In Praise of Google's Boring 2015 Developer Conference

By Mike Elgan  |  Posted 2015-05-31 Print this article Print
Google I/O 2015

I'm hearing that Google Wallet will be pivoted to become a dedicated peer-to-peer payment system, while Android Pay will be for buying stuff from stores.

Android Pay puts Android on the map as a real competitor to Apple Pay.

Android Gets 26 Billion More Devices

Google announced a new operating system for the Internet of things and home automation called Project Brillo, which Google says is "Android-derived." That sounds like spin, but importantly it means Android developers don't have to start from scratch when creating Internet of things implementations that will work with the 26 billion Internet of things devices Gartner says will exist by 2020.

Brillo was hardly a surprise as the news was leaked earlier in the week, but an API framework for standardizing communication between Internet of things devices and Android phones and tablets was a complete surprise. Called Weave, the platform-agnostic API was pitched as a resource for anyone to use.

We knew Google would get into the Internet of things space in a big way. And this is it.

Everyone Gets Free Unlimited Photo Storage

Google announced a new photo service called Google Photos. This news is the biggest by far for the public and the most insignificant for developers because there's no API or way for third-party apps to use it.

Google+ already had the best cloud-based photo editing tools in the industry. Google improved these further, and added free, unlimited cloud storage to the mix and consciously uncoupled from Google+ (it's a stand-alone service now). Photos are limited to 16 megapixel and videos to 1080p resolution. Oh, and the images are compressed with an admittedly lossless technology.

The photo management and editing tools in Google Photos are mind-bogglingly simple and powerful. Sharing is a one-tap affair. And the machine-learning intensive search feature is jaw-dropping. For example, it can tell the difference between a golden retriever and a cocker spaniel, figure out the location of a picture without geolocation data and even distinguish between different kinds of food.

Best of all, photos are liberated from the constraints of platform. Anyone with a Web browser can manage and edit their pictures. And they can be shared instantly on any social network, email platform, messaging service or even with a direct link.

Google Photos is as far ahead of the competition as the Apple iPad was in 2011. There's literally no reason to use anything else.

Content Creators Get an Open-Source Way to Create VR Videos

Google announced a number of changes around its low-cost, open-source Cardboard virtual reality platform, including an initiative for schools, a new version of Cardboard that supports both iOS phones and large phones up to 6 inches.

But the biggest Cardboard news is that Google announced Jump, which is an open-source, three-part system for the creation of virtual reality content. GoPro is an early partner—and why wouldn't it be? You need to buy 16 GoPro cameras to use it!

Jump consists of 16 camera modules mounted in a circle, a Jump assembler, which is software and a service that crunches 16 disparate video streams into a stereoscopic VR video (this is much harder and far more important for a quality VR experience than it sounds).

And finally Google also announced that YouTube would support Jump VR videos.

There's suddenly no part of the virtual reality equation that Google doesn't have a system or platform for.

Google also announced a wide range of solid improvements to different services that just make them better. Google Maps got offline turn-by-turn directions. Google partnered with Levi's to make interactive jackets. Android M got a "Doze" mode for vastly improved battery life. Paranoid users got "Project Vault," which is a secure microcomputer-on-a-stick that provides a user-controlled security element. The list goes on and on.

The truth is that small, incremental enhancements across all Google initiatives mean that Google is doing it right. If you want to see people jumping out of blimps, go to the GoPro events. If you want to build the next killer app, Google I/O is something you still don't want to miss.



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