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Google hypes Android M, Android Pay, Google Photos at I/O 2015

Jon Gold | June 2, 2015
Google kicked off its annual I/O developer conference Thursday in San Francisco, showing off a new version of Android, a VR camera rig, numerous developer resources, and a lot more besides in an opening keynote that took up the better part of two hours.

The usual Google-flavored privacy qualms apply, of course, as does the frequently cited nostrum about free products generally signifying that you are the product, not the consumer. But the rash of speculation that this spells big trouble for services like Dropbox doesn't seem entirely nonsensical.

Cardboard

It's tough to avoid the impression that Google's very pleased with itself for coming up with Cardboard -- as a company known for its place on the blistering edge of high tech, the change of gears showing off a simple cardboard frame for using smartphones as VR devices is a big one.

The updated version (Cardboard was originally announced at Google I/O 2014) allows it to handle larger phones, of up to 6 inches in diagonal screen size and support for iPhones, to boot. Google showed off a video of a classroom of schoolchildren enjoying a virtual field trip via Cardboard during the event.

Jump

To go with the new virtual reality viewing devices, Google announced a nifty 16-unit system called Jump, which will enable users to create their own VR content and post it to YouTube. GoPro is making a version, which will go out to carefully selected users in July for a six-month pilot project.

It's certainly impressive, but it's also not something you'll be able to buy anytime soon, and the logistics of creating content via Jump and uploading it to YouTube are not entirely clear.

Android Wear

Google talked up its recent update of its Android Wear platform with new gesture controls, including the ability to scroll through menus with the flick of a wrist and draw emojis with a finger. Google also rolled out integration with Uber and several other companies, enabling users to do things like summon a ride with a quick voice command.

These are updates that were already present in the LG Urbane smartwatch, which was announced earlier this month, but Google was bullish on coming devices that will also boast the new feature set.

Project Brillo/Weave

Brillo is a stripped-to-the-bare-bones version of Android designed to run on very low-powered devices. Together with its new machine-to-machine communications standard, dubbed Weave, Brillo represents a major Google push into the Internet of Things.

Google Now

It knows you even more intimately now -- Google demonstrated some impressive new technological breakthroughs in its knowledge-graph/personal assistant/brain replacement Google Now, including natural language processing for easier voice interface and a feature called What's on Tap that displays information based on whatever it is the user is doing at the moment. (e.g. suggesting restaurants when you

 

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