Google gives first peek at Android M

Google gives first peek at Android M

Sundar Pichai
Google products chief Sundar Pichai introduced the first look at the next version of Android

Google has shown off some of the functions of the next version of its Android mobile operating system.

Codenamed Android M, it makes it easier for users to control what permissions their apps have access to.

It will also allow fingerprints to be used as ID checks for purchases made through websites and in physical stores, where devices can be used in the place of payment cards via a new service called Android Pay.

Battery life should also be extended.

This will be achieved via a new feature called Doze, which will suspend apps if a device’s sensors indicate it is not being handled. Notifications and alarms, however, will continue to function.

The firm said tests indicated that its Nexus 9 handset could last up to two times longer between charges as a result.

Google I/O
Google is holding its developers conference in San Francisco

The new permissions system means apps will ask to be allowed access to location data, contacts, calendar, camera, microphone and other sensors the first time it needs to use them, rather than at the point of installation.

In addition, users can go into their settings and see what permissions each app is using and revoke the ones they are not happy with.

The firm has attempted to get people to use smartphones to make real-world tap-and-go payments in the past with Google Wallet.

However, it suggested that the new Android Pay facility was superior as users would not need to open up a special app to make a transaction.

Android Pay
Google is making a fresh pitch to power a digital wallet payment system

“In March in the US only 7% of Android users used mobile payments,” noted KWP Comtech analyst Carolina Milanesi.

“Android Pay’s easier user interface will help, but there’s a long way to go.”

The firm has also promised superior voice recognition, including better handling of mispronounced words and conversational requests.

The firm also unveiled a new app, called Google Photos, that automatically organises still pictures and self-made movies stored on its computer servers.

It runs on both Android and iOS.

Google Photos
Google Photos is Android’s rival cloud-based image organiser to Apple’s new Photos app

The app can suggest and create montages set to music, and create links that allow others to see streams of selected images.

Users can save an unlimited amount of photos, up to 16 megapixels in quality, and videos, up to 1080p HD resolution, without charge.

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood suggested that could pose a challenge to Apple’s rival Photos app, which charges consumers who need more than 5 gigabytes of online storage.

“That’s Flickr killed,” he added.

Google products chief Sundar Pichai provided details about Brillo – a new Android-based operating system for “internet of things” devices, such as smart door knobs, thermostats and fridges.

It will help device makers connect their gear to the internet without having to create their own OS, or requiring as much processor power and memory as the full Android system would need.

But it is not the only firm to have pitched such an idea.

In October, the chip designer ARM announced mbed OS as an alternative solution.

“The problem with IoT standards is how many there are to choose from,” commented Benedict Evans from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

“Brillo looks sensible. But this is a slow burn.”

More to follow

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BBC News – Technology

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