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Google has a big idea to help you save your phone's battery power

And other major announcements from Google’s developer conference last night.

Image: Jeff Chiu/AP

IT WAS A PACKED keynote at Google’s developer conference, Google I/O, last night as the company covered a number of things like Android, Chrome, smartwatches and its work in VR.

Much was covered, to the point where listing them all would take too long, so here are the main points to take away from it.

The next version of Android could offer changes for the better

With Lollipop slowly making its way to devices now, it may feel premature to chat about its successor, but there are a number of features from Android M worth keeping an eye on.

The most eye-catching on is the control of permissions. Instead of granting all of them the moment you download an app, you will be asked if you want to grant it permission to a specific phone feature the moment you try to use it (eg: a photo app wanting to access the camera).

whatsapp-permission

The other major addition is a power-saving mode called Doze, which uses your phone or tablet’s motion sensors to tell whether it’s being used or not. If it isn’t, it will turn off all non-essential features until it’s woken up again.

Google claimed that for a Nexus 9 tablet using Doze lasts up to two times longer but how it works for devices with smaller batteries like the Nexus 5 and 6, let alone non-Google devices, remains to be seen.

Other small additions include fixing the volume buttons and copy and paste features, and more security measures like fingerprint verification, which will allow you to unlock apps.

dozing

Google Now is going to become much better and that’s either cool or scary

In its demo of Now on Tap, Google was able to figure out the context of a message and email and offer you the most relevant cards, either a description of a movie, reviews of a place or just a reminder to do something.

The same thing applies to apps which it can search through immediately. If you’re listening to a song, you can just ask a question as simple as ‘who is this’ and it will provide an answer using the song as context.

That makes it a more powerful tool than before but it will also raise concerns about the amount of data Google has access to.

Context is a powerful tool to use, but while some will be comfortable with this, others will be concerned about the extra data gleaned from apps like Uber.

Google Androids Next Tricks Now on Tap, which carries out Google searches inside apps automatically, sounds useful but it could also creep users out. Source: Jeff Chiu/AP

Google is going to give parents a bit of breathing space

Google has been adding in kid-friendly features to help give parents a bit of breathing space, first with YouTube Kids and now Google Play.

As well as only presenting child-friendly apps, you will also be able to search for apps based on characters and shows like Adventure Time, Dora the Explorer and Spider-Man.

Source: Google Developers/YouTube

The future of Google is offline (well, part of it)

Back in November, Google launched Music Key which has a feature allowing you to download music videos for playing offline.

Now the same functionality is coming to regular YouTube videos, allowing you to download videos for offline playback for up to 48 hours. The same is offered for Google Maps where directions, info and reviews of a place will be included when offline.

Granted, this was spoken about in the context of developing markets where data is scarce, but it sounds like this is a general feature rather than one exclusive to certain markets.

tomorrowland-final Source: Google

Google wants smart objects to learn its own language

One of the least exciting announcements today but still pretty important all the same, all that was covered was the groundwork for its Internet of Things service, Project Brillo, and Weave, the language devices use to talk to each other.

How this will turn out is difficult to say, Apple and Microsoft are in the same boat putting the starting touches to their own versions.

Yet Google’s speciality is data (in case you need reminding) and that could give it an advantage over its competitors as IoT devices search for a common language to use.

Google Androids Next Tricks Source: Jeff Chiu/AP

One of Google+’s best features is finally breaking free

Whatever your thoughts on Google’s social network, its photo-editing capabilities is a highlight. Now it’s been separated from it and given its own app simply called Google Photos.

The layout is similar to the iPhone’s own photo app but there are a few other features worth looking at like automated organisation and ‘Assistant’ which offers suggestions if you need them (similar to Google+ Auto-Awesome feature).

The biggest one, however, is the inclusion of ‘unlimited storage’. The reason it’s in quotation marks is because the limit is 16MP and 1080p, but if you use a DLSR, you’ll have to rely on a paid version.

Source: Google/YouTube

Cardboard could be Google’s trump card

At the same event last year, Google’s cheap way of bringing virtual reality to the masses (provided you have a smartphone and cardboard) was seen as a fun joke to devices like Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus. Now things are a bit more serious

Of the different features talked about, one nice idea is Expeditions which allows teachers and kids to go on field trips using virtual reality.

While it’s a great idea in theory, the same problems like cost (will the kids or schools provide phones for using, for example) will still apply here, but the potential is pretty exciting.

Source: Google for Education/YouTube

Read:As it happened: What happened at Google’s biggest event of the year >

Read: This hugely popular Chrome extension could use your computer to hack websites >

About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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