Some Google I/O Highlights; iPhone X Plus Will Be Sized like iPhone 8 Plus; Twitter’s Unlaunched ‘Secret’ Messages

There was a lot to unpack at the keynote for Google I/O today, but here are a few highlights. It was announced that Android P will not only add gestures like the iPhone X has, but will use AI to predict what apps you’ll use in the near future. In addition, according to cnet.com, Google claims to save battery life with ‘adaptive brightness’ to control the screens brightness level based on your surroundings. for Gmail, they announced Smart Compose…which also uses AI to predict what you will write and suggests common phrases. Smart Compose should roll out in the next few weeks, but you can access it now by hitting ‘experimental access’ in your settings menu.

Google Assistant has gotten more conversational and smarter…it will now listen for up to 8 seconds, so you don’t have to keep saying ‘Hey, Google’ or ‘OK Google!’ Google Routines now allows you to design your own routines that launch simultaneous commands, much like Apple HomeKit Scenes. Before long, you will be able to order food for takeout or delivery on Android phones. Assistant now has 8 voices to choose from, including John Legend’s.

The upcoming iPhone X Plus, or whatever they end up calling the model this fall will be the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus…but with a 6.5 inch screen instead of the 8’s 5.5 inch screen! 9to5mac.com reports that the new king sized Apple hero phone will also be somewhat thicker, due to a reported larger camera sensor and larger lens. That tidbit comes by way of Macotakara. Both successors to the iPhone X will get horizontal Face ID unlock.

There is apparently a ‘secret conversation’ option hidden in Twitter’s Android app, that you could use to send encrypted direct messages. Techcrunch.com says the feature could keep users within Twitter instead of jumping over to Signal, Telegram, or WhatsApp for secure, private messages. Twitter had no comment about the feature, or if it would become available, but since it’s been coded and included, they could take it live, and hold on to those people needing secure private messaging, instead of losing those eyeballs to others.

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Lyft & Waymo Partner on Self-Drivers; EV Battery That Charges in 5 Min; 10.5 Inch iPad Pro at WWDC, Google Asst Coming to iOS

Lyft and Google’s Waymo will team up on self-driving cars, according to a report from the New York Times. The plan is to introduce a wide swath of people to them using fleet services. Waymo had already started a public pilot in Arizona where they will pick up people and families on demand. The Lyft deal will quickly help them to expand that, and explore not only demand modeling, but efficient routing as well. Meanwhile, a judge has banned a Uber employee, who was a former Google manager and is the subject of a lawsuit, from working with Lidar at all for the time being.

If this pans out to any degree, it will be a game changer for electric vehicles. StoreDot, and Israeli startup, has shown its new battery model for EVs at the CUBE Tech Fair in Berlin. Engadget.com reports that the battery can reach full charge in FIVE minutes, and run the car for 300 miles! Compare that to Tesla’s Supercharger, which takes two hours to fully charge a Tesla EV. StoreDot also claims their batteries are safer than litihum-ion. They use layers of nano materials and proprietary organic compounds not used in batteries before.

Apple will probably show a new 10.5 inch iPad Pro at WWDC next month. Theverge.com says KGI Securities, generally one of the most reliable sources, is reporting this. Ming-Chi Kuo, of KGI also says it’s 50-50 that Apple will launch their Siri powered speaker at WWDC.

Siri could be in for some ‘Siri-ous’ competition soon. Google may be rolling out Google Assistant on iOS, and could show it at I/O this week! It will debut first in the US, and apparently will be slightly different than the Android version. The voice controls will be the same, but it will used the chat style fro Allo. This is probably necessary since it will be a free standing app, and not a baked in extension that’s part of the Google platform.


Google I/O Opening Day Highlights

In the keynote at Google I/O, they rolled out Google Assistant, which supports ‘conversational understanding’ and should give users more natural and better support of voice searches. In addition, bgr.com reports that Google showed off their answer to Amazon Echo, Google Home, a little always on speaker that will be out later this year. Home will find and start TV shows, call an Uber car, or book a restaurant, and a lot more for you with just a voice command.

Google’s new messaging app, Allo, also took a bow. One new feature is a whisper/shout feature that enlarges the text size if you want to ‘shout,’ instead of using all caps. It also interacts with a range of bots. As a bookend to Allo, Google showed off Duo, which is a video calling app. Duo has some clever new features like Knock Knock…which shows an incoming video call feed before you decide to pick up. It also switches seamlessly from cell to Wi-Fi connection.

Android N was previewed, and will be out later this year, emphasizing performance and graphics. It will also use file based encryption instead of block -based. You can download the beta to N now.

Daydream is the new VR platform that is aimed at standardizing mobile based VR. This includes both hardware and software, and Google is expected to start selling a VR headset and controller by late summer. They are also making a reference design for other suppliers to make VR headsets using their system.

Android Wear 2.0 bowed, and the big news there is it can function independently of a smartphone.

Last, and definitely not least, Google showed what may be the biggest deal since the App Store…Instant Apps. With Instant Apps, you can start using an app immediately right within the Google Play store without even having to download and install it.


Uber Settlement Keeps Drivers as Contractors; Google I/O Highlights Virtual Reality

Uber has settled a couple class action suits in California and Massachusetts that will eventually play out 100 million to drivers, but keeps them classified as independent contractors, and not employees. Cnet.com says it will also set up a ‘driver association’ to address driver concerns, and a key point is that Uber won’t be able to terminate drivers at will, and they will have to establish appeals panels for those who feel they have been terminated unfairly. Drivers will also be able to post signs to ask for tips. Lyft has already allowed for driver tipping. They also won’t be allowed to terminate drivers for turning down rides when logged in, which was considered a key issue in considering drivers as employees.

Google I/O is a month away, and much of the schedule has been posted. According to arstechnica.com, a large swath of time will be dedicated to virtual reality talks. VR is an entire content track at I/O this year, with 7 sessions dedicated to virtual or augmented reality…including one called ‘Google’s Vision for VR.’ The keynote for this year’s Google I/O is May 18th at 10am Pacific.


Did Google Just Win the Cloud Wars?

According to bgr.com, Google may have won the cloud wars, with the announcement at I/O yesterday that their Photos app will allow for unlimited photos and videos in the cloud for FREE! By comparison, Apple gives you 5 Gigs of free storage on iCloud, then hits users with a buck a month for 20 gigs or $20 a month for a terabyte. If you have a large collection, and switched from Apple to Google, you’d save $240 a year. Google photos runs on Android, iOS, or the web, and syncs across all your devices.

Although that was just one of the things rolled out at Google I/O that caused gnashing of teeth at Apple, they should be smiling about this: Appleinsider.com says Consumer Reports ranked Apple highest for computer tech support in their annual survey. According to Consumer Reports, 4 out of 5 Mac owners using AppleCare said the service was able to solve their problem, compared to 61% for Dell and Lenovo. They were ranked pretty much even with indy stores for retail support, although Best Buy’s Geek Squad and Staples EasyTech both charge, and Apple’s geniuses will diagnose problems for free.


The Next Version of Android

Google is getting ready to unveil the latest version of Android…Android M. 9to5google.com says so-called ‘Macadamia Nut Cookie’ will bring improvements to battery life and RAM performance. No, they won’t be calling it by that mouthful of a code name upon rollout…it will likely be called Marshmallow for the public. We should get a preview Thursday at Google I/O, with the final release of the latest, greatest Android version slated for August.

An amazing number of people will be online by the end of the year. According to a report from the International Telecommunications Union picked up by thenextweb.com, that number would be 3.2 billion people. Out of those, 2 billion are from developing countries. There will be a mind-numbing 7 billion active cellular connections…nearly equaling the population of the entire planet!


Google Prepares to Enter the Internet of Things OS Sweepstakes

Google reportedly may unveil an internet of things OS at their I/O conference next week. According to a report in The Information picked up by theverge.com, it runs on low power devices, and gives them the ability to communicate with other connected devices in proximity. The OS has had the code name ‘Brillo,’ but will likely carry an Android name when it’s rolled out. It’s expected to work on everything from refrigerators to small monitoring gadgets. The biggest issue with the internet of things may well end up being which OS to go with, since Google, Apple, Microsoft, Huawei, Samsung, and others are all angling to be in this market!

Microsoft is quietly working on an app that will at as a clipboard across your devices, whether iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or Windows PC. Thenextweb.com points out that this would compete with the Pushbullet app in many ways. Microsoft’s OneClip auto detects if the item on the clipboard is a URL, physical address, phone number, text snippet, or image, and categorizes it for you.