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Google’s making more moves into the virtual reality and messaging worlds as the company revealed new products and updates at its Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California on Wednesday.
It announced a new platform for virtual reality called Daydream, and said manufacturers including Samsung, HTC and Huawei would have smartphones capable of handling it this fall.
The platform, included in its upcoming Android N operating system, is meant to improve upon the experience of Cardboard, which Google launched two years ago, by making virtual-reality experiences that are more comfortable, higher quality and more immersive.
Google said it had created a reference design for a headset that a partner manufacturer would have ready for the fall, and designs for a new controller that has a few buttons, a touchpad, and sensors that track its orientation and where it’s pointing.
In a demonstration for some 7,000 attendees at the conference, the Internet search giant showed how the controller could be used to flip digital pancakes, throw things, cast a virtual fishing line and fly a digital dragon.
New Messaging App
A messaging app that incorporates Google’s new voice assistant? Say “hello” to Allo.
The app, available this summer on both Android and rival Apple phones, allows chatting partners to look up restaurant options and even book a table right in the app.
It also gives users an array of emojis and stickers and the option to increase or decrease the size of text to add emphasis.
Allo also gives a range of automated responses to questions and even photos, recognizing things like food and dog breeds.
In a smack at Snapchat, Allo also features an “incognito” mode that adds end-to-end encryption and allows a person to set a timer on when their chat messages disappear.
Android Pay Expands to U.K.
Google’s mobile payment service, Android Pay, is coming to the U.K., marking its first expansion outside the U.S.
On Wednesday, Google joins Apple Pay, which launched in the U.K. nearly a year ago.
With both services, users merely tap a phone next to a store’s payment reader to charge a credit or debit card. But it works only with stores that have newer wireless readers called near field communication.
Another challenge has been persuading consumers that it’s easier than pulling out a plastic card for payment.
Apple Pay is also in China, Canada, Australia and Singapore, with Hong Kong and Spain to come. Google says Android Pay will expand to Singapore and Australia this year.
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