Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps,
speaks during the Google I/O 2015 keynote presentation in
San Francisco, Thursday, May 28, 2015.
SAN FRANCISCO —
Google's next version of its Android operating system will boast
new ways to fetch information, pay merchants and protect privacy
on mobile devices as the Internet company duels with Apple in the
quest to make their technology indispensable.
The upgrade will
give Android's personal assistant, Google Now, expanded powers of
intuition that may be greeted as a great convenience to some and a
tad too creepy for others.
Most of the
renovations unveiled Thursday at Google's annual developers'
conference won't be available until late summer or early fall,
around the same time that Apple is expected to release the latest
overhaul of the iOS software that powers the iPhone and iPad.
changes to Android and iOS are becoming increasingly important as
people become more dependent on smartphones to manage their lives.
Android holds about an 80 percent share of the worldwide
smartphone market, with iOS a distant second at 16 percent,
according to the research firm International Data Corp.
Both Google and
Apple are vying to make their products even more ubiquitous by
transplanting much of their mobile technology into automobiles and
Internet-connected televisions and appliances. Google hopes to
play a prominent role in the management of home security and
appliances with a new operating system called Brillo that will
interact with Android devices.
Here's a closer
look at some of the key features in the upcoming Android upgrade,
currently known simply as "M'':
NOW ON TAP
currently learns a user's interests and habits by analyzing search
requests and scanning emails so it can automatically present
helpful information, such as the latest news about a favorite
sports team or how long it will take to get to work.
With the M
upgrade, users will be able to summon Google Now to scan whatever
content might be on a mobile device's screen so it can present
pertinent information about the topic of a text, a song, a video
clip or an article.
The new Android
feature, called "Now on Tap," will be activated by
holding down the device's home button or speaking, "OK Google,"
into the microphone. That action will prompt Now on Tap to scan
the screen in attempt to figure out how to be the most helpful.
Or, if speaking, users can just say what they are seeking, such as
"Who sings this?"
Google is hoping
to provide Android users with what they need at the precise moment
they need it without forcing them to hopscotch from one app to
Android M will
include an alternative to the mobile payment system that Apple
introduced last fall. Google's response, called Android Pay, will
replace Google Wallet for making mobile purchases in stores and
applications. Google Wallet, which came out in 2011, will still
work for sending payments from one person to another.
system, Android Pay can be used to store major credit and debit
cards in smartphones that can be used to pay merchants equipped
with terminals that work with the technology. Android Pay will
also work on devices running on the KitKat and Lollipop versions
of Android released the past two years.
Android M will be
compatible with fingerprint scanners so device users can verify
their identities by pressing a button instead of entering a
passcode. Apple's iPhones began using a fingerprint reader in
supporting fingerprint scanners, Android M will make it easier to
users to prevent mobile applications from grabbing their personal
information. Permission will only need to be granted to each app
if the access is needed for a specific action. That means Android
users won't be asked to share information about their contact
lists, photo rolls or locations until an app won't work without