Google I/O is over for another year, there’s been a lot of new products announced, from hardware like Google Home and the new Daydream specification for future virtual reality hardware to software like the Daydream platform itself, messaging and video conferencing apps like Allo and Duo and more server side software platforms like the Google Assistant and of course lots, lots more.
There’s not a real lot to play with right now except at a developer level, so when can John Q Public get their hands on the new Google goodies?
Starting with the big one, Android N is of course available in developer preview, which you can try now. Google announced new features for Android N which includes the new seamless update service, as well as all the VR plugins you can try and are available in the Dev Preview 3.
The Android N Dev preview is available for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Pixel C and Nexus Player, but when will you be able to get your hands on it if you don’t want to run a developer Preview?
There will be 5 pre-release versions of Android N Developer preview; we got our third this week, the next version will contain the final APIs and official SDK, as well as Play publishing. Google says ‘the final N release to device makers this summer’. This means that they will be able to get their hands on the latest version Android earlier than ever.
You can read the complete round up of all the new Android N features in Duncan’s excellent round up of the Android N Keynote announcements here.
Allo and Duo
Google’s new messaging and video apps – Allo and Duo – will be launched later this year. Google will be releasing both apps widely, targetting a global release, specifically stating that they will be available in 78 languages including Portugese and Spanish. They haven’t announced which languages those 78 languages will be, but English will be one and we’ll be able to get access to it when it launches.
So. When will it launch? Winter. Well, our Summer, that means fairly late this year.
You can pre-register to download both Allo and Duo from Google Play right now so as soon as they’re ready you’ll get the prompt to download them. Head to Google Play and hit the pre-register button now.
Google Assistant and Google Home
Some of the more exciting products announced at Google I/O was the new Google Assistant, and the first Google Assistant hardware, a smart home assistant called Google Home. Google is being very cagey about these products, understandably. They haven’t actually announced any real time frame beyond ‘later this year’.
Google is also being pretty tight-lipped about where they will launch Google Home. We did manage to get a bit of a confirmation with Sundar himself advising that Google Home would launch in the US first, but people in Australia would be able to get their hands on it later.
There’s reasons for this careful approach, a number of the services we saw demoed at Google I/O very likely won’t work in Australia. Google has always attempted to localise each product to a country before launch – think localisation of Chromecast – so expect to see a similar delay while they work out a few partnerships here.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to import one 😉 when it launches in the US ;).
Daydream and Virtual Reality
Daydream is a two-part launch. There’s the hardware which includes specially launched phones which meet requirements laid out in the Daydream design spec and a reference design for a headset and controller. There’s partners from major OEMs on board for Daydream, so you can look forward to seeing Daydream certified phones, with specific sensors and screens, from Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, Asus and Alcatel.
The hardware also consists of a controller and headset reference design that manufacturers will be making. Google themselves are also getting in on the Daydream headset range, announcing they will be releasing their own headset and controller.
While Daydream is hardware it’s also software, with Daydream Home and of course Android VR mode a big part of the Daydream platform – they are basically married. So the the big question is when? The answer is later this year. Why? because it’s all linked to Android N and that release. Everyone has to wait for Google to release Android N and that also leads us to speculate (with a pretty high degree of certainty) that the 2016 Nexus phones will be Daydream spec.
The official answer from Google on all of this is ‘ more information will come in the Fall…or, for us here in Australia, Spring.
Android Wear 2.0
Well, with a new UI, interactions between complications on watch faces and apps, and better battery saving features, Android Wear 2.0 is a pretty exciting. For the die-hard Android Wear fans, if you have an LG Urbane 2, or a Huawei Watch you can try the Android Wear 2.0 Dev preview. For the rest of us mere mortals – Google is announcing the ‘Fall’ as a good time for a release of Android Wear 2.0.
Why Fall? Well, Android Wear 2.0 is based on Android N, so basically it can’t come out until Android N is released. Will your watch receive the update? Google says they are in talks with all 12 of the Android Wear OEM partners, so the answer is stay tuned.
If you’d like to check out a closer look at Android Wear 2.0, this great walk through from the Android Developers team should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect:
There was a couple of new announcements for Android Auto at Google I/O – first a new standalone app will be coming to phones and tablets which will mean you can run Android Auto on that rather than investing in an expensive new head unit…or new car with it pre-installed. Google also announced that maps and navigation app Waze will be coming to Android Auto to supply services as well.
The answer on when we’ll see these is completely up in the air. Google has no details on release date for either the app, or the Waze launch. Essentially, they’re announced, but we’re not going to see much for a while.
Lastly, there’s a new version of Android Auto coming, but rather than running as a sort of app on an infotainment system, this version of Android Auto will power the entire system. The embedded Android Auto will run the complete HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning) Bluetooth and all the controls in the car. There’s nothing to announce on this, it’s a concept at the moment, but it’s darn cool as we found out when we got a demo at Google I/O:
Google announced a new system for Android Apps available on Google Play during Google I/O, instead of actually installing a full app, compatible apps will be able to download modular components of their core required to perform certain functions while leaving the rest. It’s a very cool feature which should see app visibility skyrocket, but it’s a big change requiring developers to make changes to their apps.
Because of changes required, Google will be working with developers to make sure that their apps can do it correctly. If you know a developer who wants to get in on this action, direct them to the Android Instant Apps sign-up page to express their interest.
Google Play on Chrome OS
Finally. That’s all we’ve got to say about that. Google announced at Google I/O that you will soon be able to install your favourite Android apps on Chromebooks, Chromebases, Chromebits and Chromeboxes – if it runs Chrome OS you can do it. Thanks to a new Hardware Abstraction Layer that puts Android framework onto your Chromebook, Google Play can run and your Android apps will simply run.
When is it coming? Hold on cowboy, you need the right Chromebook to get early access to this one. Initially only the Asus Chromebook flip, Acer Chromebook R11 and Chromebook Pixel (2015) will get access to Google Play on Chrome OS. Google will begin rolling it out in the Dev Channel on Chrome OS in M53 build in early June.
Google has advised that availability will be expanded to Chromebooks running on the Intel Braswell CPUs, Intel Broadwell, Intel Skylake as well as ARM Rockchip 3288 platforms will be compatible, with BayTrail devices also joining the list when announced. Google has released a list of devices that are compatible here on their support site.
That’s about it for the availability side of things. For a more complete run down on Google I/O check out our Google I/O feature page with all our stories on the announcements right here, and stay tuned for some more to appear over the next few days.