Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) has been busy. While divisions like Google X tinker away at some of society’s biggest challenges, other Googlers build, refine and grow the company’s core products.
Each year at the annual Google I/O conference the company releases new products, announces new versions of existing products and updates the world on just about all things Google. Though the conference is held for software developers who use Google’s platforms, many investors and tech fans look to the Google I/O conference as a sneak peek into what’s coming from one of the world’s great technology companies.
This year’s conference was no disappointment. Here are five announcements from Google I/O 2015 that matter for investors:
Chrome Hits 1 Billion Mark
Google announced that Chrome, its free Web browser, now has over 1 billion users. Google announced last year that its Android mobile operating system had surpassed the 1 billion user mark.
This is a great sign for the company as the world shifts towards mobile. With a dominant Web browser and a dominant operating system accompanying its iconic search engine, Google is well prepared to defend its lofty market position.
Android Pay is Google’s response to Apple Pay, the hugely successful mobile payments system launched by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) late last year.
This isn’t Google’s first mobile payments system. In fact, Android Pay looks and functions a lot like its predecessor, Google Wallet. Indeed, both run on the same near field communication (NFC) technology that also powers Apple Pay.
Tech journalists who attended I/O were able to demo Android Pay and see it in action. Reports indicate that it is essentially a more convenient and intuitive version of Google Wallet. Gizmodo reports that Google will keep Google Wallet around as a peer-to-peer payments network and grow Android Pay’s tap-to-pay system to compete with Apple Pay.
Google announced a partnership with wearable camera pioneer GoPro (NASDAQ: GPRO) to produce and distribute virtual reality content. A new kind of virtual reality camera, pictured below, was announced onstage at Google I/O. The camera, which is really a collection of 16 GoPro cameras arranged in a circle and facing outward, also stitches the 16 individual feeds together to produce a seamless stereoscopic video.
Image Credit: James Martin/CNET
GoPro stock shot up nearly 7% on the news.
Google also announced that its YouTube video-sharing website will begin supporting these videos beginning this summer, meaning that people will able to produce virtual reality content and put it on YouTube for people to watch for free.
We’ve long known of Google’s interest in the Internet of Things, the idea of connecting just about everything to the Internet to automate and harness data. Google bought Nest Labs, perhaps best known for its smart thermostat. Then Nest Labs bought Dropcam, known for its Internet-connected cameras.
Now Google has announced Weave, a programming language for software developers to use when writing programs for Brillo, Google’s operating system designed to run minimally complicated smart device hardware. Consider that you might use Brillo to run a program – developed using the Weave coding language – to check on your house throughout the day with the Dropcam cameras you set up.
Google on Tap
Google on Tap is a more advanced version of Google Now which incorporates Google’s advances in the realm of artificial intelligence. Google on Tap features speech recognition that according to reports is incredibly accurate. But what makes Google on Tap even more incredible is that as it learns your patterns and behavior, it will begin to anticipate your needs.
Google on Tap will most likely work its way into Android as a personal assistant in the very near future.
“Google is way out in front of everybody,” Van Baker of technology research firm Gartner told Business Insider. Baker noted that Google on Tap is far more advanced than Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) speech recognition offerings.
We will definitely be talking about the announcements from Google I/O 2015 for months and even years to come. Virtual reality content on YouTube is a major milestone, as is Chrome’s adoption by 1 billion users. Though Google Wallet has been around for a while, I think the frenzy over Apple Pay will make its redesigned successor, Android Pay, a successful alternative to Apple’s mobile payments system.
DISCLOSURE: I personally own shares of Apple.
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