Google I/O tidbits: Android N, Android Wear 2.0, Daydream VR platform, fresh stats & more

By , May 18, 2016

Google IO 2016 keynote image 001

The Google I/O 2016 keynote wrapped up so we compiled interesting tidbits that we think iDownloadBlog readers might be curious to learn about, because it pays off to keep tabs on what competition is doing.

In addition to a pair of new iPhone apps, Google Assistant and Google Home, the search firm updated its developers at I/O 2016 on the latest on Android N, which launches this summer. It also announced Android Wear 2.0, talked about a virtual reality platform, dubbed Daydream, and more.

Android N

Google rewrote and redesigned “some fundamental aspects” of how Android works, focusing on three key themes for Android N: performance, productivity and security. Apps will install faster and take up less storage than before. As for the productivity improvements in Android N, they’re including Multi-Window support and Direct Reply.

Android N multi-window mode
Multi-Window mode in Android N.

With Multi-Window support, more than one app can be displayed at a time in side-by-side multitasking mode or one-above-the-other in split-screen mode. On TV devices, apps can use Picture-in-Picture mode to continue video playback while users are interacting with another app.

Notifications in Android N support the Direct Reply feature so that users can quickly respond to text messages or update task lists directly within the notification interface (yes, we’ve had that since iOS 8). Android N should also bring a lot smoother gaming and faster graphics-intensive apps with Vulkan, Google’s version of iOS’s Metal hardware-accelerated graphics framework.

Nexus devices image 001
Android N Developer Preview is available on a range of devices.

Android N will be required for Daydream, Google’s brand new reference platform for virtual reality applications, smartphones and controller hardware. By the way, Android N won’t be the actual name of the shipping software—Google is accepting submissions for what to call the system until June 8, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.

Name your Android web screenshot 001

On a related note, a new feature, called Android Instant Apps, will let Android devices stream apps and games from the Play Store, meaning you’ll be able to use apps without actually installing them. Android Instant Apps are coming to Android Jelly Bean 4.2 and newer devices later this year.

Android Wear 2.0

The next major version of Google’s Android-based platform for smartwatches launched as a developer beta today. Celebrating its second anniversary, the new Android Wear 2.0 brings standalone apps into full view, allowing smartwatches with an embedded cellular data to have direct network access to the cloud, without needing a paired smartphone.

5.18_Android_A01_Cupcake_A01

Moreover, Android Wear 2.0 enhances the experience with features like a tiny keyboard that you can swipe to choose letters, customizable watch faces, integration with Google’s Fit platform for fitness apps, Google Assistant-powered smart reply suggestions, a full screen handwriting recognition mode and more.

Android Wear 2.0 teaser 001

And akin to complications on the Apple Watch, watch faces on Android Wear 2.0 can now display any piece of information from any other app with no additional work required on a developer’s part.

Android Wear 2.0 slide

Android Wear 2.0 will release for public consumption this fall.

Daydream

Daydream is a brand new virtual-reality platform from Google and one of the surprise highlights of the conference. Promising a high-quality virtual reality experience, Daydream will be coming to compatible  Android phones this fall via the free Android N software update.

Google daydream slide 001

On Android N, Daydream provides a low-latency experience and includes a user interface for notifications when using a viewer. For those wondering, motion-to-photon latency on Nexus 6P running Developer Preview 3 is lower than 20 milliseconds.

Android phones will need to have certain screens and special sensors if they’re to e Daydream certification. Google says that Daydream-ready phones from the likes of HTC, ZTE, Huawei, Asus, Xiaomi, Alcatel, LG and Samsung are coming this fall.

Google Daydream controller reference design

But, Google took Daydream a step further with the introduction of a reference design for VR headsets and controllers for third-party vendors. A Daydream-compatible controller will work in VR-optimized apps and games and include a built-in trackpad and an orientation sensor for accurate motion control.

Take that, Cardboard!

Latest Google stats

Like Apple, Google tends to kick off major keynotes with a state-of-the-Union segment that basically provides updates on its many initiatives. The search company has its tentacles everywhere these days so we were expecting way more numbers than executives delivered on stage.

Here’s what’s happening with Google’s platforms:

  • 600 models of Android-driven smartphones were introduced in 2015
  • Chrome has one billion monthly active users on mobile
  • Google saw 65 billion app installs on Google Play in 2015
  • 25 million Chromecast dongles sold to this date
  • Google Photos has 200 million monthly active users
  • There are 50 million apps for Cardboard available

Oh, and Android Pay is now available in UK and coming soon to Singapore and Australia.

Google Play 65B installs
Google I/O keynote took place Gat the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California.

Firebase is expanding

To make it easier to write cross-platform apps that work together and provide consistent, unified user interfaces, Google announced an expansion of its Firebase solution which is now becoming a unified app platform for Android, iOS and mobile web development.

Android TV and Google Cast

A quick recap of Android TV and Google Cast news:

  • Google Cast, which is built into all Android TV devices, is coming to a lineup of TVs from Magnavox, Philips, Polaroid, Toshiba, Westinghouse and more
  • Sony and Sharp are adding to their Android TV product lines with Sony’s 2016 BRAVIA and Sharp’s Net Player
  • New devices are also on the way with RCA’s first Android TV and Xiaomi’s sleek 4K set-top box
  • In Europe, Android TV will be available from Beko, Grundig and Vestel starting in June
  • New features available in Android N will let Android TV users play video while browsing other content in Picture-in-Picture mode, record live TV and enjoy crisper 4K UHD video with support for High Dynamic Range

Still can’t get enough of Google I/O?

Then how about sitting through the whole keynote?

Watch Google I/O keynote in VR mode

You can re-live the entire Google I/O 2016 keynote on YouTube, or watch it in immersive 360-degree mode inside the Chrome browser (Safari is not supported).

Source: Google

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  • Jamessmooth

    I watched a good part of this, and tbh I was a bit surprised at how many “new” features they were showing for Android that are already on iOS. Quick reply and picture in picture… split screen. I just assumed Android already had these features. I am excited to see what they do with VR… Maybe that will be one of the killer features in the iPhone 7? Also liked the look of Android Wear. Replying by drawing with your fingers on the watch? Love that!

    • Rowan09

      So true for years now Android was becoming more IOS like. This is now less of an incentive to buy Samsung devices because they had a lot of these features on their devices.

      • Benedict

        I see it the other way round. iOS adapted almost everything from Android: e.g.
        – Copy&Paste
        – Multitasking (Screen)
        – Notification Center
        – Notifications on Lock Screen
        – Material Design
        – Quick Toggle Menu/Control Center
        – OTA
        – Auto App Update
        – Third Party Keyboards
        – Share Options
        – Home Screen Background
        – Folders
        – Split Screen
        – PiP
        – Tabbed Browsing
        – Private Browsing
        – …

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        Just the opposite pal, just the opposite…

      • Benedict

        Means what exactly..?

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        It means that Android copied the above features from iOS… I see it that way 🙂 🙂

      • Benedict

        …but only in your own world 🙂

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        And that is the world in which “proper” people like to be in.

      • Benedict

        “Proper” people already have multiuser since 2012. I wonder when it will be revealed in your distorted reality 😉

      • jOn Garrett

        More like iOS in what way? Right now there’s no phone better than Samsung’s Galaxy S7/Edge

      • Rowan09

        When Android was first announced it was really open source, now Google makes its own keyboard which isn’t open source, maps, etc and all Google services are all closed. Why is the S7 Edge so great? I have the phone and it’s marginally better my old S6 Actice.

      • jOn Garrett

        Marginally? The battery upgrade is huge. The micro SD card is back and even better because is adoptable storage. It has fast wireless charging and it’s water and dust resistant. The camera is also noticeably better.

        All those things combined are much more than marginal. Compare any 2 models of iPhone that’s where you’ll find marginal differences.

      • Rowan09

        You don’t own a S7 or even owned the S6 Active. I owned the S6 Active and the battery on the S7 is basically the same, plus it had water resistance and dust resistance. The camera is better but mostly with low light and faster focus. All those things are just as marginal as every other phone upgrade including the iPhone.

      • jOn Garrett

        Go to YouTube and look for Android Fixation.

        I buy every flagship phone every year from both Samsung and Apple.

        I buy multiple tablets from multiple vendors

        I buy wearables

        And tons of other useless shit.

        Im not rich, I don’t have an inheritance but buying things that I want has never been a problem for me going all the way back to when I was 17 years old (In 1987) and paid cash–yes cash for my first car, a Z-28 Camaro.

      • Rowan09

        Stand corrected. Lol

      • Benedict

        S6 was a mess. I sold mine and went back (!) to my Nexus 5 (2013). It was faster in everyday use. Also it runs v6.0.
        But the S7 seems to run perfectly and has the right specs: waterproof, dual SIM/SD support, dualpixel camera focus, large battery, brilliant screen, the right size and speed.

      • Rowan09

        Brilliant screen? The screen was the same as the S6, as I said I owned the S6 Active and the battery life was the same, (The active had a bigger battery than the other S6 phones), the water “resistant” feature was also on the Active and this dustproof feature people talk about on any phone is nonsense, I work in construction and it’s just not true, the camera has better low light and faster focus is all that’s different and the speed of the phone is the same to me, dual sim is only on certain models because the America model doesn’t have dual sim and it had to go back to SD because the phone comes with so much bloatware you hardly had any space for apps, etc.

      • Benedict

        The screen has perhaps the same resolution but is not “the same”. It has been updated and is looking like printed paper (s. S7 Edge) – not comparable with others. So it can be called brilliant indeed.
        The active version has a whole different body to provide water resistance etc. You can’t compare it to the aluminum/glas body of the S7. I don’t quite get your point with the dust but it seems like the phone can resist dust quite good.
        Also the CPU and components are different – therefore the display time is longer though it has a smaller battery. It was no secret that the S6’s battery was not too good.
        The only version I know which does not support dual SIM via the SD slot is the german (european?) version. The UK version does. Would be happy about some info where else to buy it in Europe.

      • Rowan09

        Dust resistance is nonsense on phones because I’ve used non-dust resistant phones and they collect dust the same way. The screen doesn’t look any different come on man and the S6 Active had a larger battery than the S6 (3500mAH) and it gave me the same battery life as the S7 Edge (3600mAH). Of course the CPU is different but my point is it’s just an incremental update.

    • ravinigga

      True but split screen is not (yet available) on iPhone and the plus.
      And for VR don’t know there so many third party’s

    • Benedict

      Yes, Quick Reply, Split Screen etc. were already available for years on Android.
      You can not compare iOS with Android this way, because there are different Android versions of vendors and – because of the customization – third party apps available which provide tousands of different features. These are not included in stock Android, what Google is talking about here.
      Android N seems more like a refinement than an big update to me.

      • Rowan09

        So they added these features to Android that already existed? We’re talking about Android from the base not skinned versions like LG, Samsung, etc.

      • Benedict

        They all run Android. Or you buy your LG and HTC with WindowsXP? Yes they added these features to stock Android, so it is available for everybody.
        And don’t called them skinned versions because you only “see” the “skined theme”. There are a lot of customizations done under the hood. That’s exactly the reason why there are features like PiP or split screen already available on Android.

      • Rowan09

        My point is these features are new to Android OS. No matter how people want to go around it, PIP wasn’t an Android feature at its base and neither were these other features they added. I called them skinned versions because there is obviously a difference with Touch Wiz and pure Android, etc. I own an Android along with my iPhone, so I like them both, especially since I make a lot of money from the fire stick

    • jOn Garrett

      They’re not new, not to Google and certainly not new iOS features.

      Samsung and LG have long had these features, other Android OEM’s as well.

      • Rowan09

        Yes but those are skinned versions. These features are new to Android OS, meaning the base.

      • jOn Garrett

        Well in that case none of these are iOS features since only the latest model iPad has them.

        They’re not iOS features if 90% of iOS devices are locked out ✌

      • Rowan09

        Lol

      • Benedict

        Almost 99% running are customized versions of the AOSP version – because yes, Android is customizsable to core functions. Not like iOS were customizing means changing the background (since OS 4.0 by the way).
        That’s the trick with android – you can go and get an android device and have they features and the hardware you want – and not Apple wants you to have.

      • Rowan09

        Yes because Google makes its money from services, it’s not really any different than Apple. Tell me if Android is so customizable, what can you do to customize maps, or YouTube or even Google keyboard? Let me save the time nothing. Google give you Android and tells you what you can and cannot do as well.

      • jOn Garrett

        You can customize the OS not individual apps you iDiot.

        On Android if we don’t like an app we’re not forced to use it. I decide which app to use to accomplish a task–on iOS apple decides for you.

        If Android is so bad, why do you use it? Obviously there’s something about it that you can’t live without, something or rather many things that your iOS device can’t do because of both hardware and software limitations.

      • Rowan09

        I have no hardware limitations on my iPhone and I jailbreak to get rid of the software limitations for the most part. No one said the iPhone is perfect because it has it issues as well and that’s why I jailbreak my devices. I can live without my Android devices but why should I, I like both. Android is easier to hack while Apple is a lot harder to do so. ASOP means the ability to use open source apps not just theme your device. Google slowly got rid of ASOP apps on the Android. For example Swype was huge and now it’s non existant because Google made Google keyboards, they had ASOP search and now it’s Google Now, etc.

      • jOn Garrett

        The iPhone certainly has hardware limitations.

        Can you watch 2k or 4k video? Strange that the iPhone can record 4k but can’t view it.

        You have a health app but zero sensors on your phone.

        You have a 64bit CPU but only half the RAM needed to fully use it.

        You have no notification LED and no external storage and Bluetooth that works work almost nothing.

        Every version of iOS is hackable, if it wasn’t you’d have no jailbreak.

        What do you mean there’s no swipe??? Plenty of keyboards have swipe including stock keyboards

      • Benedict

        You got it wrong again – and you mix up different things here because your just can’t accept or agree once.
        OEMs customize the apps, features, hardware. Apple doesn’t.
        I can use Maps, Youtube or Google Keyboard or – not (These are bad examples by the way) Morover I can use what I want: Different App Store, different Home Screen Launcher, different Keyboard (yeah I know…iOS tries to do the trick now too).
        So Google doesn’t tell me what I have to use. Even on a Google phone I can use different apps and turn off all this Google stuff. If you don’t like the Hardware or stock Android, feel free to go and get another from the 600 different devices been released in the last year…

  • Steve Harvey

    Apple was playing catch up to Google, now Google is playing catch up with Apple. Love it! Shows Google’s desperation. The new Androis has very few new innovative features.

    • Svs

      In terms of performance its the exact opposite. iOS is known for its stability smoothness and that is going downhill since iOS 7 and keeps on getting worse every major update. Android on the other hand is getting better each and every major update. The first iPad Air started to run like shit since ios 8, just 1 year after its launch!

      • Dao Sasone

        True

      • Rowan09

        Try an Android device 2 years after launch and see how horrible it becomes.

      • jOn Garrett

        Android powers more powerful hardware and a much more robust OS.

        If you want to compare performance don’t skew the test in Apple’s favor–don’t compared weighted down skinned Android, compare Android as Google made it.

      • Rowan09

        The most powerful Android devices every year is never the Nexus, it’s usually Samsung made or Huwaei. More powerful hardware like what octa-core and quad core?

      • jOn Garrett

        If a Nexus device runs pure Android it doesn’t need more powerful hardware.

        Nexus devices are about Android, the Android experience as Google sees it.

      • Rowan09

        You said Android powers more powerful hardware but benchmarks shows the iPhone is just as if not better than every other smartphone in terms of power and performance.

      • jOn Garrett

        Of course it powers more powerful hardware. Android powers bigger screens, more pixels, higher resolutions, stereo sound, more CPU cores, more RAM, bigger batteries. Android can multitask, share content between devices, can connect to ANY Bluetooth, NFC that does more than just mobile payments. Android can run widgets, Touch Wiz can have 3 apps open and running on screen at the same time.

        If iPhones “score” high benchmarks it’s because iOS has less strain on it running on low end hardware.

        Benchmarks do nothing for you in real world use, opining an app a few nano seconds faster than the next guy means nothing.

        A user being able to use their own phone in a way that suits their needs is what matters most.

        When I have a missed notification I have an LED that displays a color based on the missed notification. When I pick my phone up, it also vibrates. You have no such feature on an iPhone.

        If I’m texting back and forth and feel it’s easier to just talk to the person, all I need to do is lift my phone to my ear. If I’m reading, my screen stays on–when I reach the bottom of the page, the screen scrolls up for me. If I get a text message, I can read it and reply to it without it blocking what I’m doing and with no need to launch my messaging app.

        Id rather my phone be 1/8 of a second slower that an iPhone and have all those features and more than not.

      • Rowan09

        You do know no one in the tech world would even agree with anything you said. Benchmarks shows the power of the device and real world usage shows what benchmarks prove. You know that the iPhone 6Plus scaled down 2k go 1080P right?

      • jOn Garrett

        Again, benchmarks mean nothing. When the average iOS or Android fan goes to buy a phone do you think they care or even know what a benchmark is? No, they don’t know and they don’t care.

        When and if ever an iPhone has similar hardware to a Galaxy S then we can talk about benchmarks.

        One more time, one phone launching an app a few nano seconds faster than the other is irrelevant.

        I’m doing multiple things at once on my S7 edge that you never can on an iPhone, I don’t care if your browser opened a hair faster than mine.

      • Rowan09
    • jOn Garrett

      Google is in no way shape or form playing catch up with Apple.

      • Steve Harvey

        I’s sorry folks. I’ve gotta apologize for letting this dumb troll be on here.

  • Jonathan

    I’m trying N on my Nexus 5x (don’t judge. I still like Apple) and am very impressed with its new features. Mainly split-screen, which I hope the iPhone gains in iOS 10.

  • Disasterpiece

    I won’t lie… I do wish iOS supported multi window for phones… By I can admit, when I had a galaxy note 4, I didn’t use it that much… But the option was there