Google I/O is a time once a year when Google gets to show off all the things it has been keeping secret for months. The two day conference kicked off today with a two and a half hour keynote speech highlighting the biggest announcements of the day. There are still two entire days of surprises and reveals in store but we thought we would catch you up on the most important things so far.
1. Google Announced a New Operating System
Many Android users will tell you that the Kit-Kat operating system was less than easy to work with, and Lollipop isn’t available for all devices so it is about time Google brought us a new OS. So far M looks a lot more user friendly. The web experience has been optimized so you don’t have to leave an app to open a link, instead the browser runs on top of it in the same color and look. Fingerprint support has been upgraded so you can now use your finger to buy things on certain websites or verify Google Pay. It will even recognize if you haven’t used a device for awhile, like when you’re sleeping or in a meeting and go into a deeper sleep state to save battery. It looks like a pretty solid system, and I’m sure we’ll learn more about it in the coming couple days.
2. Android Wear is Going to Be Easier to Use
Following the surprisingly successful release of the Apple Watch, it was no surprise Google would want a piece of that sweet action. Navigation is more streamlined. Now you can shake your wrist to shuffle between apps or return to the home page. Call and Uber from your watch and track where it is all without taking out your phone. One of the more interesting new features is emoji recognition. Instead of wasting your time scrolling through the now hundreds of available emojis, draw the one you want and the watch will pull it up for you. Who said Google isn’t saving the world? There are designated talk times for Android Wear so I’m sure the company has more in store.
3. Google Now is Getting Even More Advanced
Google Now has always acted like a personal assistant, making reminders, keeping boarding passes and delivering you the score of your favorite game. Today’s demo showed an app that is even more integrated into your life. When you open an email or text containing the name of a certain restaurant or movie, the app will bring up information about that. You can get directions, read reviews or look at the menu. It knows when you’re returning a rental car to the airport and will let you know where the closest gas stations are. The most amazing feature is how the app uses context. While you’re listening to music you can ask the app “How many albums has he made?” and it will bring up a search without you needing to be more specific.
4. Finding Your Photos is Now Incredibly Fast
This is one we weren’t expecting to be talked about during the keynote. How exciting can a photo app be? Turns out pretty exciting. It allows you to access and view photos from any device sort of like the Cloud but hopefully less hackable. You can search for keywords like “luau” and the app will bring up all the photos from that time. The most interesting thing is you can search for specific people. Click on someone’s face and it will bring up every photo you have of that one person. It’s going to make looking for specific things much easier.
5. Users Can Create Virtual Reality Content
The company even announced a new cool way to make those photos you’ll have stored on your phone forever. A person will be able to create 360 degree content. Like Cardboard VR, the company will release the specs and blueprints so anyone can make a camera rig at home and attach any cameras they have available. If that seems like too much work, GoPro created one that will be out soon. Essentially, the rig is in a circle so you get a photo of something from every angle. Then, use the Assembler to put it all together. This will do all the color correction and take out the seams. Throw that up on YouTube and anyone with a Google Cardboard will be able to see your created virtual reality. It actually is a really cool idea.