I/O 2015: Google unveils Android M, Project Brillo, Android Pay and more!

Google I/O 2015 is just getting started and Google kicked off the conference with an announcement about its highly anticipated Android M. As expected, Google has added new app permissions controls for Android so users have more control over what data they share with developers. The biggest change here is that Android apps will ask for permissions whenever you use specific features within the app instead of before you install the app.

Google also took the wraps off Android Pay for the first time, which is Google’s attempt to breathe new life into its old Google Wallet mobile payments platform. Google says Android Pay will work at over 700,000 stores that accept contactless payments in the United States. Like with Google Wallet and Apple Pay, Android Pay will be based on NFC technology, which has become the standard tech for mobile payments.

Another important new feature is native support for fingerprint scanners, which will go hand-in-hand with Android Pay to help users securely authorize payments with their phones. Although many Android OEMs have released phones with fingerprint sensors before, this is the first time it will become a part of the Android platform itself.

Google is also going to address users’ battery power concerns with a new feature called Doze that will turn off all your device’s background activity when it detects it’s not being used. Google says this feature doubles the standby time on Android devices.

Like Apple, Google is also embracing USB Type-C ports for its devices that offer faster charging and that can be used for multiple functions. Google has already started using USB Type-C ports on its Chromebook laptops and Apple unveiled its first USB Type-C-equipped laptop earlier this year with its new 2015 MacBook.

Android M will be available as a developer preview today and Google’s goal is to have the final version released in the third quarter this year.

Project Brillo

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Google isn’t just putting its software on phones anymore. The company on Thursday unveiled a new platform called Project Brillo that will be its operating system for the so-called “Internet of things,” which is an industry buzzword for having several different household devices that are connected to the Internet and can communicate with one another.

“We hope we can connect devices in a seamless and intuitive way to make them work better for users,” Google Android boss Sundar Pichai said of Project Brillo’s mission.

Android Pay

It’s that time of year, folks. Google I/O is upon us and the search giant, per usual, has a number of big announcements on hand. Just a few moments ago, Google announced a new payment platform dubbed Android Pay that will be coming to Android M.

As one would expect, Android Pay will seemingly operate much like Apple Pay, with fingerprint authentication as well if desired. As for how it works, it’s rather simple. Simply unlock any NFC enabled Android device and hold it in front of a NFC terminal. Notably, your actual credit card number will not be shared with any store.

Notably, Android Pay will reportedly work with devices running KitKat as well.

In keeping with Google’s bread and butter, Android Pay is slated to be an open platform, which is to say that users will be able to add and activate their credit card into Android Pay either via Google’s built-in method or via each individual bank’s own application.

What’s more, Android Pay will also allow app developers to integrate such payment functionality into their own apps. For instance, apps like Lyft will now include an Android Pay payment option that will save users from having to tediously enter in their credit card information.

Android Wear

Android M Android Wear Features

Google has already added support for GPS, Wi-Fi, wrist gestures to Android Wear, the company revealed, but also support for other interesting features such as always-on apps, screen lock and a new launcher. Android Wear devices will even be able to recognize emojis, the company revealed.

Android Wear will offer users an always on screen to show the time – unlike Apple’s Watch which doesn’t have such a feature – and will feature always on apps that’ll let users enjoy various interesting new features. The company said it currently has more than 4,000 apps built specifically for Apple Wear watches, with some apps ready to bring even more features to its smartwatch platform, including Uber, Foursquare and CityMapper.

However, Google did not announce any new Android Wear device during the event, but hinted that more devices are launching later this year. “Ultimately, Android Wear is about choice,” Google said, insisting on the wide variety of Android Wear models already available to buyers. “By the end of the year, there will be many more Android Wear watches.”

Now on Tap

Google Now Update

Google a few moments ago introduced that amazing new changes are coming to Google Now with a new software feature Google is calling ‘Now on Tap’. Now on Tap brings Google Now functionality to the next level by leveraging context awareness to bring you even more information super quickly.

Meet Google Photos, a brand new home for all your digital memories

Android M Google Photos Application

The new photos application isn’t necessarily a surprise, considering that a recent leak from Android Police offered a sneak preview to Google’s new photo management solution.

Just as Google explained on stage, the new app photos app will be smart enough to organize your photos automatically and privately, to give you easier control on photo collections and albums. The Photos app also backs up automatically all your pictures, from a variety of devices, making them all available in a single place.

The app uses machine learning to automatically organize photos by people, things and places, which should definitely come in handy when looking for specific memories. Interestingly, the app is able to recognize the same person regardless of age, which is definitely a handy feature.

Obviously, users will be able to organize photos in their own albums and collections if they so desire.

At the same time, the Photos app also lets you easily share with friends and family (via Twitter) and save photos.

Available TODAY for iOS, Android and Web with FREE UNLIMITED Storage with HD Photos and Videos Storage!

Google Maps OFFLINE Mode is coming with Turn by Turn Navigation:

Google Maps for Android has had some sort of offline support for years now, but it’s definitely not good enough for most use cases, in the current iteration at least. At its I/O conference Google has announced that it’s working on bringing better offline support to Maps sometime before the end of this year.

So in the future you’ll be able to start navigating to places while offline. Currently navigation works offline, but you need to be online when you start it. Additionally, Google Maps will allow offline searches for places and points of interest (with autocomplete no less), something which you can’t do right now.

Reviews and important info such as opening hours show up too. You will still need to initially save the desired maps to your phone, of course. Turn-by-turn voice directions will be available offline too.

Unfortunately the short presentation about this topic was very light on details, so we don’t yet know how much space the saved offline maps will occupy on your device. That may be an issue, as you’d imagine. It’s also unclear whether these new features will become available globally from the get-go, or if we’ll see a more limited rollout first.

New Google Cardboard viewer supports devices up to 6″, iPhones too

Google Cardboard was introduced at last year’s I/O, this year it’s getting a refresh though not as big as you might have hoped. Still, the viewer was redesigned and it now supports devices with up to 6″ screens.

They are also easier to assemble, taking just three steps instead of twelve.

Part of that is that the magnet button was replaced by a cardboard one. I’m not 100% sure how it works, but Google promises it will work with more devices than the magnet button did.

On the software front, the Unity SDK used with Cardboard now supports iOS so iPhones can join in too.

Google is trying to push its VR viewer as an educational too, offering packs of viewers, phones and a tablet to schools. The tablet lets the teacher control the presentation, while kids experience Expeditions – crafted VR experiences with educational value.

By the way, Cardboard has been doing well for itself – it boasts 1 million users that have access to 500 apps.

Watch Google I/O Keynote Replay:

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Here’s what to expect from Google I/O 2015 tomorrow!

Another year, another Google I/O event. It seems that only days ago, we were waiting impatiently to finally learn what the ‘L’ in Android 5.0 stands for and how it is going to change mobile tech. Now, with the next event set for tomorrow, May 28 at 9:30AM PDT (4:30PM GMT – 7:30PM Beirut Time), we are only hours away from another exciting keynote, to fill us in on everything Google has been working on and plans for the future.

And as tradition dictates before such events it’s now time to wrap-up some of the rumors and see what we can expect to see onstage. First things first, after a brief cameo on the official I/O schedule, we are now fairly certain that Google is going to discuss, at least in some shape or form, the next major Android update, currently referred to as Android M.

We can’t really say for sure is the new OS is going to be officially announced, but, we are fairly certain that it is going to have a big focus on Android for business and multiple workspaces. Also, rumors hint at major optimizations in terms of RAM and battery performance. The finalized version of Android M is said to arrive at some point in August, though this timeframe is subject to change.

Past rumor suggest that the OS will offer native support for fingerprint scanners. As for the name, ‘M’ does leave quite a lot of possibilities open. Google could go with a partnership once again, like with KitKat, which puts things like M&Ms, Milky Way and Mars on the table. More conventional guesses are along the lines of Marshmallow or Muffin.

As for new handsets, we have been hearing a lot about Huawei making the next Nexus device. Recently, however, new rumors have suggested that the Chinese manufacturer might be joined by LG, for a total of two new Google devices.

Codenamed Angler, then upcoming LG-made Nexus Smartphone is said to have a 5.2” display. The device’s battery is said to have a capacity around 2,700mAh. LG has reportedly not decided on the chipset for the Angler. However, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 found in the LG G4 is said to be under consideration.

Huawei’s first Nexus device on the other hand, is codenamed Bullhead. Its specs include 5.7” display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset, and 3,500mAh battery – right in line with a previous rumor. The handset will reportedly feature a “more manageable” form factor than the Motorola Nexus 6. Google will reportedly not unveil a new Nexus tablet this year. The search giant will stick with the Nexus 9 through one more product cycle.

There is also the possibility of a few other phones seeing the light of day, or, at least, being discussed at the conference. For one, we have Project ARA. The ambitious modular phone platform has been in development for quite some time and we can only hope that Google has made enough progress on it to be able to showcase some working prototypes. If not, an update on availability dates would be greatly appreciated as well.

Project Fi – Google’s recent move to offer competitive data plans, as a virtual carrier in the US, definitely stirred things up, but, as ambitious as it is, it has one huge drawback – it’s limited to Nexus 6 devices only. This caused a lot of controversy and a lot of people have speculated that launching an essentially budget service on a high-end device can only be a soak test of sorts. So now we can expect that Google will bring more devices to the table sooner or later, the only question is what tech should we expect. There is the possibility of a new budget-friendly Google Fi phone being announced at this year’s I/O to bring the service to the masses. But, this seems a lot less-likely than the aforementioned two Nexus handsets.

The rest of the device rumors we have heard are all pretty low in terms of probability. These include Fit Clip – a new fitness tracker, a new version of Google Glass and Chromecast 2. Also mentioned are things like a home automation speaker and a new version of Google Cardboard, made of plastic, Google Plastic, if you will.

As for the rest of the subjects we can expect Google to touch upon during I/O 2015, we should hear about the impressive growth of the Android user base, just like last year, also, perhaps some talks on home automation and the internet of things (IoT). Android’s specialized siblings – Auto, Wear and TV should also be discussed at length. A special kid-friendly version of the Google Play store could be unveiled at the venue. And we might learn more about the future on Google Wallet, as well.

Google I/O officially kicks off tomorrow at 9:30AM PDT with the all-important keynote presentation. We will be covering the event live, so, be sure to check back with us when the time comes. You can also actively participate in the conference remotely. Google.com/io hosts schedules, resources and tools to participate in lectures and workshops online, so, you can take part in the action .

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Apple to issue emergency software fix for major Message-crashing bug!

iOS Messages Bug Fix

In case you haven’t already heard, a pesky iOS bug unearthed earlier this week has been causing iPhones to crash and reboot when a precise string of characters is received as a text message. Additionally, the bug can also cause the Messages app to crash repeatedly upon opening.

Thankfully, Apple not too long ago issued a statement to CNBC indicating that they’re aware of the issue and that they plan to “make a fix available in a software update.”

Though there’s no indication of when a software update might come down the pipeline, we imagine it will be much sooner rather than later before news of the bug becomes even more widely known.

As reported earlier today, the problem stems from the way iOS processes the offending Unicode text when received in the form of a Messages banner notification. What makes this particular bug so frustrating is that there isn’t much one can do to prevent a mischievous friend from sending the text message in question to your device.

Related News:

Google search results on the iPhone and iPad will soon include iOS apps

Google search results on the iPhone and iPad will soon include iOS appsGoogle announced today that it will soon start indexing iPhone and iPad apps.

Just like Google does on Android for Google Play apps, iOS app indexing will basically allow users to open apps from the search result page, should a certain iPhone or iPad app appear to be relevant to a particular search query.

The search engine giant announced that indexed iOS apps will start showing in iPhone and iPad search results in the coming weeks. At first, just a select range of apps will be included, but Google promised to expand the technology to other app developers “as soon as possible”.

iOS apps will appear in search engine results both from the Google Search iOS app and the Chrome iOS browser, but only if the user is signed into his Google account.

Interested developers can get the full documentation on iOS app indexing from the source link below. Furthermore, Google will also be holding a special talk at this week’s Google I/O developer conference that should help devs make the most out of the new feature.

Apple is the most valuable brand for 2015, Google second, research firm Millard Brown claims

Apple is the most valuable brand for 2015, Google second, research firm Millard Brown claims

In the world of technology, having a discernible brand surely goes a long way. According to Millward Brown, a Kantar-owned company that focuses on brands and their value, Apple is 2015’s holder of the most valuable world in the world, leaving one of its biggest rivals, Google, distant second.

Interestingly, Millward Brown’s 2014 global brand ranking list featured the vice versa situation, with Google at the top and Apple behind, but Cupertino has seen a 67% spike in its brand value to $247 billion, which ensured it the current top spot. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, Apple was also the company with the most valuable brand in the world.

Although unnecessary, Millward Brown says that this wild increase in value is due to the successful market performance of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but you already suspected that this was the reason, right?

The third spot in Millward Brown’s 2015 brand ranking list is occupied by no other than Microsoft, which has also seen a 28% rise in its brand value and is currently worth $115 billion.

We also have Samsung at the 45th spot with a brand evaluation of $21.6 billion. There’s hardly any other smartphone maker in the Top 100.

Apple iOS 9 to Feature Force Touch, New Keyboard and Group Read Receipts!

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The next-generation iPhone will feature some form of Force Touch as one of the biggest new additions to the hardware, a rumor that has been circulating since the beginning of the year and only gaining forward momentum. The report today, however, specifically mentions that Apple has designed iOS 9 “to be Force Touch-ready” and is already hard at work with developers to integrate the technology into various apps.

Since Apple’s work on Force Touch runs the gamut of iOS devices, there’s also a possibility of updated Force Touch displays on new iPad models sometime this year. All iOS versions of Force Touch are also expected to provide the real-time haptic feedback buzz similar to that of the Apple Watch to provide users a physical response when their deep presses have been noticed. As 9to5Mac points out, however, since any new Force Touch on iOS announcement automatically requires the confirmation of new hardware, any iPhone and iPad support for the feature is unlikely to happen at WWDC.

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Next, Apple is rumored to be working on a new keyboard experience for iOS 9, with the company experimenting on multiple designs, like one that is “slightly longer than the current keyboard” and provides users with a more robust suite of editing options while in portrait mode. Also in the works is a more accessible way to access the QuickType keyboard and a redesign to the unpopular Shift Key to provide an easier visual understanding of when shift or caps lock is engaged.

Today’s report also falls in line with previous rumors reporting that Canada will be the first country outside of the United States to support Apple Pay, with the report claiming that iOS 9’s Passbook app includes a “necessary foundation” to support various banks, credit and debit cards, and credit unions within the country. Although Canada is well-prepared for such a service, with many retailers and businesses across the country equipped with the contactless payment terminals needed for Apple Pay, such an expansion outside of the United States has proved difficult for Apple, especially in places like China, so a WWDC announcement yet again seems unlikely.

The final minor update to iOS 9 reported today includes the addition of read receipts to both group chats in iMessage as well as on a per-contact basis. Users will be able to turn on the read receipt functionality for specific recipients while leaving the read status of a message in the dark for other contacts. The company also seems to be considering removing the little-used Game Center app altogether in iOS 9, and minor data points suggest a few additions and updates to the new Health app, as well.

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