Google made some big announcements on Thursday at its Google I/O event, not the least were the Android “M” mobile operating system, which features the Android Pay mobile payments system; unlimited photo storage via a new “Google Photos for iOS” services, new features for Google Now, and a HomeKit rival called “Project Brillo.”
Android M will prompt users for app permissions when they require access to certain elements of the operating system, including the camera, microphone, contacts, location services, SMS, and more. The new OS will lo deliver an improved web browsing experience with Chrome Custom Tabs, which will function as a Chrome web view overlaid in third-party apps.
Also built-into the new mobile OS will be Doze, a new power and charging system that Google claims can give devices up to double the amount of standby battery life.
Google also announced a new feature for Google Now in Android M, called “Now on Tap.” Now on Tap, allows users to tap on the home button of an Android device to get more information about what’s being displayed on the screen.
Other features of Android “M” include USB-C support, improved Bluetooth low energy scanning, seven additional languages, and more. Android M is available today as a developer preview for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player. The public should see it sometime in the third quarter of 2015.
Google has rebranded and added improved features to its Google Wallet NFC-payments system, giving it the same functionality as competitor Apple Pay, with virtual account numbers and fingerprint authentication. Google says up to 700,000 retailers will accept Android Pay, including McDonald’s, Macy’s, Staples, Target, and more. Android Pay will also be available for in-app purchases.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Discover will offer support for Android Pay, as will major financial institutions and three of the major wireless carriers: AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in the United States. More partners will be announced at later date.
Google’s new Photos app will offer unlimited high-quality photo and video storage at no cost, storing photos at up to 16MP, and video at 1080p resolution. The app will back up all the photos from a device, performs auto-organization to sort photos by people and place, and boasts advanced facial recognition capabilities, as it is able to recognize a person, even as the person ages.
A Photos Assistant can automatically create GIFs and videos from stored content, which can be shared if desired. The new Photos app launches today, and is available on iOS, Android and the Web. For more information, visit the Google Blog.
Project Brillo is a slimmed-down version of Android, designed to compete with Apple’s HomeKit, the operating system will be made available to manufacturers, who will build it into their smart devices, including thermostats, lightbulbs, and more.
Brillo includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 support, and will include a communications layer called Weave, which allows Brillo compatible devices to communicate with mobile devices, and the Internet.
Brillo will be available to developers in Q3, followed by Weave in Q4.