What we have witnessed during the Google I/O 2015 conference was nothing but Google's history in the making. Tech analysts already consider the last keynote a milestone for the future of Mountain View.
As expected, Google announced major news that will lead the company along the path to become more than a ‘search’ giant. From Android M (the new version of the mobile operating system), to Android Pay, from the Internet of Things to Now on Tap, the Big G aims at becoming your first reference in daily life.
During the years, Google I/O has evolved into something more than just a ‘nerdy’ meeting for developers. While the advancements in technology still make the core of the conference, any single announcement throws down the gauntlet in the challenge for the tech business throne.
No doubt competitors (namely Apple and Microsoft) were sitting in their meeting rooms anxiously waiting to understand what they had in store. In less than six months, Google has established itself as the key business player for 2015: Google I/O, in fact, comes right after the launch of the mobile friendly algorithm, set to revolutionize the way brands plan and execute online customer experience.
News, product launches and revelations; in case you missed the keynote, here’s a recap of all the highlights you may write down in your agenda. A wrap of all things Google that will probably change how we make Internet searches, use mobile devices, and communicate with smart objects.
We start with the new version of Android, the company acquired by Google in 2005 to follow the experimental idea of an open mobile operating system, in opposition to the restrictions of iOS. In less than ten years, Android has conquered the world: 8 out of 10 smartphones sold in 2014 were running Android, a figure not likely to drop in the near future.
The highlight of the keynote is surely Google Now On Tap, a new release of Google Now that will include a more contextual modus operandi. Shortly, it can give users more information about the things they are currently looking at in any given app. A sort of contextual assistant that can help you do things faster. And developers won’t have to do anything to enable this feature for their apps, as it’s built-in at the operating system level.
As a result of its success, Android is slowly turning into different forms other than smartphones. The smartwatch is just the first example of this evolution: 7 new models of the Android Wear will be soon released, combined with 4000+ apps, including Shazam and Ford location tracker for your car.
Automotive is certainly one of the competition fields Google is focusing on to expand the range of Android. The smart car will become even smarter, with more than 35 manufactures and suppliers investing in Android Auto, to connect customers wherever they are, on the move (General Motors, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi to name a few).
The media and entertainment industry will also have its bite of technological innovation thanks to the spread - with new exclusive features - of the Android TV (Sony, Philips and Sharp are already in). And talking about TV, HBO Now is coming on Google Play: now you can watch Game of Thrones and your favorite shows on your mobile device.
As for developers, two juicy preview features of the upcoming Android M release are:
The ‘app permissions’ - giving the user a more meaningful choice of the data shared with the app, assigned and revoked in time, not once and for all.
The ‘app links’ - offering developers the ability to link different apps, to switch back and forth from one to another automatically, providing a full and seamless native app experience.
With Apple Pay already changing the way we make purchase, the banking and financial services industry is on the verge of its biggest revolution ever. There’s a full business to develop, and Google doesn’t want to sit in the audience. The failure of Google Wallet as a mobile payments system has paved the way to Android Pay, whose promise is to create a more easy, secure and convenient way to pay.
To be sure Android Pay can compete with Apple’s one touch secure payment, Google is cooperating with financial institutions - American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard - and vendors - including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile - to pre-load the new system on their smartphones. Google also reassures that Android Pay should work with all phones that have an NFC chip and run Android KitKat forward.
Just like Apple Pay, the Android version will work for in-app purchases and traditional retail shopping. All security concerns will be switched off by the new fingerprint scanner support in Android M, that will allow users to unlock the smartphone with their fingerprints and quickly authenticate to authorize payments. Google Wallet will also continue to exist, but focusing on peer-to-peer payments.
Last but not least, a brief note on Google's involvement in the Internet of Things trend. Google is finally giving sense to its recent Nest acquisition by announcing Project Brillo, a first decisive step in this promising market. What is Brillo? We can define it as a new operating system meant to connect all Internet of Things devices.
Derived from - and based on - Android, the new OS has been developed to provide a low power, wireless solution that can be easily scalable to all types of Android devices. Together with Project Brillo will also come Weave, a new cross-platform language to communicate between the operating system, a device and the cloud. A communication layer that could become common standard for all things IoT.
And that's not all: Google will soon add to the equation Jump, the new platform - connected to YouTube and Cardboard VR headset - to help virtual reality take off and become a serious business stuff. The company is really raising the biddings, redoubling its efforts to hinder Apple’s ambition displayed in full power with the launch of iOS 8, Apple Pay and the Apple Watch.
What started as a technological collaboration, then evolved into a battle of operating systems (Android versus iOS), has now become a war between two totally different business models and customer experience strategies.
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