Google’s annual I/O conference hosted a number of features for Android devices, some of which were surprises, others weren’t, but all were welcome. Android M, the newest iteration of the open source OS, was the star of the show – acquiring a few key features to make the brand’s iconic green mascot more intelligent than ever. Here’s a roundup of what Android fans can look forward to.
In response to Apple Pay, comes the imaginatively named Android Pay. It comes with a bevy of touted features, one of which allows you to pay using your banks app. Another similarity between it and Apples offering is that they both do not give merchants bank card information. Anyone with an Android M device with NFC support can use Android Pay. With 700,000 retailers already committed to the new pay-scheme, it’s off to a flying start.
As an owner of the Nexus 7, one issue which always annoys me about the otherwise best in class performer is its standby battery life – but Google has the answer. Google Doze is a new feature of Android M which allows devices to last up to 2x longer than previous versions whilst in standby mode. This comes as the result of the device entering a ‘deeper’ sleep, which trims down RAM usage and background activity. The device will learn when it is most often being used, and intelligently enter this state accordingly. Doze builds on Lollipops battery saving innovations, achieved through Project Volta. Here’s hoping Google continues this trend with future iterations of its OS.
Standardised support for fingerprint sensors
Android phones, such as the Galaxy S6, have been around for some time now, but Google wants to encourage more devices to join in. The baked-in support of the feature is conducive to more high-end Android handsets, and will lend itself nicely as a security measure for the aforementioned Android Pay.
Okay, this one isn’t strictly a new feature, but Android users benefit from a wealth of improvements, making Google Now significantly faster. Contextual responses is the key difference here; Google uses the example of listening to Skrillex on Spotify, and the user asking ‘What’s his real name?’ Not ‘What’s Skrillex’s real name?’ A far more omniscient personal assistant is a key new feature, made possible by Google’s new ‘natural language engine’.
Want your photos to be instantly synced across your Android devices? Google’s new Photo app has you covered. It’s similar to other photo storage apps, but it differentiates itself by introducing a number of notable features. Intelligent face recognition allows photos to be grouped by who’s in them. And with Google’s new Photo Assistant, you’ll be able to create a collage of your pictures with a click of a button.
The best part of Google Photo? Its users will be able to upload an unlimited amount of high definition movies and pictures to the service, with no charge. That’s right, it’s completely free. Google Photos will be available on both iOS and Android later this year.
Google Play Store
The Play store will undergo a facelift to keep it in line with its contextually aware counterparts. Search results will now be more tailored towards a user’s downloading habits. Further layout changes to help people find the content they value have been introduced. For example, a search for ‘shopping’ will result in two categories being shown: retailers, coupons.
It has also become a lot more kid friendly, with a Google star appearing wherever there is an app suitable for younger audiences. Further information is available for each app, which details whether the app is free via supported ads.
Android M presents a refined experience, rather than a revolutionary one. Implementation of fingerprint support as standard will no doubt make introduction of the feature easier for developers, and Google Doze will keep your device chugging for that extra mile. Google Now is now smarter, and paying for that meal out has gotten a lot faster with Android Pay. We heard a lot of the word ‘soon’ during the conference, so hopefully that means we’ll be able to grab a hold of Android M by the end of the year.