8 things you might have missed at I/O
There might not have been any fancy new hardware reveals at Google I/O 2017, but there was still plenty to talk about. From Google Lens to hands-free Home phone calls to Photos’ new sharing prowess, Google set the stage for an exciting year of connected, integrated, and just plain smart products. But amid all the big announcements, there were a couple of small ones you might have missed. Submitted for your approval...
Google Home has a screen
Google took some of the thunder out of Amazon’s upcoming Echo Show with Home-to-Home calling, but the real killer feature might be its ability to broadcast images and info to a nearby screen. Whether it’s to your phone on the table or to the giant TV in your living room, Google Home can now deliver visual responses to your queries, and it didn’t take a bulky new design to do it.
The Galaxy S8 will support Daydream
Google’s Daydream virtual reality support is currently limited to just a handful of phones: the Pixel, Moto Z, Mate 9 Pro, and Axon 7. That cuts out a pretty large portion of the market from using a Daydream View VR headset. But that’s about to change in a big way: Google announced at I/O that the Galaxy S8 will be deemed Daydream ready soon, giving Samsung users another option for VR—though it’ll be hard to top the Oculus-powered Gear VR.
Instant apps have arrived
At last year’s I/O, Google announced Instant Apps, native versions of Play Store apps that could be used without downloading or installing anything. But until now only a handful were available in limited testing. Now Google is opening it up to all developers, and some 50 of them have already started to roll them out, including Dashlane, The Weather Channel, and Ticketmaster.
No more blob emoji
For years, Android users have had a difference set of emoji than everyone else. Instead of circular faces, we got charming (or unsightly, depending on your tastes) blobs that may or may not have communicated the right emotion to your iPhone friends. In Android O, Google has changed the emoji to better match up with the rest of the world. So pour one out for the blobs.
Create reminders and appointments on Google Home
We don’t know why they weren’t there from the start, but Google is finally letting us set reminders and calendar entries on Google Home. They’ll sync with our accounts, ensuring we get proper alerts everywhere. It’s about time.
More Android Wear complications are coming
Android Wear 2.0 has only recently begun arriving on watches new and old, so it’s not surprising that Google didn’t give us a preview of Android Wear 3.0. But one version 2.0 feature is getting an upgrade: A new set of tools will make it easier for developers to build complications for watch faces, which should expand on the small library we have now.
VR Chrome is coming
Daydream has built up its library of supported apps since its debut in the fall, but one of its biggest shortcomings has been the lack of a browser. Google will correct that in an upcoming update, allowing Daydream View users to view WebVR content and browse their favorite sites in all their glory.
Rock out with Google Home
Spotify support has been on Google Home since day one, but there was a catch: You had to have a premium account. Now you don’t. Just link your free Spotify account and Google Home will play your tunes just as if you were a paying customer. And if you want to play something from a source that isn’t Google Home-ready, Bluetooth support will now let you stream anything to your Google Home speaker.