing, whilst full-scale OS updates will remain, the majority of patches, security information and more will be updated on the fly.
Whilst branding it as Productivity on Google’s side was ironic, Google have made some, one could argue ABOUT TIME, updates to Android in Android N, mainly in the fact that the Multitasking Screen finally has a ‘Clear All’ button, small but seriously why did that ever go away.
It seems like such an ancient feature found on iOS and even Windows Phone, but Android finally has actionable notifications, which is just swell.
WHAT WE KNEW ALREADY
Seen as Google did already release Android N in a very buggy state, which means a lot of the things discussed we already knew, such as the final native Split Screen support. Google are also including Picture in Picture support for Android TV. Google is also including Unicode 9 support with Emojis that actually resemble Emojis.
New Messaging Solutions?
Allo is the very strange named new Messaging solution from Google, which is likely to replace Hangouts in the way that replaced Google Talk back in the day. Allo however has a few quirks up it’s sleeve to be unique including an interesting feature branded ‘Whisper and Shout’, where you can literally send your messages as whispers or shouting, without the need for BOLD AND CAPITAL LETTERS TO EXPRESS VOLUME!
Akin to the likes of OneNote, Google are also integrated Ink in to the fray meaning you can add the last finishing touches to an image you are sending. Google have also included Smart replies built right in, so you can literally answer instantly.
To make everyone think they care about Privacy, Google have also included an Incognito mode in to Allo as well.
Google have also introduced a companion video app, which is annoying as they realistically should have integrated them in to one. Duo has a unique feature up it’s sleeve as well, which Google brand ‘Knock knock’, which allows you to see who is Calling before you answer.
Both Allo and Duo will be available on both iOS and Android devices, “this Summer“.
Android Wear 2.0
Google didn’t announce much in terms of improvements to Android Wear, which is actually more disappointing than any of the other announcements as we’ve been very disappointed with Android Wear recently. The very small improvement list includes;
- Watch faces now features app information (Complications)
- Handwriting & mini keyboard text input
- Standalone apps
Android Instant Apps
If you were to take Google Now On Tap, combined that with the Apps that you have occasional use for, but don’t wish to fully install, you’d be left with Android Instant Apps. This unique way of accessing information, including UI, from a range of Applications, allows you to essentially use an application, you don’t even have?!
Confused? The way it works, based on Google’s example, you could be sent in to an Application via a Link, the Link would then open the Play Store which would essentially take you in to the Play Store and open the Application you don’t even have, then use it as if you had the Application installed. Google claim support for this will need to be built in to applications for them to be put in to layers for them to be able to accessed with UI. In other words, the only slightly interesting thing announced today.