The announcements during this year’s Google I/O, for the most part, were merely intriguing, however there were a few things that actually caught my eye and I personally think are worth discussing.
For one…HBO Now IS COMING TO ANDROID!!!
I for one was most excited to hear about this! Currently HBO Now is only available on certain Apple products, but soon it will be available on Android. The catch, which is sort of a very big deal, is that it is only available in the States. In Canada, this is due to Bell’s exclusivity deal with HBO. But fear not fellow Canadians, there is a loop hole; This is for HBO Now on Apple, but I’m sure something similar can be done for Android, Courtesy of The Huffington Post:
- You set up a U.S. iTunes account
- Download the HBO Now app while signed into the iTunes account, and sign up for a 30-day free trial, then
- Use a VPN to mask your real IP address and make HBO think you’re somewhere in the U.S., and
- Use a prepaid credit card to pay for HBO Now through iTunes
Now on Tap
Another announcement was Google Now’s “Now on Tap”. It is one of the more intriguing announcements, which sounds amazing in theory, but we will have to wait and see if it can actually follow through. Now on Tap’s purpose is to, simply put, make your phone smarter. In order to do this, Google Now is becoming much more contextual. It will learn your habits and behaviours and cater to your lifestyle with a lot more context.
For example, If you’re listening to music by Skrillex, and you ask “What is his real name?”, Google Now will know that you are talking about Skrillex and provide you with the answer. Another way this could work is, say if you are taking a trip to Vancouver, it can bring up your boarding pass upon your arrival at the airport. Once you’ve landed in Vancouver, it can also then offer to order you an Uber.
The example that interested me the most was the way Now on Tap would work in situations where you’re reserving at a restaurant. If you were maybe browsing the internet and in your To-Do list was to make a reservation, it would open up a listing of restaurants as well as Yelp reviews among other things. Once you’ve chosen the restaurant you can choose to take a look at the menu, and you can ask to show you what an item looks like, and the phone would know what item you were looking at and provide you an image. I instantly felt the need for this feature.
Project Brillo and Weave
Project Brillo and Weave are Google’s answer to Home Automation. It is essentially an operating system built on the Android, while Weave is used as a communications system that allows your smart devices to communicate with each other. Using both of these you should be able to control several things in your home including the thermostat, door locks, and lights.
Google is not the only corporation competing in this market, but we’ll have to wait and see what Google has to offer that separates itself from the pack. Google will launch Brillo in the 3rd quarter in developer preview, and bring out Weave in the 4th quarter.
Lowkey Project Brillo is actually a plan to take over the world.
— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) May 28, 2015
Last year Google announced the Google Cardboard SDK, now it’s available for iOS and apparently easier to assemble. They also announced Expedition, which is a nifty tool for educational purposes. Essentially this tool allows teachers to take students on a virtual field trip and let them explore certain locations.
Google also announced Jump, a circular camera rig that can hold up to 16 cameras and actually allows you to shoot Virtual Reality videos. They’ve teamed up with GoPro to create Jump and will have it available for this summer, with YouTube support. This actually sounds like something worth checking out, but I can only imagine the hefty cost we would have to endure.
Google Photos with Unlimited Storage For life.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Google just became the real MVP of the tech world. During I/O Google introduced their new Google Photos app, which is focused more on organization, advance zooming and sorting features that make photos easier for you to find. The app has amazing search features which incorporates Google’s machine learning. For example, you can search “Summer time in Toronto” and the app will pull up pictures you took during the summer in Toronto.
That’s not all, Google is giving users free unlimited cloud storage, so you can take as many pictures as you want and they will be backed up to the Google servers. For free. For life. Virtual high-five to Google for that. Heck, if Google was a person, I would hug them.
Google’s first attempt at mobile payment was Google Wallet, which didn’t really take off, but that’s not stopping them from trying again. Android Pay is fundamentally the same as Google Wallet but it has some additional features like more credit card partnerships, fingerprint verification, and secure transaction tokenization.
Android Wear is getting some new updates that enables an ‘always on’ feature which keeps apps on the screen so you can get the information you need at a glance. This puts your watch in a low power, black and white mode so your battery doesn’t take a huge hit.
These updates also include new wrist gestures to scroll between information on your Android Wear watch. This should help when your hands are full. Oh, and you can now draw emojis and the watch will recognize what you’re drawing and send it to your friends. Not sure how good of an artist you have to be though.
The Android OS has always been the center of Google’s I/O for a few years now,and this year was no different. Google Announced the release of Android M, which will be coming later this year. There are a lot of new features and fixes in the new Android. With everything that’s new, Android M will need it’s own article. Stay tuned for that!
Overall I was surprisingly impressed with this year’s conference. I say surprised because there wasn’t much talk about Chromecast or Android TV, which is what I was really looking forward to. Now we’ll have to wait and see if all this new tech will actually perform as promised. I’m also curious to see what the competition has to offer in order to counter what Google’s doing.
What announcement had you most excited? Let us know in the comment section below!