Google I/O, the Big G’s annual developer event, has thrown up some fascinating new plans for Android.
For starters, there was a work-in-progress version of its forthcoming Android O software and changes to how users can track and find lost or stolen smartphones. And we can look forard to the impending arrival of Google Assistant on iPhones too.
Here are five things you need to know from Google I/O 2017.
1 Android O is here
Android O has been available for developers for a couple of months. But Google has now officially confirmed that the work-in-progress version of its new software can be downloaded by the public now.
To lay your hands on it, you’ll need to head here and sign up for the company’s testing programme.
You’ll also need to own a Pixel handset or a recent Nexus phone in order to install Android O successfully.
The updated platform offers tweaks to how apps work in the background, designed to improve battery life, as well as changes to notifications that take their cue from iOS.
Compare our pick of the best Google Pixel deals.
2 Google Assistant for iPhone
After a wave of rumours, Google has lobbed a metaphorical grenade into Apple territory by confirming the release and availability of its Google Assistant function for iOS.
The virtual assistant, which is a direct rival to Apple’s Siri, comes as a standalone app for iPhone and iPad.
You can ask it send iMessages and play tracks via Apple Music or Spotify, but because Apple restricts how Siri rivals work, it doesn’t have the same level of functionality. That means no hailing Uber rides or setting alarms.
Unfortunately, the feature remains US-only for now. But hoopefully that'll change soon.
Take a look at our pick of the best iPhone 7 deals.
3 Google Play Protect
Google has revealed ambitious new plans to boost security on Android. Which has been a thorny issue for some time.
One long standing weakness has been apps, which have in the past led to viruses spreading on Android phones.
Google Play Protect, its new security tool, scans apps for any bugs and offers warnings about apps downloaded from third parties (a major issue in the past), always working in the background.
There’s no need to update or download any new software. Google says Play Protect will work without you ever noticing.
4 Find My Device
Google has renamed and rejigged its Android Device Manager.
Now called Find My Device, the service has been tweaked to allow you too see what Wi–Fi network your phone is connected to and its battery life too.
It still lets you remotely lock or wipe your phone if it’s been lost or stolen, as well as allowing access by simply searching ‘Find My Device’ on Google.
In all, it's a much slicker, sleeker offering than before, making it even easier to keep data safe.
5 Android Pay...streamlined
Google has played around with the software behind its mobile payment system, streamlining its offering to make it easier to hand over your cash.
From now on, any card saved in Google Chrome or on Google Play will work with Android Pay.
That means you don’t need to manually add a card to pay in stores, while other changes mean you can pay for goods and services via apps and the web on your phone by using your Google account, rather than tapping out your long number every time you make a purchase.