Google Annual Showcase: Virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and Android Pay

GOOGLE announced a draft of updates, changes, and new introductions to their latest products and innovations at their annual conference in California. The multinational tech giant focused on virtual reality and artificial intelligence during the showcase, and also announced a few new developments for their operating system, Android, which will affect its 1.4 billion users.


Google’s Android Pay – its rival being Apple Pay – just launched in the U.K. yesterday, having previously been an exclusive to the U.S.

It also plans to expand Android Pay to Singapore and Australia this year, . Apple Pay on the other hand is already in China, Canada, Australia and Singapore, with Hong Kong and Spain in the works.

The company will also be adding features to the Android operating system (O.S.) in a bid to outdo Apple’s current O.S.

Android users can expect better graphic and battery performances, and is also adopting a new security feature which allows users to encrypt specific files rather than the whole device.

As of October 2015, there were reportedly 1.4 billion Android smartphones being used worldwide. Over 125 million of those belong to users in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia making up most of that number, according to tech news website E27.

68.2 percent of the 380 million smartphone users in China use Google’s Android system, reports Statista.

Virtual reality

Google announced a new virtual reality platform called Daydream, which will be included in its upcoming Android N O.S. this fall.

The platform is a more developed version of the company’s Cardboard innovation which was released two years ago. It will give users a a more comfortable and immersive experience using a headset that a partner manufacturer will have ready in time for the update.

Designs for a new controller show it having a touchpad and sensors that can track which way it’s facing and where it’s pointing. A demonstration showed how it can be used to do a variety of actions such as flipping pancakes, throw things, cast a fishing line, and even pilot a dragon.

Artificial intelligence

A “smart home assistant” – similar to Amazon’s Echo device, which some have compared to the artificial digital entity Samantha from the film, ‘Her’ – that lets people manage menial tasks at home was one of Google’s big reveals at the conference.

Google Home, as it is imaginatively called, will allow users to control it by speaking as long as it is connected to the Internet.

Users can play music and podcasts, compile shopping and to-do lists, control lights and thermostat settings, and set alarms throughout their home.

Vice president of Google, Mario Quieroz, says the device will let users ask Google about “anything you want”.

Google plans to develop the device so people can control it from outside their home.

Additional reporting by Associated Press