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Google launches Android Pay, confirms IoT platform, offers unlimited cloud image storage

Android Pay

Google has finally unveiled its response to Apple Pay, cheekily named Android Pay, as well as a stripped-down version of Android designed to run on IoT devices at its Google I/O developer conference.

Android Pay seems to be pretty equivalent to its Apple competitor in so much as it provides a platform for you to use your phone to pay for things from your bank or credit card accounts. Not only will you be able to pay by tapping NFC points in stores without having to launch an app (but you do need to unlock the phone), it will also enable one-click payments online.

It also uses a tokenization system for security and has all the major credit cards on-board. It is not yet available to download and, like Apple Pay, will initially be for the US, but before long most smartphones should also be mobile wallets.

Jeremy Nicholds, Executive Director of Mobile at Visa Europe, said: “Today’s announcement is another example of why we are saying that 2015 is the year mobile payments are set to become truly mainstream for consumers. Visa Europe is delighted at the prospect of working alongside Google to open up the Android Pay platform when it comes to European Visa cardholders, giving them exciting new options to make payments with their favourite Visa card powered by our secure technologies such as Visa payWave and our new Payment Token Service.”

The IoT version of Android is codenamed Brillo, as previously reported, and Google claims it has a small enough footprint to run tiny embedded IoT modules. The benefit of it being derived from Android means there is already a massive installed base of device makers ready to use it.

On top of that Google also announced Weave, which it is positioning as a communications layer that allows IoT devices to talk to each other, smartphones and the cloud. It seems to be an HTML-like standardized language for defining the activities and capabilities of IoT devices that is platform-agnostic.

The broader context of all these announcements was the unveiling of the next major version of Android – currently just called Android M, but will eventually be Marshmallow or something like that. It featured a bunch of tweaks mainly of interest to app developers as well as a refresh of the Android Wear smart watch variant.

One other major announcement concerned Google Photos, an enhancement of the image auto-backup feature already available to Google/Android users. The big deal about Google Photos is that it offers unlimited storage of photos with resolutions up to 16MP and 1080p video, which seems to mean you can upload your entire image collection to the cloud as well as not having to worry about losing any taken by your connected device. This seems very generous and is likely to raise the consumer cloud storage stakes somewhat.

“Google’s Brillo and Weave IoT announcements represent further evidence of growing standards fragmentation,” said Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight. “Nonetheless, the moves stand to better integrate Google’s own offerings and underlines the company’s strength by virtue of its raft of services and Android installed base”

“It’s increasingly clear that consumers are sleepwalking into a world where huge swathes of their personal data resides with Apple, Google or both. Today’s announcements underlined that for both photos and the emerging Internet of Things segment”

“It’s little wonder Google is has offered unlimited storage on its new photos platform. Photos are becoming a hugely valuable asset to companies like Google and Facebook. As techniques such as image analytics, auto tagging, face detection and machine vision improve, the information that can be derived from a simple photo is immense. By default it means images are of clear value to companies driven by targeted ad-sales”


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