Stable and consistent. Two key drivers that describe Google's roadmap for the future. The intro of the keynote in which they elaborate on their vision, does not follow these drivers; it was kind of messy and not cohesive at all. On May 28 and 29 Google hosted its annual developer conference in San Francisco called Google I/O. We (and people all over the world) followed Google’s vision and all its talks and demonstrations with great enthusiasm.
Google demonstrated lots of futuristic projects and concepts which were all breath taking. Think about touch sensitive clothes, hand gesture recognition in mid air and much much more. For Peperzaken, as a company, there were also some interesting topics which come closer to real life than these futuristic concepts. We will elaborate on a few:
- Ubiquitous computing
- Material Now!
- What’s new in Android M
- Web vs Native
The innovation in the smartphone market passed its peak. Devices tend to get marginally faster and improvements in hardware are not that common. The focus of the market changed to other devices like: Smartwatches, TVs, Cars, Cardboard (Virtual Reality) and others. A seamless experience between these devices is commonly called ubiquitous computing. Your app should offer a seamless experience across a wide range of devices. Think about examples like: WhatsApp or Google Music. Whether you look at one of these apps on your watch, your computer or laptop, your phone or tablet, your TV, the virtual experience is the same. With I/O the ease of development for all these platforms is improved with Google’s new tools and guidelines. The future of cross device apps is an exiting topic.
Another example of more consistency and stability is a set of design guidelines for material design. Google already offered an ever growing set of these guidelines. The update of these guidelines is the biggest update that Google released until now. The update includes guidelines on: layout across devices, new paper elements, new behaviours of elements and more.
At Peperzaken we work on a daily base with Android, and it also got an update! Google announced the new version of the Android platform; Android M. It has a lot of improvements focussed on stability and consistency. The Android M developer preview is available now. The biggest improvements are: a new permission system, Android Pay and Google now. There are of course more. Come by our office if you want to have a talk or experience the development preview version of Android M. The coffee is always ready.
One of the large new features is the new permission system for apps. Currently the user sees a list of all possible permissions that an app requires when an app is installed. You cannot see when they are actually used. With Android M you are not asked to allow permissions when an app is installed, but when an app that runs needs it. This gives a lot more transparency than before.
Another new feature is the next generation of Android pay. This experience is an improved version of Google’s payment service. The three keywords for Android Pay are: Ease of use, Security and Choice. It should be easy to pay, payments should be secure and a user should be able to allow/deny payment whenever they like. It incorporates payment by card, coupons, discount codes and more.
Click here to watch the Google I/O session: Android pay
I would recommend this session video if you want to know about all new features and improvements in Android M.
Web to native
Google also gave their web platform (google Chrome) some new features. Websites can now offer offline support, native push notifications, and more through a new set of Google API’s. To make development for web easier Google released its project polymer 1.0. This project implements web components and polyfills and adds an easy bridge to all features that move the web experience closer to an app-like experience. It aims at implementing and improving new features in the HTML 5 and web standards. This should modernise the web as we experience it today.
Click here to watch the Google I/O session: Modernizing the web
Polymer and web components are in no way a hybrid platform to easily develop hybrid apps, but an interesting way to revolutionise the web experience. Project Polymer, React Native by Facebook and Angular are a set of tools that aim to make web development of single page applications easier and more fun. Interesting new technology to keep an eye on.
Google Now offers smarter context aware search support. Furthermore, Google proactively offers you answers. An interesting form of technology which makes interaction with a phone easier and more fun in the future.
In cooperation with Nest, Google introduced Project Brillo and Google Weave. Weave is a communication standard and Brillo an operating system for devices with an internet connection. Think about washing machines, light bulbs, garage doors, etc. These focus greatly on streamlining and standardising the development for the smart home.
Google also improved its push notification standard in Google Cloud Messaging (GCM). With version 3.0 come: topic management, group messaging and iOS support. By simplifying the notification proces, Google has carried out much of the work from a developer.
It were only two days, but for a developer like me an overload of interesting information flooded into the world. A new version of Android is coming, the focus on cross device experience is emphasised, a new set of design guidelines and much much more that we didn’t cover here. Come by to see us if you want to know more about the other things Google I/O offered or experience Android M for yourself.