The Future of Google

Google made clear Thursday that it’s still fighting a multifront war against its old rival, Apple — and that the battles are as heated as ever.

Top Google executives took to a San Francisco stage Thursday to tout their agenda for the next year to a crowd of excited developers. In a series of reveals, Google sketched out ambitious plans to challenge Apple’s ever-expanding reach on mobile devices by bringing the Android mobile operating system into just about everything we use — from watches to televisions to cars.

“We are taking computing beyond mobile,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of products, specifically touting the launch of Android Auto, an in-car Android system that’s now available on Hyundai, General Motors and other major car brands. In the home, Google is introducing a new lightweight operating system, Brillo, for smart appliances such as thermostats, security systems and smart locks.

That ubiquity is important for Google and Apple as more everyday objects become “smart,” or capable of connecting to the Internet. That trend that carries the two companies’ bitter gadget rivalry far beyond the smartphone, as they try to match each other feature-for-feature. Apple is expected to release home hub software at its own developers conference, which will take place at the same convention center next week.

Google also took a decisive stand against Apple in the realm of mobile payments, introducing its own “Android Pay” system, which will be built into the operating system to allow users to pay for items by tapping their smartphones at the register. Google is also adding support for fingerprint authentication for all Android phones, a key feature of Apple’s competing Apple Pay program.

On the wearables front, Google showed off new features of Android Wear, its system for smartwatches and other gear. These include the ability to control menus and scroll through a screen with wrist motions in addition to the touchscreen — for those moments when your hands are full.

The smartphone, however, is still the core of the tech world and the main focus for the company’s software development. Google’s next mobile operating system, currently called “Android M,” focused on polishing Android’s core features. That includes improving the look and feel of transitions between apps, as well as between apps and the Web. Google’s also taken a hard look at how to extend battery life and speed up charging times for Android devices, boasting that its changes have doubled battery life in its own tests.

Google’s also improving its voice control software, Google Now, adding features that let users find information more easily, sort of like footnotes on steroids. In one demo, Google engineers opened an article with a picture of actor Hugh Laurie and tapped on the image to trigger a quick Google search on him — all without opening a separate tab.

Many of the new additions to the software focus on making Android feel more coherent on all devices — a problem Apple, as a hardware and software maker, doesn’t face. Despite a move toward more standardization, however, Pichai was clear that variety is still the spice of Android’s life.

“We want to provide Android for users the way they like it,” he said.

Article Provided By Washington Post

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