Google I/O is a huge conference. So huge, that you may not have had time to keep up. But we have your back. Here are the highlights of Google I/O 2015!

Big Ideas

Every year technology moves forward, and Google is on the cutting edge. These are the biggest trends we noticed for 2015.

  • Internet of Things – What is this? It’s everything, connected. Your dishwasher, connected. The lights, connected. The whole farm, connected. Google announced Brillo & Weave, an operating system and communications platform, based on Android to allow devices to communicate securely and seamlessly. This allows manufacturers to focus on their hardware, rather than needing to build a whole device OS.
  • Evolving Computing Platforms – Computers are constantly getting more powerful, and Google is harnessing that power to create what they are calling neural networks – systems that behave similar to a human brain, allowing the network to be self-teaching, more efficient, and much better at contextual computing. In fact, Google is already utilizing this technology to power their new Photos app!
  • Reaching the next billion – In developing countries, the most common device for accessing the internet is a mobile phone. Google is working hard to optimize their services and offerings for developing markets in order to create a better experience for first time users. This includes lowering the data needed for each app, allowing offline modes for spotty connections, and making services available in more countries.

Big Announcements

Here are the new products Google will start rolling out over the next year.

  • Android M – The new version of Android doesn’t have an official name yet, but Google showed off some of it’s features during the keynote. On the security side Android M features granular security and privacy controls for apps, fingerprint reader support, and a feature that allows apps to direct you to a customized Chrome page rather than an in-app browser. Features wise, Android M has a few tricks up its sleeve with improved volume controls, better power management that uses sensor data to determine when it can put the device into a deeper sleep state which Google calls Doze, and a process called app-linking whereby an app can verify itself in order to eliminate the dialogue that asks which app the user would like to use for certain actions.
  • Google Photos – Google Photos is a much improved storage solution, offering unlimited storage for images up to 16MP and videos up to 1080p, as well as advanced search, facial recognition, and compression. This search and facial recognition leverages Google’s neural network computing to recognize elements of an image. It works really well, although it isn’t foolproof. For example, when searching for snow, I got plenty of pictures of snow, snowy days, and snow flakes, but it also displayed a picture of my dog, which, although white and fluffy, isn’t quite right.
  • Android Pay – Poised to be the successor to Google Wallet, and a direct competitor to Apple Pay, Android Pay uses NFC to communicate payment data with a sales terminal, along with a few handy security features. For identification, Google is allowing authentication by fingerprint, as well as creating a virtual account that hides your actual payment information from retailers. This means data breaches will no longer force you to get a new card or worry, because your data is still safe.
  • Project Brillo & Weave – This project, while coming near the end of the year, is Google’s first foray into the internet of things. Brillo is a bare bones type of Android, requiring little in the way of hardware, but powerful enough to connect devices. Weave is similar, but is only the communications protocol that will allow devices to network and communicate. Brillo uses Weave for communication, but manufacturers can still use Weave for communication if they decide to create their own software to run their device.
  • Google Now – One of the most fascinating, and potentially most intrusive, features of Google has been Google Now. Now’s reach has expanded as it is being updated for contextual awareness. If you’re listening to Skrillex, and say “Okay Google, who is he?” Google Now will return results answering who Skrillex is, even though “he” was never specified. Similarly, if you’re checking out the menu of a local restaurant and want to see a picture of a dish you’ve never heard of, Google Now will understand what you’re talking about even if you butcher the pronunciation.

Cool Innovations

These projects might not go mainstream soon, but they’re pretty awesome!

  • Project Loon – Although Google’s stratospheric balloon powered internet might seem like a lark, it’s been hugely successful! The balloons stay aloft for 100 days, an advanced traffic control solution has been developed, data speeds are around 10Mbps, and remote communities are being connected!
  • Project Soli – Google’s ATAP (Advanced Technologies and Projects) has been working to improve the way we interact with devices. One approach they developed is a hand-sensing radar that can fit into wearables, allowing interaction with a device through hand and finger movements. The radar is precise enough to even measure tiny hand movements such as rubbing fingers together.
  • Project Jacquard – Another project geared toward expanding how we interact with devices, Project Jacquard puts a touch sensitive surface onto clothing. Rather than being a novelty product, the ATAP team worked with the clothing and fashion industry to create a seamless product that can be produced at scale without disrupting how the industry works. The team even demoed a blazer created by a tailor in London, using fabric produced in Japan, containing a touch panel woven into fabric of the blazer to answer a call by swiping toward the wearer’s hand.

What are you most excited about?