Google I/O Keynote Announces New Features and Products

Company demonstrated new features, including software that anticipates questions before you ask them

(Image: File)
(Image: File)

Google’s highly anticipated Google I/O keynote took place Thursday and with it came a slew of announcements that may shake up computing from the cloud, to virtual reality, to your mobile device.

[Related: The State of Diversity in Silicon Valley]

The described many of the new features found on the Android M operating system, but a few are standouts. One of them is that Google Maps, Chrome and YouTube will function without an Internet connection. According to Gizmodo, the “lighter” apps are targeted for Google’s “next billion,” people in developing parts of the world where phones are sometimes the only source for Internet access and where connections may be spotty. Set to roll out this year, the offline support requires an initial connection to the Internet, but can continue some features if that connection is lost, including Maps’ turn-by-turn directions; playback of archived YouTube clips (which can still be played up to two days later!); and Chrome’s optimized search results, which load faster and prioritize text and information above data-consuming images.

Speaking of optimizing, Google’s Now on Tap software feature somehow understands context, proactively provides answers, and helps users take action before they may even know action needs to be taken. According to Boy Genius Report, Now on Tap seems to be able to tap into the rest of the device—such as what song you’re listening to on Spotify or that you’ve rented a car that needs gas—and assists users in finding the answers quickly were they to search for artist info or try to locate a gas station. It’s described as a highly complex system, but touted as one of the biggest achievements announced Thursday.

Also announced was the retooled Google Photos, which will allow users to upload an unlimited number of photos and videos. TechCrunch reports that the app will sort photos by date and location, and will store them in a cloud so they don’t take up space on your Android but are still easily accessible. The updated feature adds the ability to create collages, GIFs, movies with soundtracks, and more. And it makes sharing the photos en masse easier, thanks to a link generator. It also trumps the storage capacity of a number of competitors, not only for space, but with cost.

And not to be left out is the introduction of the new USB Type-C, which CNET says will lead to faster charging for phones and other devices.

Google’s announcements are being touted as smartphone-fixing, app-killing and innovative moves in the ongoing battle against Apple, just as both organizations plan to improve their mobile payment systems. And with Google’s status as a diversity darling in Silicon Valley, some of its moves may play well in establishing its presence around the ahead of its competitors.

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