It's been a while since we last heard anything about Project Soli - Google's radical post-touch experiment unveiled at I/O - but it looks like the project is still rolling right along. According to a tipster, Google has begun notifying interested parties of an impending "Soli Alpha DevKit," asking that those notified fill out an application for the chance to receive one.
Google says it's looking for pretty much everything when it comes to possible applications - health, art, interactive installations, robotics, HCI, VR, and more are all specifically called out as fair game in Google's email.
The email says that those selected to receive a DevKit will get a development board and SDK, along with the opportunity to participate in a Soli Alpha developer workshop at some point in the future.
Google's I/O conference app is generally considered a boon for developers. Each year the app is open-sourced following the conference, exposing the code beneath Google's latest design suggestions and functionality on Android.
This year, however, Google is offering up another open-source goodie. In a post to Google+, Google Developers announced that this year the source of the I/O web app will be released for inspection. In fact, the ioweb2015 project is already available on Github.
The dazzlingly-designed web app is mobile-first and offline enabled, and comes with a long list of impressive functionality. A few features Google chose to specify include "Polymer, material design, web components, service worker, push notifications, google sign-in 2.0, add to homescreen, and web animations APIs."
Knowing that, it's clear that the site is well-rounded from functionality, design, and UX standpoints, so the source undoubtedly holds some treasures for intrepid developers.
We have already posted a pretty thorough preview of the features coming with the new Google Photos app, but that doesn't mean Google didn't save a couple of surprises for IO. The big bombshell is that, starting later today, users will be able to upload an unlimited number of photos and videos for free. If you weren't using Google as your primary source for photo archiving, this news may give you reason to reconsider.
Your pictures and videos won't be compressed into oblivion either, they will be stored at up to 16MP for images and 1080p for video.
Besides new family-friendly and kid-friendly efforts on search and discovery in the Play Store, Google announced during its keynote today that Play Store search will be getting smarter overall.
Specifically, Google wants to more effectively surface apps when users search for vague or topical queries. The example given in the screenshot above shows the user searching for "shopping" apps. The Play Store then returns, of course, shopping apps. But those apps are then categorized intelligently into different sub-genres like Fashion and Coupons.
This may seem like a small tweak to most users, but - if Google is right - it will help introduce users to the right app when the user is not sure exactly what they're looking for, which is a good step in helping along discoverability in the Play Store as a whole.
We've all seen, probably many times, the common situation where you click a link on your Android device and you are then asked with which app you would like to open it. On one hand, this is a great feature; merely guessing could be very annoying and it is a sensible way to allow users to assign default apps. Sometimes, though, certain types of links should always open in a particular app without prompting the user.
A new addition to Android M, as discussed at I/O today, will allow that to happen. Developers can add an "autoVerify" attribute to their app manifest to tell the operating system that there is no need to prompt the user for certain types of links.
When it comes to getting users to your app, your Play Store listing counts for a lot. What users see (and read) when they reach your app's listing can make or break their decision to download or buy, so carefully crafting a good listing is important.
To that end, Google has announced that it will open up what amounts to A/B testing for Play Store listings, meaning developers can play with their listings by testing different screenshots, graphics, etc. to see what performs better and end up with the best possible listing.
To facilitate this, Google will add "Listing Experiments" to the Play Store developer console.
While we've been following this rumor for months now, Google made Android Pay official during today's keynote. We first heard the name back in February, and knew something was coming ever since they acquired the intellectual property of mobile payment competitor Isis, an agreement that would also make Wallet a pre-installed app on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon phones. Though it was announced as part of Android M, it will work on KitKat and newer versions.
Functions new to Android Pay include the ability to tap to pay within apps. For apps that use the Pay API, you will only have to click "Buy with Android Pay" and leave the arduous typing of numbers and addresses to the automated system.
As we all know, Google I/O is right around the corner. So far this year, we haven't seen too many early clues as to what Google will cover in its keynote (though Ars Technica's I/O tracker is a great place to get some ideas) outside of its new Photos app, but we do expect that Google will be telling us about Android M (internally called macadamia nut cookie or MNC).
The specifics of what Android M will bring to the table are still a mystery, but we've heard a few things that could make this an exciting update.