It has been almost a month since Google Play services 7.8 began rolling out to users, and as of yesterday, it is in wide release to everybody. A previous blog post by Google discussed the big new feature for developers would be the Nearby Messages API, but it turns out there are a couple of other additions worth checking out. In a new post on the Android Developers blog, Google announced a new Mobile Vision API with the ability to detect the presence, orientation, and some details of faces when they are in frame on an active camera.
Google's Niantic Labs is perhaps best known as the developer of the popular augmented reality game Ingress (it also makes the exploration app Field Trip). In the wake of the Alphabet announcement, Niantic is leaving Google behind, but not in the way you think. Google is spinning off the developer completely, turning it into an independent company.
Android offers developers a great deal of freedom to experiment with apps and come up with (maybe) the next big thing. Now Google has launched a website where it plans to show off some of the most interesting projects on Android. It's called Android Experiments and there are already 20 apps and demos to check out.
After a controversial edit or two appeared in Map Maker alongside an uptick in spam, Google decided to halt user submissions while it figured out a way to deal with things. Now the company is starting to open Map Maker back up to users. It's doing so gradually. The first phase announced includes the countries of Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, India, Philippines, and Ukraine.
Previously Google automatically approved most submissions. A Googler would then review edits manually, especially if community members brought something to the company's attention. The hope was that users would police themselves.
Rather than develop new systems or allocate more employees, Google is increasing its reliance on the community to solve the problem.
Google co-founder and CEO (or should I say former CEO?) Larry Page just dropped a real bombshell. He and fellow Google founder Sergey Brin have started a new company called Alphabet, an umbrella for Google and other Googley companies. Along with this change, Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai has been appointed as the CEO of a new, more streamlined Google.
According to a report from 9to5Google, an affiliate program for the Play Store is in the works that would allow individuals and companies to earn money by directing people to content in Google's ecosystem. This would start with music and movies, but could expand to cover just about everything that Google sells.
Google's Deep Dream program is a method for computers to analyze and recognize images with an artificial neural network. When visualized, its effects range from strangely appealing to completely terrifying (at least to our boring human eyes). Google showed off a visual version of some of its processing tools last month, then opened up the source code for developers. At least one or two of them probably got really excited and incorporated the code into new and interesting projects. The rest proceeded to use Deep Dream to turn Gawker and Buzzfeed into an extended LSD trip for about a week.
Yesterday, we took a look at the YouTube Gaming app (at least the creator preview). Navigating through the app, users will see several elements obviously informed by YouTube's existing design - the video player can be minimized and dismissed, the navigation model relies entirely on tabs, and getting users to discover more content is the name of the game. But the app branches off from YouTube's design and UX - and the design of all of Google's Android apps - in some really remarkable and unique ways.
For that reason, I thought it may be fun to take a closer look at the design of YouTube Gaming (Creator Preview).
A couple of months back, rumors that Google was working on a gamer-focused video streaming service first appeared. And so we waited. Now that the appropriately named YouTube Gaming is finally here, it plans to go head to head with Twitch.tv - easily the most popular such service in the world. Google has a tremendous amount of experience in the video streaming space in the form of YouTube, but it has never offered anything that was geared toward gamers. YouTube Gaming is hailed as the brand-new service that aims to fill that gap.
Currently, YouTube Gaming is only available as a beta program.