Google Now on Tap is a feature for Android phones that lets you get quick information about what you’re doing without leaving your app, simply by holding the Home button. Laurence catches up with Paige Dunn-Rankin a product manager for Now on Tap to discuss this great technology.
It builds upon what Google Now has already done -- but making it much more personal, based on what’s on your screen right now.
She demonstrates a chat session with a friend, where from the context of their conversation, Now on Tap can figure out the landing time for the flight he’s on, the location and reviews of the restaurant they want to attend, and even integrate neatly with calendar to create a calendar event. She also shows me how natural language processing does this -- in the conversation they didn’t talk about a calendar, just about having dinner, but Now on Tap figured out the correct time and date for them. For example, when watching a YouTube video, you can hold the Home button to launch Now on Tap and it will give you related content and events!
Now on Tap works on top of most apps with no changes needed. If you want to make sure that Now on Tap works seamlessly on top of your app, make sure to check out "Optimizing Content for the Assistant" here. To make your app show up in Now on Tap links, use App Indexing.
Today at Google I/O, we announced a developer preview of the next version of Android, the M release. Last year’s developer preview was a first for Android and we received great feedback. We want to continue to give you developers early access to Android so you have time to get your apps ready for the next version of Android. This time with the M Developer Preview, we will provide a clear timeline for testing and feedback plus more updates to the preview build.
For the M release, we focused on improving the core user experience of Android, from fixing thousands of bugs, to making some big changes to the fundamentals of the platform:
Permissions - We are giving users control of app permissions in the M release. Apps can trigger requests for permissions at runtime, in the right context, and users can choose whether to grant the permission. Making permission requests right when they’re needed means users can get up and running in your app faster. Also, users have easy access to manage all their app permissions in settings. On M, as a developer, you should design your app to prompt for permissions in context and account for permissions that don’t get granted. As more devices upgrade to M, app permission behavior will be a critical development flow to test.
Runtime App Permissions
App links - We are making it even easier to link between apps. Android has always allowed apps to register to natively handle URLs. Now you can add an autoVerify attribute to your app manifest so that users can be linked deep into your native app without any disambiguation prompt. App links, along with App Indexing for Google search, make it easier for users to discover and re-engage with your app.
Battery - We’re making Android devices smarter about managing power through a new feature called Doze. With M, Android uses significant motion detection to learn if a device has been left unattended for a while. In this state, Android will exponentially back off background activity, trading off a little bit of app freshness for longer battery life. Consider how this may affect your app; for instance, if you’re building a chat app, you may want to make use of high priority messages to wake your app when the device is dozing.
The Android M release: advancing assistance and payments
We are also delighted to announce a couple of big new features:
Now on tap - We are making it even easier for Android users to get assistance with Now on tap -- whenever they need it, wherever they are on their device. For example, if your friend texts you about dinner at a new restaurant, without leaving the app, you can ask Google Now for help. Using just that context, Google can find menus, reviews, help you book a table, navigate there, and deep link you into relevant apps. As a developer, you can implement App Indexing for Google search to let users discover and re-engage with your app through Now on tap.
Now on tap
Android Pay & Fingerprint - We’ve built on our work with Near Field Communications (NFC) in Gingerbread and Host Card Emulation in Kitkat to develop Android Pay. Android Pay will enable Android users to simply and securely use their Android phone to pay in stores or in thousands of Android Pay partner apps. With M, native fingerprint support enhances Android Pay by allowing users to confirm a purchase with their fingerprint. Moreover, fingerprint on M can be used to unlock devices and make purchases on Google Play. With new APIs in M, it’s easy for you to add fingerprint authorization to your app and have it work consistently across a range of devices and sensors.
These are just a few highlights from the M Developer Preview that we announced today. The M preview will be available for download right after the keynote.
Android Developer Tools
In addition to the developer preview, we are launching new tools to help you in the development of your Android App:
Android Studio v1.3 Preview - To help take advantage of the M Developer Preview features, we are releasing a new version of Android Studio. Most notable is a much requested feature from our Android NDK & game developers: code editing and debugging for C/C++ code. Based on JetBrains Clion platform, the Android Studio NDK plugin provides features such as refactoring and code completion for C/C++ code alongside your Java code. Java and C/C++ code support is integrated into one development experience free of charge for Android app developers. Update to Android Studio v1.3 via the Canary channel and let us know what you think.
Android Studio 1.3 with Android NDK Support
Android Design Support Library - Making Material design apps gets even easier with the new Android Design support library. We have packaged a set a key design components (e.g floating action button, snackbar, navigation view, motion enabled Toolbars) that are backward compatible to API 7 and can be added to your app to create a modern, great looking Android app without building everything from scratch.
Google Play Services - Today we also are releasing v7.5 of Google Play services which includes new features ranging from Smart Lock for Passwords, new APIs for Google Cloud Messaging and Google Cast, to Google Maps API on Android Wear devices.
The M Developer Preview includes an updated SDK with tools, system images for testing on the official Android emulator, and system images for testing on Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player devices. We are excited to expand the program and give you more time to ensure your apps support M when it launches this fall. Based on your feedback, we plan to update the M Developer preview system images often during the developer preview program. The sooner we hear from you, the more feedback we can integrate, so let us know!
To get started with the M Developer Preview and prepare your apps for the full release, just follow these steps:
You’ve invested time and effort into making your app an awesome experience, and we want to help people find the great content you’ve created. App Indexing has already been helping people engage with your Android app after they’ve installed it — we now have 30 billion links within apps indexed. Starting this week, people searching on Google can also discover your app if they haven’t installed it yet. If you’ve implemented App Indexing, when indexed content from your app is relevant to a search done on Google on Android devices, people may start to see app install buttons for your app in search results. Tapping these buttons will take them to the Google Play store where they can install your app, then continue straight on to the right content within it.
With the addition of these install links, we are starting to use App Indexing as a ranking signal for all users on Android, regardless of whether they have your app installed or not. We hope that Search will now help you acquire new users, as well as re-engage your existing ones. To get started, visit g.co/AppIndexing and to learn more about the other ways you can integrate with Google Search, visit g.co/DeveloperSearch.
Today, we’re bringing you new tools to build better apps with the rollout of Google Play services 7.0. With this release, we’re delivering improvements to location settings experiences, a brand new API for place information, new fitness data, automatic integration of AdMob and Google Analytics, Google Play Games, and more.
Location Settings Dialog
While the FusedLocationProviderApi combines multiple sensors to give you the optimal location, the accuracy of the location your app receives still depends greatly on what settings are enabled on the device (e.g. GPS, wifi, airplane mode, etc). In Google Play services 7.0, we’re introducing a standard mechanism to check that the necessary location settings are enabled for a given LocationRequest to succeed. If there are possible improvements, you can display a one touch control for the user to change their settings without leaving your app.
This API provides a great opportunity to make for a much better user experience, particularly if location information is critical to the user experience of your app such as was the case with Google Maps when they integrated the Location Settings dialog and saw a dramatic increase in the number of users in a good location state.
Location can be so much more than a latitude and longitude: the new Places API makes it easy to get details from Google’s database of places and businesses. The built-in place picker makes it easy for the user to pick their current place and provides all the relevant place details including name, address, phone number, website, and more.
If you prefer to provide your own UI, the getCurrentPlace() API returns places directly around the user’s current location. Autocomplete predictions are also provided to allow a low latency search experience directly within your app.
You can also manually add places with the addPlace() API and report that the user is at a particular place, ensuring that even the most explorative users can input and share their favorite new places.
The Places API will also be available cross-platform: in a few days, you’ll be able to apply for the Places API for iOS beta program to ensure a great and consistent user experience across mobile platforms.
Google Fit makes building fitness apps easier with fitness specific APIs on retrieving sensor data like current location and speed, collecting and storing activity data in Google Fit’s open platform, and automatically aggregating that data into a single view of the user’s fitness data.
In Google Play services 7.0, the previous Fitness.API that you passed into your GoogleApiClient has now been replaced with a number of APIs, matching the high level set of Google Fit Android APIs:
SENSORS_API to access raw sensor data via SensorsApi
BLE_API to interact with Bluetooth Low Energy devices via BleApi
CONFIG_API to access custom data types and settings for Google Fit via ConfigApi
This change significantly reduces the memory requirement for Google Fit enabled apps running in the background. Like always, apps built on previous versions of Google Play services will continue to work, but we strongly suggest you rebuild your Google Fit enabled apps to take advantage of this change.
Having all the data can be an empowering part of making meaningful changes and Google Fit is augmenting their existing data types with the addition of body fat percentage and sleep data.
Google Mobile Ads
We’ve found integration of AdMob and Google Analytics a powerful combination for analyzing how your users really use your app since we launched Google Analytics in AdMob last year. This new release enables any Google Mobile Ads SDK implementation to automatically get Google Analytics integration giving you the number of users and sessions, session duration, operating systems, device models, geography, and automatic screen reporting without any additional development work.
In addition, we’ve made numerous improvements across the SDK including ad request prefetching (saving battery usage and improving apparent latency) and making the SDK MRAIDv2 compliant.
Google Play Games
Announced at Game Developers Conference (GDC), we’re offering new tools to supercharge your games on Google Play. Included in Google Play services 7.0 is the Nearby Connections API, allowing games to seamlessly connect smartphones and tablets as second-screen controls to the game running on your TV.
App Indexing lets Google index apps just like websites, enabling Google search results to deep-link directly into your native app. We've simplified the App Indexing API to make this integration even easier for you by combining the existing view()/viewEnd() and action()/end() flows into a single start() and end() API.
Changes to GoogleApiClient
GoogleApiClient serves as the common entry point for accessing Google APIs. For this release, we’ve made retrieval of Google OAuth 2.0 tokens part of GoogleApiClient, making it much easier to request server auth codes to access Google APIs.
SDK Coming Soon!
We will be rolling out Google Play services 7.0 over the next few days. Expect an update to this blog post, published documentation, and the availability of the SDK once the rollout is completed.
Google Play services 5.0 is now rolled out to devices worldwide, and it includes a number of features you can use to improve your apps. This release introduces Android wearable services APIs, Dynamic Security Provider and App Indexing, whilst also including updates to the Google Play game services, Cast, Drive, Wallet, Analytics, and Mobile Ads.
Android wearable services
Google Play services 5.0 introduces a set of APIs that make it easier to communicate with your apps running on Android wearables. The APIs provide an automatically synchronized, persistent data store and a low-latency messaging interface that let you sync data, exchange control messages, and transfer assets.
Dynamic security provider
Provides an API that apps can use to easily install a dynamic security provider. The dynamic security provider includes a replacement for the platform's secure networking APIs, which can be updated frequently for rapid delivery of security patches. The current version includes fixes for recent issues identified in OpenSSL.
Google Play game services
Quests are a new set of APIs to run time-based goals for players, and reward them without needing to update the game. To do this, you can send game activity data to the Quests service whenever a player successfully wins a level, kills an alien, or saves a rare black sheep, for example. This tells Quests what’s going on in the game, and you can use that game activity to create new Quests. By running Quests on a regular basis, you can create an unlimited number of new player experiences to drive re-engagement and retention.
Saved games lets you store a player's game progress to the cloud for use across many screen, using a new saved game snapshot API. Along with game progress, you can store a cover image, description and time-played. Players never play level 1 again when they have their progress stored with Google, and they can see where they left off when you attach a cover image and description. Adding cover images and descriptions provides additional context on the player’s progress and helps drive re-engagement through the Play Games app.
App Indexing API
The App Indexing API provides a way for you to notify Google about deep links in your native mobile applications and drive additional user engagement. Integrating with the App Indexing API allows the Google Search app to serve up your app’s history to users as
instant Search suggestions, providing fast and easy access to inner pages in your app. The deep links reported using the App Indexing API are also used by Google to index your app’s content and surface them as deep links to Google search result.
The Google Cast SDK now includes media tracks that introduce closed caption support for Chromecast.
The Google Drive API adds the ability to sort query results, create folders offline, and select any mime type in the file picker by default.
Wallet objects from Google take physical objects (like loyalty cards, offers) from your wallet and store them in the cloud. In this release, Wallet adds "Save to Wallet" button support for offers. When a user clicks "Save to Wallet" the offer gets saved and shows up in the user's Google Wallet app. Geo-fenced in-store notifications prompt the user to show and scan digital cards at point-of-sale, driving higher redemption. This also frees the user from having to carry around offers and loyalty cards.
Users can also now use their Google Wallet Balance to pay for Instant Buy transactions by providing split tender support. With split tender, if your Wallet Balance is not sufficient, the payment is split between your Wallet Balance and a credit/debit card in your Google Wallet.
Enhanced Ecommerce provides visibility into the full customer journey, adding the ability to measure product impressions, product clicks, viewing product details, adding a product to a shopping cart, initiating the checkout process, internal promotions, transactions, and refunds. Together they help users gain deeper insights into the performance of their business, including how far users progress through the shopping funnel and where they are abandoning in the purchase process. Enhanced Ecommerce also allows users to analyze the effectiveness of their marketing and merchandising efforts, including the impact of internal promotions, coupons, and affiliate marketing programs.
Google Mobile Ads are a great way to monetise your apps and you now have access to better in-app purchase ads. We've now added a default implementation for consumable purchases using the Google Play In-app Billing service.
And that’s another release of Google Play services. The updated Google Play services SDK is now available through the Android SDK manager. For details on the APIs, please see New Features in Google Play services 5.0.