There are numerous beneficial things that came out of this years Google I/O. Usually there is a large Android release; however, this year, as with last year, we were given a solid preview for developers. There was so much to cover, so for this particular write up I will focus on main “Top 5”.
Google Home, the voice assistant that we’ve all been waiting for (at least I have) is finally here to help us in our daily lives. Essentially the Google Home product is powered by Google Assistant, which is a beefed up, more conversational version of our beloved Google Now. To paint the picture more clearly, picture an Amazon Echo, with all the power and integration of Google. Scary right? Well, let’s dive a little deeper. When we speak of a conversational piece is is seriously good. From being able to order movie tickets and drill down to determine movies that are appropriate for kids, this thing simply does it all. Furthermore, it also integrates seamlessly with Google Cast — think of the possibilities with all of the other Google products and future products.
Allo is the newest messaging service from Google that is tied to your phone number, basically this is an open iMessage. With the ability to “whisper” and “shout” by dragging up or down on the send button, could this finally be the messenger from Google that we’ve all been waiting for? Although, this is a big deal and a huge potential win for Google, it also proves how far they are behind in the messaging space. We have iMessage, WhatsApp and others, why do we even need this? One important thing to note is that Google already has Hangouts and Messenger. So a chat and an Internet messenger. The question is quickly raised, what happens to these other products? (Especially Google Hangouts) Hangouts has ties to Google Voice, so the hundreds of thousands of Google Voice users are left wondering, once again, what is going to happen as we have seen other apps and services go down in flames in the years before.
Duo is the FaceTime equivalent from Google that is tied to your phone number. Incoming calls are presented to the receiver by a preview that automatically appears on the screen (this could be problematic). The new service also features end to end encryption, which is becoming more and more of a need in a digital age where privacy is getting muddier and muddier. Note that both Allo and Duo will be released for Android and iOS.
The Google Play Store is finally coming to Chrome OS! You’ve been waiting for it and so have I. This is probably the second biggest news behind Google Home, in my opinion. This will be rolled out slowly to to specific Chrome OS devices then hopefully progress to a larger device take up. The reason why this is a big deal is because picture the Chrome App Store, paltry at best, right? Google Play Store has millions and millions of apps, games, movies and more — this is a BIG deal.
Android Wear 2.0. When Google first unveiled Android Wear, it was simple, focused and intuitive — this time it adds a few minor tweaks and a kludgy keyboard — yes a keyboard, I don’t like it at all. Android Wear is the best choice for an Android user that wants to stop constantly taking out their smartphones for updates and receive them right on their wrists. Any update is a good update — except the keyboard, take that out, Google.
All in all, it was an excellent time for developers, contributors and technology enthusiasts alike. For the entire 2016 keynote, take a look below:
Bottom line: There are a lot of great things to look forward to from Google this year, just note that most things are coming in the Fall, so be on the lookout!
Android app permissions can be daunting and somewhat terrifying when you look at them. It can leave us wondering why does a calculator app need access to my microphone or contacts list. I hope that this post can put your mind at ease when installing a new app from the Play Store.
There is a legitimate reason that apps need access to certain hardware and list items of your device let’s break it down.
Why would an app need access to your:
- Some apps can push data directly to your SMS messages (eg. Inserting a link), without this functionality, it could make some apps far less useful.
- Perhaps you’d like to take a picture and push it straight into the app? Instagram, Hangouts and many other popular apps need this permission.
- Contact list?
- Apps can traverse through your contacts and see others that have that app installed and allow you to communicate with them. (eg. Snapchat). This will allow you to communicate with people that you know, just in a different way.
- Saving things to your device can be vital, this doesn’t mean that the app will read all of the contents of your ROM (if it did you’d know because it would be accessing it for some time).
- If the app uses data for any type of transfer (eg. Loading lists, pictures, sending items, etc) the app will need to use your mobile or Wi-fi data.
- In some cases you may want to export an event to your calendar. In the example above you notice that Facebook utilizes this.
- No, your phone is not listening to you all the time. But I bet you like dictating text messages instead of tapping away while driving. Or you like to be able to do voice conferences with video.
In conclusion, although we ask ourselves why does an app need so many permissions when they utilize them to the fullest and make the app just work. In the upcoming Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) release users will be able to restrict certain permissions so if you don’t want your text message app using your microphone, disable it. Just don’t expect to dictate a message until you turn it back on!
Apps need permissions and all apps are not out to get you, especially ones that are available in the Play Store. Stay safe and watch apks that are downloaded from untrusted sources — those could harm your device; however, when it is obtained from a safe source, the app will work as designed and use the permissions as needed.
Bottom line: Don’t freak out about this stuff, your apps need these permissions to work the way they do. Removing them will only hamper your experience.