Google held their annual I/O conference today in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, where they discussed the future of Google Now and Android, and introduced exciting new developments like Google Photos, Brillo, and added offline support for a small handful of apps.

Brillo and the Internet of Things

Brillo is an operating system that Google is developing specifically for the Internet of Things ecosystem. Brillo comes from Android, but it’s been “polished” into something more appropriate for IoT use. It uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy, among other features. It uses a language called Weave to talk among Brillo devices, and Android will automatically detect hardware using Weave and Brillo. A developer’s preview is coming in Q3 of this year.

Use Maps, Chrome, and YouTube Offline

Google Maps, Chrome, and even YouTube will now have some form of offline functionality. This seems extraordinarily useful for Maps in particular, because now you won’t have to worry about losing your directions when you lose your signal. Even when offline, you can still move around the map, get turn-by-turn directions, and even use voice commands.

YouTube and Chrome will both let you save videos and webpages for offline viewing, with YouTube letting you save a video for up to two days. Then there’s something called a Network Quality Estimator for Chrome that analyzes your connection to the network and optimizes your surfing, loading pages 4x faster and using 80less MB.

Google Now

Google Now is getting smarter, and while that should probably terrify me, I’m too excited to care. Google Now will now be infused into every part of Android, so it knows exactly what is going on and can respond accordingly, especially in regards to what is currently on the screen. If you’re listening to music, you can say “OK Google” to get its attention, and then ask about a band’s lead singer or an artist’s real name, things like that.

According to Google, they wanted Google Now to be more proactive (let’s see how you feel about that when it proactively decides to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth). If you ask about a business, Google Now can you tell you their hours, when they’re busy, what you’ll probably need to purchase, and more. Scary? A little, but we all want our own version of Tony Stark’s Jarvis.


Google Photos

Google just dropped a bombshell in the wars for cloud superiority. Google Photos will let you store unlimited 16-megapixel photos and 1080p videos in the cloud for absolutely free. The app will automatically back up your media at the highest quality available to the cloud, where they will be available from any device. The app isn’t just for Android devices, but also iOS and PC. And you don’t have to wait for Android M, as it’s available right now.

Android M

Speaking of Android M, the newest OS update has now been officially announced for release later this year. Google is going “back to the basics,” improving the quality of the platform rather than the aesthetics. Google has been looking at what developers have been doing with Android, taking the best ideas and making them part of the core experience.

The apps permissions system will be redesigned, letting users approve or deny security permissions on a case by case basis.

Google Chrome is getting a feature called “Chrome Custom Tabs” that will allow developers to put webviews direction into their apps, so users won’t have to switch applications to view a relevant webpage.

Something that I like is that app-to-app transitions are being streamlined, so one app can open another without having to ask your permission, such as clicking a link on a website to open a tweet in a Twitter application.

Android Pay will be a part of Android M and use NFC and Host Card Emulations for tap-to-pay services, which developers can also utilize in their apps. Android Pay will come pre-installed on AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile devices and will be accepted in 700,000 stores across the US.

Android M comes with a feature called Doze that will use motion detection to decide if you’re using the phone or not, and if it decides that you’re not, the feature will shutdown certain background processes to save battery life.

Android M brings with it native USB Type-C support.

Finally, little things are being looked at and improved, like volume control and copy and paste.

Android M won’t be available to everybody until later this year, but developers can get their hands on a preview build right now.

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