Google Alphabet

Google, never happy with a slow new day, was able to create a brand new company with one press release that's so big that it actually owns Google itself.

Confused? You're not the only one, so let me try and break this down.

Earlier today, Larry Page issued a press release. He and Sergey Brin have always believed that Google could be more than a conventional company. They went from search, into video, maps, becoming an MVNO, and the world's largest mobile OS. But more recently, they started diving into different areas that would have more of a profound impact on us as a whole if successful. Projects like Loon, providing Internet via weather balloons, and Calico, a human life longevity program. Google began to stretch itself thin, and thus Alphabet was born.

Alphabet is a unique name (and ahead of Apple in the phone directory), but it works. In his Press release, Page said,

"We also like that it means alpha‑bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for! I should add that we are not intending for this to be a big consumer brand with related products—the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands."

So this effectively means that Alphabet is not a mere rebranding. You don't be using Alphabet Mail or Alphabet Maps anytime soon, since the whole point of Alphabet is to allow the subsidiary companies to run and develop themselves however they see fit. 

So, with Page and Brin effectively leaving the daily operations of Google's core products, who's in charge? That's where Sundar Pichai, the man behind the Android & Chrome teams, comes in. Pichai, over the last few months, has been overseeing the core operations of the newly slimmed down Google, focusing on continuing providing the best services through Gmail, Maps, YouTube etc. And while we don't exactly know which pieces of Google will land up in Alphabet's Alphabet of companies (such as Google Auto or Project Fi) we do know that Pichai will be leading a slimmed down, more focused Google.

So, here's the A-Z of Alphabet:

  • Alphabet (the main company)
  • B
  • Calico (focused on longevity)
  • Capital (investment)
  • D
  • E
  • Fiber
  • Google (now led by Sundar Pichai and includes search, ads, maps, apps, YouTube, and Android)
  • H
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • Life Sciences ("that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens")
  • M
  • Nest
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • Ventures (investment)
  • W
  • X lab ("which incubates new efforts like Wing, our drone delivery effort")
  • Y
  • Z
"We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant."

If you're wondering why Google is on that list, it's because Google is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet, and will be replaced by Alphabet Inc. as the publicly traded entity, however the two classes of shares that the company offers will continue to be traded as GOOG and GOOGL on Nasdaq.

While this move certainly caught Wall Street and the entire tech world by surprise (I woke up from a nap thinking I had slept straight through to April 1st, 2016), it formalizes a shift in Google that has been apparent for some time now. Both Brin and Page have been more focused on sections of Google like X Lab and Calico, and rightly so. It's the natural evolution of the two that brought us something like Google in the first place, and the natural progression for a man like Sundar Pichai, who ran the entire I/O 15 Keynote this year. While this seems like major news, and in a sense it is, we likely won't see the impact of this shift for years. Even then, the impact will likely have a minor impact on the core businesses and services that Google itself provides.

There's no real way to see how this will play out, but I think that with a slimmed down, more focused Google, Pichai will be able to achieve some incredible things, while Brin and Page can continue to work on their moonshot projects.

We won't have a full list available of Alphabet's subsidiaries until the Q4 financials have been filed. As of writing this, Alphabet has broken the cardinal rule if starting a new company: make sure you own the URL. Currently they own neither @alphabet not alphabet.com, but I suppose it's only a matter of time until they do.


You can read Larry Page's Alphabet press release here.

Google I/O 2015

Today was the eighth annual Google Conference, I/O. This is the day when Google unveils everything that it has been working towards over the past year, and typically, it features some really interesting improvements to existing services, as well as announcements of some new products.

This year was no different. During the nearly two hour long keynote, we saw several of Google's top execs and team leaders take to the stage to discuss several new things: The Android  M Developer Preview, Chrome, Android Pay, Android Wear, The Internet of Things, Google Now, Maps, Photos, and interestingly enough, Cardboard.

So, let's start breaking it down.

Android M Developer Preview

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Much like with the release of last year's Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google is keeping what name of it's next iteration of Android under wraps. Going by the internal code of Macadamia Nut Cookie, M is also following it's predecessor L in that there will be a Developer Preview, so that devs can get used to all of the new changes in the updated operating system.

What Google focused on during the keynote was an updated permissions, giving you more granular controls, Chrome, Android Pay, and a renewed focus on battery life.

The updated permissions are actually really good, something that should have happened long ago. Currently, when you want to install an application, the Play Store informs you of everything the app is requestion permission to access. That will still be there, to an extent, but instead of having a long laundry list of permissions that are hard to understand, Google has simplified them. 

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Apps no longer have blanket access to everything, from your contacts to camera to microphone. The permissions are now only triggered when you access a certain event inside of the application. Google gave the example of WhatsApp. Let's say you want to take a photo, using the camera inside the share-a-photo shortcut in the conversation panel. Instead of already having access, WhatsApp will ask you for permission in a one-time only pop-up dialog box. This way, if you never use that feature, WhatsApp will never have access to that permission. It's a way to directly control what your apps can and cannot access on your phone, and it's a step in the right direction.

Chrome was also talked about heavily. In it's current state, it feels more like an app, something separate from your workflow. When you browse Twitter, Facebook, or your RSS reader of choice, and click on a link, the app will boot you out into Chrome. It's jarring, and not effective. Sure, there are a ways around this using apps like Link Bubble or Flynx, but those are more so a stop-gap. They too feel separate, and not really a part of the overall experience that you get from the app you're currently inside of. The way Google is tackling this is by including something called Chrome Custom Tabs.

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Custom tabs effectively are the same thing as Facebook Instant Articles. The way it works is that let's say your inside an app, and you find a link that you want to quickly check out. You click on it, and instead of being booted out into Chrome, you remain inside of the app. Instead what happens is that a secondary pane slides out from the right. It looks like it belongs in the app itself, borrowing the colours and overall aesthetics, but it's actually a dedicated Chrome window. You could say that it's a form of an internal browser, but it formats itself so much nicer and better than anything else that's currently being used. Chrome takes this a step further too. Instead of only being used for articles, like Facebook Instant, it works with just about any link you throw at it. 

Chrome also has another really interesting feature. Any of the passwords that you have saved inside of the browser will carry over to apps of the same name. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon. No longer will you have to enter in your passwords multiple times, and that makes me really happy.

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Android Pay was also debuted at I/O. Compared to the fanfare around Apple Pay, Android Pay's announcement was a little subdued and felt like more of a secondary announcement. It works just like Apple Pay does - any Android device that's NFC enabled can go up to a payment terminal, tap, and it will allow you to select your payment method from a variety of cards that you enter and store on the device itself. It's seamless, and seems fairly quick. No more fumbling with change, or trying to pry apart too many cards that are stuck together in your wallet.

Android Pay seems like the most natural progression of what Google Wallet was always meant to be. Not only does it work in brick-and-mortar retail stores, it will also work online and inside your apps. If you need to make a quick IAP to get that Candy Crush fix, or if you really just want to buy that sick beat from Taylor Swift, you can do so now through Android Pay. It's a one tap solution online, meaning you don't have to enter that 16 digit string of numbers, and you immediately get an email receipt.

What's great about Android Pay is that Google is also tackling fingerprint sensors head-on. Fingerprint readers have been present in Android in some shape or form since 2011, starting with the Motorola ATRIX. Instead of leaving it up to OEMs like Samsung and Motorola, Google is enabling the proper APIs in Android M for fingerprint sensors and scanners, so you know that it will work. You don't have to worry if Samsung will get it right or not, because it's not something that they're tacking on to Android - it's already baked right in.

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Remember Project Volta? It was announced at I/O '14, along side Android L. It was meant to be Google's attempt at managing the battery performance on your phone, and for the most part, it didn't really live up to the hype. Aside from the Battery Saver mode built into stock Android, Volta didn't do much to ease the battery drain. It didn't help that Android Lollipop had a nasty memory leak bug that still has yet to be really fixed.

Doze, however, is Google's 2015 attempt at rectifying all of this. Android M will intelligently learn how often you use your device, and during what times of the day. So if you use it more during the waking hours, it won't necessarily drop down into a deep sleep every time you power off the display. But if you don't use it when you're sleeping, the device will drop down into a deeper sleep state, only allowing alarms and certain notifications that you want to come through to come through. Google said they had tested this on a device with Lollipop and a device running the developer preview of M, and on M, the battery lasted up to 2x as longer as it did on Lollipop. If that's true, that's really good news, because it means I can likely drop the number of power banks that I carry on me on a daily basis.

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Along with the new software, there will be some new hardware coming with Android M. When the next Nexus device (or devices if the rumours are to be correct) launches likely in the fall, it will support USB Type-C. Yes, the same connector type found in the new MacBook, the Nokia N1, and in the 2015 Chromebook Pixel. It's that reversible, universal USB connection that I'm really excited about, because it's taken Apple's Lightning connector idea, and doused it in a cocktail of tech steroids. What's cool about this is that because it's reversible, you can decide how you want the connection to function. You have charge your phone, or use your phone to charge other device, or use it to transfer data like normal. I'm interested in seeing how this will all play out once M is released in full, but that's still a few months away.

And last but not least, Google has fixed, yes fixed, copy/paste. I've always found that while copy/paste is better and more accurate on Android than it is on iOS (personal preference), it still needed some work.You'd have to be extremely precise when dragging your finger across words, or it'd highlight everything, or something, nothing at all. The new copy/paste works by highlighting word chunks, letting you go back letter by letter when you want to de-select something. And instead of having the copy/cut/paste buttons at the very top of your screen, you now have a floating bar instead hovering right above the selection that you've just highlighted. This is so good that during the keynote, someone actually yelled out, "FINALLY!" Yup.

Android Wear

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Android Wear was fully announced roughly a year ago. Since then, various OEMs have made devices, from Samsung, to LG and Motorola. The whole concept of Android Wear in general is kind of genius in it's utter simplicity - it serves as both a watch, and your notification center. You don't have to dive into an app on your watch to do everything you need to do; that's saved for your phone. What happens on your watch are quick, glanceable, and actionable, or so Google says, and I have to agree with them. As it is, once I get a notification on my phone, I get distracted by diving into the rest of that notification's app. On the watch, I don't want to be doing that. I want to see it, reply or dismiss it, and then get back to my life. And that's something I find you don't get on the Apple Watch.

"Checking the time is really cool."

Android Wear, in it's current form, has over 4.000 dedicated apps to get notifications from. You can get direction, do more voice-actions like yell into your watch to hail an Uber down, and so much more. And yet, you don't get drawn all the way it. It's there, a simple, effortless extension of your life.

Right now, there are over 1,500 different watch faces for Android Wear, and as far as I can tell, only 10 for the Apple Watch, lending even more credence to Google's, "Be Together, Not The Same," ad campaign.

What they did with Android Wear this time around was extend its use-case even further, by letting it become one of the central pieces in Project Brillo, it's new push towards the Internet of Things.

Project Brillo

Souce:   The Verge

Souce: The Verge

The Internet of Things is a simple idea - why should your appliances be dumb and stuck in the past? Why can't they all talk to one another and learn? Why can't they adapt to your schedule, automating themselves to make your life easier?

This is where Project Brillo comes in. Brillo is derived from Android, but is polished down to just the lower layers like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy. This means that you can set your stove to preheat when you're 10 minutes away from home, or turn on your washing machine as you sit on your couch. It's the first step to automating your home and your life, letting you control everything from your phone or watch.

What's interesting is that Google has pulled in members from the Nest, Chrome OS, and Android teams to help build Brillo, which they hope to make into the underlying OS for all IoT devices. This ensures that everything can and will talk together using something that they call WEAVE, which is the communications layer. 

While this portion of the presentation was fairly brief, I'm sure that we'll hear more in the weeks and months to come.

Google Now

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Google Now is easily one of the more futuristic and impressive ventures Google has ever implemented into, well, anything. It's incredibly useful, giving you contextual cards based on your search history and location. Let's say I searched for a pair of headphones two weeks ago, and Google noticed that Amazon decided to put it on sale. I'd get a card notification letting me know that. That's one of the many, many things that Google now can do, and today, it just got infinitely better.

Google Now Now on Tap, a weirdly awkward mouthful of a name, is insane. Basically, it reads your screen for information that it thinks you might want to know about, and then feeds it to you. So if I got a text or email from my friend asking to go see a movie, Mad Max for instance, and I want to know more about it, all I'd have to do is long press the home button and Google Now would pop up from the bottom, giving me all the information and links I'd need to know more about the movie, including the main actors. Another example is if you're looking up a a restaurant, and don't know exactly what the third item on the menu is, long press the home button and Google will just tell you.

"Word error rates in speech recognition has dropped from 23% down to 8% since 2013."

Even crazier? Get a text about a restaurant, pull up Now on Tap, and instantly make a reservation. No more fumbling around with your phone. The crazy thing is that you're not actually leaving the app you were just in. This happens all as a layer on top, meaning you can slide right back into your text, email, or Google search. And up until now, Google Now, while incredibly useful, felt much like Chrome - just another app that was a separate experience from everything else on your phone. Now it feels more natural, like the perfect evolution of search, building it right into your phone, making it predictive, superseding any query you might have.

Google Photos

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Google Photos has long been one of Google's better products. It automatically backs everything up to your account, so that even when you lose or change your phone for a newer one, you can still access every photo you've ever taken. However, up until now, it was buried deep inside of Google+, a service that while I like, is really clunky. It wasn't the easiest to organize either, and would often leave you with duplicates of the same photo if you sent it in a message to any of your friends. 

With Photos having officially been separate from Google+, Google seems to have fixed that. Now, you can access all your photos across your Android devices, the web, and now on your iOS device. 

"But first, lemme take a selfie!"

What's great about Photos is that you can pinch-to-zoom right into a photo from a collection, or pinch-to-zoom out to see the day, week, months, or even years that your photos were taken in. That's not the craziest part - Photos can literally recognize you from birth to four years later. Even in a dimly lit shot of you taken from 15 feet away, Google can recognize you, and while that may seem scary, it really makes me excited because now it means I don't have to worry about tagging my photos. I can take 11 totally different pictures of my friend, and have Google group them all together automatically. Photos can even recognize places you've been to. Let's say you have photos of the CN Tower, you can search for the CN Tower right within the app, and every photo that has the CN Tower in it will pop up, again, all without you having to do any (geo)tagging or metadata entry.

Google also announced that you can store the original photo in it's full resolution up to 16MP and video up to 1080p using your exiting Google Drive storage, or it will compress the photo down in size. Even then, the compression isn't terrible, and the photos still look great. The kicker is that if you opt for the compressed image file size, you then get free, unlimited storage. Forever. Yeah, that's right. Google dropped the mic so hard on this one that I'm fairly sure Dropbox crapped their pants a little.

Cardboard & VR

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Last year, in response to all the VR hype surrounding Occulus and Sony's Project Morpheus, Google decided to take them on in the most tongue-in-cheek manner possible. They created a simple cardboard housing for your phone that when paired with an app, turned your phone into a VR headset. It was cheap, and it worked really well. I distinctly remember various YouTubers being really impressed by it.

According to Google, there are currently 1 million Cardboard viewers, and the majority of them are in the classroom. They demoed how teachers are using it to help their students to interact with the study material on a greater level, which then actually gets them more excited and involved. It's also incredibly cheap. While I didn't get mine officially through Google's I/O event last year, I was able to order one online for $3 CDN from Hong Kong, and have it shipped to me within two weeks. You can't really get more affordable than that, and it beats plonking a TV down in front of your students.

For the next billion people, their smartphone will be their only computer, and for the vast majority, they will be Android users. Eight out of every 10 devices shipped worldwide are Android based now, meaning Google has an incredible reach for potentially life-changing educational resources found in Cardboard. Compared to the recently unveiled $1,500 price tag for the Occulus Rift, Cardboard is incredibly compelling.

Source:   The Verge

Source: The Verge

Beyond the educational purposes, Google is also taking VR to the absolute next level with their 360-degree VR rig. They partnered up with GoPro for a demo video, and it's honestly incredible being pan around inside of a video - the element of immersion is quite incredible. Just watch for yourself

There were some other announcements during the keynote as well, but they were incredibly brief, or mentioned in passing (offline Google Maps, Project Loon, and self-driving cars). Regardless, Google set the stage for the next 12 months, and it's going to be an exciting time. Android M is set to release sometime in Q3, hopefully alongside a new Nexus or two. And with that comes a whole slew of new and exciting things to try out.

Android M, and the rest of this keynote, is the JellyBean update to ICS that we really needed in 2015 - small, meaningful, and incredibly important.

Google I/O 2015 Keynote Liveblog

Today was Google's annual developer conference, I/O. During the near two hour long keynote, we saw many different executives and team leaders from different teams get up on stage and announce some really cool new features.

We got to see that Android M is going the same route as Android L, by offering up a developer preview. That the new permissions are contextual, and only come up when you trigger an event inside of an application, and that the permissions themselves have been trimmed and made easier to understand. We saw that Chrome is taking another step forward into becoming another aspect of Android, as opposed to a separate web browser. We got to see how Android Pay would work, and that Google finally fixed copy/paste on mobile. Sundar Pichai talked about the Internet of Things, and Aparna Chennapragada discussed the future of Google Now. Google Photos got a killer revamp, and Cardboard is literally changing the way students interact and learn in classrooms all over the world.

What we didn't see, however, was an in-depth look into Android M, or hear anything regarding Google+ or Hangouts. Regardless, Google I/O 2015 really stepped its game up, and I'm thoroughly excited to see everything slowly roll out over the next few weeks.

Below, you will find my liveblog of the event, and another post delving into these various topics to help further explain them will be up soon.

  1. I'm super stoked to see what Android released two years ago at Apple's #WWDC2015 next week.
  2. Brace yourselves: There's only 24 minutes left until your timeline is full of Google #IO15 news from yours truly. http://t.co/tnOUF4Y7Ap
    Brace yourselves: There's only 24 minutes left until your timeline is full of Google #IO15 news from yours truly. pic.twitter.com/tnOUF4Y7Ap
  3. And we're off (flying through the solar system, finally landing on earth)! #IO15
  4. This is one insanely long drawn out introduction countdown. #IO15
  5. Man, I want to be Sundar's friend. He seems like he's one of the nicest, smartest, and most thoughtful execs in tech. #IO15
  6. A billion users in each of Google's core products: Search, YouTube, Maps, Gmail, Android, and Chrome. #IO15
  7. Over 4,000 distinct Android devices, 400 OEMs, and 500 carriers. #IO15 http://t.co/K6lkFOuNpL
    Over 4,000 distinct Android devices, 400 OEMs, and 500 carriers. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/K6lkFOuNpL
  8. Like last year's Android L Developer Preview, Android M is going the same route. #IO15 http://t.co/R45xPErLgC
    Like last year's Android L Developer Preview, Android M is going the same route. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/R45xPErLgC
  9. New simpler, smaller app permissions list. Apps only ask when you try to use the feature, instead of when you first install it. #IO15
  10. So far, it looks like Android M will be to Lollipop as Jelly Bean was to ICS - small, meaningful, and important. #IO15
  11. Chrome Custom Tabs - no more dumping out of an app into Chrome; it's one seamless experience. #IO15 http://t.co/iXsF20cyam
    Chrome Custom Tabs - no more dumping out of an app into Chrome; it's one seamless experience. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/iXsF20cyam
  12. Another way to look at Chrome Custom Tabs is that it's like Facebook Instant Articles, but for EVERYTHING. #IO15
  13. Oh man, saved passwords in Chrome will carry over to the apps installed in your phone. That's huge. #IO15
  14. Android Pay! It works with any device that has NFC, and at over 700K retailers (and in-app as well). #IO15 http://t.co/qXlQVxNtBX
    Android Pay! It works with any device that has NFC, and at over 700K retailers (and in-app as well). #IO15 pic.twitter.com/qXlQVxNtBX
  15. Android Pay is what Google Wallet was always meant to be. Hopefully it will come to Canada this time around. #IO15
  16. Google is building native support for fingerprint sensors right into Android, instead of leaving it up to OEMs like Samsung/Motorola. #IO15
  17. Remember Project Volta? Google is taking a new effort to manage battery life better using "Doze" #IO15 http://t.co/h4dEUHyRnl
    Remember Project Volta? Google is taking a new effort to manage battery life better using "Doze" #IO15 pic.twitter.com/h4dEUHyRnl
  18. What's good is that alarms and high-priority messages will still come through. Doze on M lasts 2x longer than on Lollipop. #IO15
  19. USB-C connectors are going to become the standard in Android really soon. 3-5x faster charging. #IO15 http://t.co/7LtxegueG3
    USB-C connectors are going to become the standard in Android really soon. 3-5x faster charging. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/7LtxegueG3
  20. Oh my god. Google fixed copy/paste in Android M. Someone in the audience yelled, "FINALLY!" #IO15 http://t.co/P74ewfwKiZ
    Oh my god. Google fixed copy/paste in Android M. Someone in the audience yelled, "FINALLY!" #IO15 pic.twitter.com/P74ewfwKiZ
  21. There are over 1,500 different watch faces for Android Wear. Only 10 for Apple Watch. #BeTogetherNotTheSame #IO15
  22. "Checking the time is pretty cool." God bless you Google, god bless you. #IO15
  23. This is exactly why Android Wear is so much easier to use and get into than the Apple Watch. It's completely effortless. #IO15
  24. More than 4,000 apps built specifically for Android Wear. Not sure if that's more or less than the Apple Watch. #IO15 http://t.co/X7BHX5rlNx
    More than 4,000 apps built specifically for Android Wear. Not sure if that's more or less than the Apple Watch. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/X7BHX5rlNx
  25. Brillo is derive from Android, but polished down to just the lower layers (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, etc). #IO15 http://t.co/rGgjD3Lyfh
    Brillo is derive from Android, but polished down to just the lower layers (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, etc). #IO15 pic.twitter.com/rGgjD3Lyfh
  26. Weave is the communications layer, letting all of your devices talk to each other. #IO15 http://t.co/VCBsQQYOYH
    Weave is the communications layer, letting all of your devices talk to each other. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/VCBsQQYOYH
  27. Pichai is talking about the Internet of Things, like controlling your home or farm right from your phone. #IO15
  28. The Nest, Android, and Chrome OS teams are working together on Project Brillo, the underlying OS for IoT. #IO15
  29. Word error rates in speech recognition has dropped from 23% down to 8% since 2013. Computer science, y'all. #IO15
  30. Aparna Chennapragada takes the stage to talk about Google Now. #IO15
  31. Google Now is pretty incredible. It has zero competition, and just keeps getting better. Now on Tap is a perfect example of this. #IO15
  32. Now on Tap just knows and pulls up information based on the app your in. Music, email, text messages. #IO15 http://t.co/GFcdmJ24lO
    Now on Tap just knows and pulls up information based on the app your in. Music, email, text messages. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/GFcdmJ24lO
  33. Google Now, until recently, felt like it was completely separate from the rest of Android. Now it feels totally natural. #IO15
  34. Google early 2000s: indexing the web Google 2015: indexing apps (with Google Now)
  35. These demos of Google Now are pretty mindblowing. EG: Get a text about a restaurant? Make a reservation instantly.
  36. It’s the evolution of Google Search: It builds search into the phone, making it predictive, superseding query search.
  37. Google Photos has been around for a while, but no longer will it be buried inside Google+. #IO15 http://t.co/P5SgatNJlc
    Google Photos has been around for a while, but no longer will it be buried inside Google+. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/P5SgatNJlc
  38. Pinch to zoom across days, weeks, months, and years. "Focus on making memories, not managing them." #IO15 http://t.co/MH4BK1JSNE
    Pinch to zoom across days, weeks, months, and years. "Focus on making memories, not managing them." #IO15 pic.twitter.com/MH4BK1JSNE
  39. Holy shit. Google Photos can recognize the same person from literal birth to four years later, no photo tagging required. #IO15
  40. I'm not sure why Google didn't just bake Snapseed right into the new Photos app. Another photo editor seems...counter-intuitive. #IO15
  41. Google is letting you backup and store unlimited photos and videos with the new Photos. HOLY SHIT. FOR FREE. #IO15 http://t.co/PVe7tyF9ab
    Google is letting you backup and store unlimited photos and videos with the new Photos. HOLY SHIT. FOR FREE. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/PVe7tyF9ab
  42. Sure, it'll be compressed, but it's original resolution up to 16 megapixels, & 1080p for videos. #IO15
  43. How much do you want to bet that Dropbox just crapped its pants a little? #IO15
  44. "For the next billion, their phone will be their only computer. The vast majority will be Android users." #IO15
  45. 8 out of 10 devices shipped worldwide are running Android. #IO15
  46. Offline search and turn-by-turn navigation in Google Maps is all kinds of amazing. #IO15 http://t.co/9dlSFU8beq
    Offline search and turn-by-turn navigation in Google Maps is all kinds of amazing. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/9dlSFU8beq
  47. I'm really hoping that there's some news on a Hangouts refresh. #IO15
  48. More cheers for C++ & Polymer 1.0 than Google Now or Offline maps. I'm starting to think that this is a developer conference. #IO15
  49. Developers can now see precise data, and where their customers are based all over the world in Google Play. #IO15 http://t.co/YGSt5cAK9f
    Developers can now see precise data, and where their customers are based all over the world in Google Play. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/YGSt5cAK9f
  50. Google Play has 1 billion users every day, and 50 billion app installs over the last 12 months. #IO15
  51. Google Cardboard has more than 1 million viewers, & is changing classrooms all over the world in a tangible way #IO15 http://t.co/jJjROJq9ok
    Google Cardboard has more than 1 million viewers, & is changing classrooms all over the world in a tangible way #IO15 pic.twitter.com/jJjROJq9ok
  52. Google is making a 360-degree VR camera rig. GoPro will one of the partners. #IO15 http://t.co/gIuAWESekR
    Google is making a 360-degree VR camera rig. GoPro will one of the partners. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/gIuAWESekR
  53. "It's accurate, beautiful, stereoscopic VR. You don't see any spliced image lines." #IO15
  54. Google's self-driving vehicles have driven over 1 million miles with zero accidents due to the autonomous car itself. #IO15
  55. Project Loon can stay 100+ days in the air (2x that of NASA), providing 10 Mbps LTE, with 500m accuracy. #IO15
  56. And that's it. Pichai wraps it up. No stage time for Duarte, and no mention of Hangouts or Google+. #IO15 http://t.co/vPLJlkyP8Q
    And that's it. Pichai wraps it up. No stage time for Duarte, and no mention of Hangouts or Google+. #IO15 pic.twitter.com/vPLJlkyP8Q

Google Fi

As of today, Google is officially a mobile carrier. Well, technically. Let's backup for just a second. As of today, Google is officially an MVNO.

The entire premise behind Google Project Fi is that as you move around, the coverage of your network provider tends to vary. By tapping into your phone's location services, Fi will be able to intelligently switch from Wi-Fi to LTE, using one of it's two current partners - Sprint and T-Mobile. This dynamic carrier should theoretically mean that you, as the end user, should bear witness to higher call quality, and fewer dropped calls.

The kicker behind Project Fi is how it's priced. 

It's a $20/month base fee, and $10/GB pay per use. When you compare it to most two-year terms on any North American provider, it's priced extremely competitively. For example, right now my contract with Rogers Canada is $85/month + taxes for unlimited calling and texting Canada wide with no roaming fees. However, I only have 2GBs of data, which I go over almost every month. I could switch to a cheaper plan using WIND, but that would then mean I lose quite a bit of coverage as soon as I leave the downtown core of Toronto. 

And that's why Fi is super compelling - Google is partnering with multiple carriers and giving you the best possible deal for the lowest possible price. What's amazing is that if you don't use your allotted data cap, you won't be charged. So let's say you use your full 4GBs of data, you'll be charged $40, however if you only use 2.5GBs of data, Fi will only charge you $25. The pay-per-use model is really quite compelling when you think about it.

However, there are a few problems when you consider the fact that Google is going the route of an MVNO. Currently, Fi only works with one phone - the Nexus 6. That immediately limits their scope.  Being an MVNO means you don't have a huge range, but I don't think that that is the Google's goal here. I think that what they are trying to do with Fi is similar to what they are trying to do with the Nexus program - show the incumbents an example of how things could be better. I doubt that Google really is aiming to overtake Verizon or AT&T in the short term, but rather nudge the industry, similar to how Google Fibre has done in the cities it's become available.

As more and more people flock to affordable plans now that  phones are becoming cheaper without too many compromises (i.e. Moto G, E, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, etc), carriers should start to worry. Fi has done what most carriers should have done long ago - turn your cell service into an app. Instead of having to guess how much data you've used, Fi will tell you exactly where you stand in your usage, and that is pure brilliance.

While Fi may never make it to the Canadian market, ala Google Voice, I'm still very much excited to see how this affects the Telco industry as a whole. It's a very interesting time to be a phone enthusiast, that's for sure.