Google’s I/O 2015 developer conference kicked off today, and they used their keynote address to announce some pretty neat new stuff for the coming year.  I’ll summarize some of the more interesting bits below, or you can watch the whole presentation via the embedded video starting at about the 43 minute mark:

Android M

The first thing up was the new version of the Android operating system.  It’s currently dubbed “Android M”, though presumably it will get a name more in line with their sweets theme like “Milky Way” later on.

For Android M, Google focused on six major new improvements:

  • Smarter App Permissions – No longer will you have to agree to let an app do anything it wants with your phone in order to install it.  Instead, apps will ask for permission the first time they try to access a feature that requires that permission.
  • Improved Web Browsing – Chrome can now run on top of and integrate with apps so that they don’t have to have their own browsers.
  • Better Link Recognition – If you get a link to a Twitter post or a Youtube video, the phone will open that app automatically when it gets clicked on.
  • Android Pay –  Similar to Apple Pay, it will allow users to make purchases with their phones via NFC, essentially replacing your credit cards.
  • Fingerprint Verification – All apps will now have access to fingerprint verification, including and especially Android Pay.
  • Better Power Management – The new OS will use motion detection to determine if the device is unattended and adjust power consumption accordingly.  You’ll also be able to charge your device with a USB Type C connector, or use the phone to charge something else the same way.

Android Wear

Since Apple created a watch, Google had to come up with something similar.  Their version will have the ability to dim/go black and white to stay on so it doesn’t have to be woken up to be used, use wrist gestures to scroll etc., and recognize voice commands.  They also have a slate of some 4,000 apps to do stuff like integrate with your car.

Google Photos

Starting today you’ll be able to get Google Photos, which is a brand new service/app designed to manage pictures and video.  It has a whole host of new organizational features and a search function that supposedly will be able to find things by subject, like of a snowstorm, and recognize people at any age.

One of the handier additions is being able to select a bunch of photos with a gesture and create a link you can instantly dump into Twitter or some such, rather than having to post photos individually to certain apps.

Oh, and the service will store an unlimited number of photos and video for free, with photos up to 16 MP and video up to 1080p. That should make it much easier for the NSA to keep tabs on everyone.

Offline Google Maps

A big chunk of this presentation was devoted to expanding access to the developing world, and since connectivity sucks for most of it, they’ve done a bit of work to streamline data usage and whatnot to make that easier.  One of the most interesting parts of that effort will be the ability to use Google Maps and turn-by-turn directions while offline.

Apparently Youtube will allow you to store videos offline for 48 hours too so you won’t have any more excuses for not watching The Ed Morrissey Show.

Virtual Reality

Google was not content to have created a virtual reality headset using some cardboard and the average smart phone, and so they teamed up with GoPro to make a 360 degree camera rig called “Jump” designed to allow people to take full on VR video.  It will be available to the public, and it will work with Youtube.

gopro-jump-camera-650-80

They want people to be able to capture experiences rather than mere photos, and their focus is on combining that with their Expeditions program for schools whereby teachers can order a package containing Google Cardboard headsets for the entire class and then immerse kids in these pre-recorded videos of places around the world.

No doubt the most prominent use of the technology will not be to create new and interactive ways to teach kids but to create new and interactive ways for people to watch porn.

So that about sums it up. Google continues its drive to take over the world, and no doubt most people will be happy to go along so long as they continue to provide naughty videos in 3D.

(Yup, the post image is another one by Sarjex! You remember the link to her store, right?)

Update: My apologies for insinuating the Apple Watch came first. That was a bit of poorly worded facetiousness on my part. Android Wear launched in 2014, while Apple Watch came out this past April.