Saturday, 30 May 2015

Silicon Saturday: Google I/O Edition!

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Google's I/O conference happened for a couple of days in San Francisco, and there were a lot of things announced, from a new OS to more Cardboard support, plus many more things. Let's dive in, shall we?

Quite easily the biggest announcement was Android M (Which could be anything from Marzipan to Macaroon) which has a very important feature: App Permissions, which allows the user to decide what data apps are allowed to access (Hopefully no more Candy Crush invites on Facebook!) It also adds Chrome Custom Tabs, which allow mobile sites to perform their own custom animations and transitions on their mobile sites, plus App Linking, which allows you to link apps together so you can switch between them quickly e.g Camera and Photoshop. Android Wear is also getting a new update that adds an Always On feature for apps, plus the ability to draw emojis!

Android Pay has also been announced. You'll pay by placing your phone near the contactless terminal in a store or vending machine, and a notification will pop up. Many retailers have signed up, and you can even sign up for loyalty programs through Android Pay. To top it all off, there's fingerprint authentication in order to keep your details private. Google's also planning to make good of its Nest acquisition by announcing Project Brillo, a low-power OS that communicates with all smart devices.

Many first-party apps are getting updates too: Google Now will be updated to be more contextual, e.g when it detects that you're leaving the airport it'll load up Hailo or Uber, or if you'd had a conversation with a friend about a meal it'll load up the restaurant on Yelp. It's pretty nifty, as is Google Maps' new update, which adds offline maps and reviews, as well as Google Photos' update, which splits is from Google+, automatically backs up every photo, allows you to make videos and collages of pictures and group pics together by location.

Last of all, Google's been foraying evermore into VR with 3 new announcements, all of which are cool: developers will now be able to Cardboard games for iOS, while the Cardboard itself has been given easier-to-assemble parts. The Expeditions program was also announced, which allows teachers to guide kids around faraway places: the students put on Cardboard headsets, while the teacher controls the environment with a tablet. If you want to get into making 360 degree films, then Google also has you covered with its new Jump camera rig, which can transform any camera into a 360 degree filming machine.

What was your favourite announcement? Tell us in the comments!


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