Google Unveils New Product Plans And Addition Of HBO Now To Android

UPDATED: The search giant gave developers a lot food for thought in a presentation today that described its plans to promote wearable devices, virtual reality, digital photography and other services.

Products SVP Sundar Pichai kicked off the Google I/O 2015 keynote presentation, though, by announcing that HBO Now — the premium channel’s $14.99 streaming service — will be offered to Android users this summer with an app from Google Play.

The service will be available with Cast support for Android, iOS, and web browsers.

“We have seen through social media that there is great demand for the service among Android and Chromecast users and we’re excited to deliver HBO Now to them,” says HBO’s Domestic Network Distribution EVP Bernadette Aulestia.

HBO made a splash in March when it unveiled the product for its launch on Apple TV, the first time the premium channel offered its broad content library via broadband to people who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite. Cablevision’s Optimum platform also offered HBO Now. The service began on April 7, just before the new season of Game Of Thrones.

At the presentation, Google discussed new features for Android-powered digital watches and wearable devices. It already has more than 4,000 apps written for its Android Wear platform.  Upcoming ones for services including Foursquare, Citymapper and Uber will be able to be controlled by voice commands. Android Wear’s David Singleton  says the goal is to make apps “glanceable, actionable and effortless.” For example, users of Android watches will be able to scroll through pages with a flick of the wrist.

Execs told developers that the company’s Project Brillo will provide an operating system for what’s known as the Internet of Things — devices from thermostats to dog collars that connect to the Web.

Developers at the presentation responded enthusiastically to a new platform, Google Photos — available today — that provides free, unlimited back up for images as big as 16 megapixels as well as 1080p videos. Users can store their digital pictures in the cloud and still easily access and edit them on smartphones, tablets and other devices. It will automatically organize the library by people, places, and other criteria even though “I have not tagged a single one of them,” Director of Photos Anil Sabharwal says. He assures that the information will remain private.

Google is opening opportunities to access YouTube videos and Google Maps offline. With a Maps change, available later this year, users will be able to store a map of a location and still search for places, check reviews, and navigate via turn-by-turn directions without an Internet connection.

Google Play will become more user, and family, friendly for people looking for apps, games, TV shows, and books. The company will allow for filtered search. For example, parents can look for age-appropriate material for their kids, identified by a Family Star. Execs promise to offer objective, third-party ratings for all apps, and will label ones that are ad-supported.

People can search based on popular characters such as Dora the Explorer, or other identifying qualities including movies such as Star Wars.

The company will expand its inexpensive Cardboard virtual reality platform. It will work with Apple phones as well as Android ones as large as 6 inches. Google will offer schools synchronized VR field trips in a program called Expeditions.

Google Jump is teaming with GoPro to help people stitch images together and create 3D videos. This summer YouTube will support the stereoscopic views.

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