Since 2008, Google has used its annual I/O conference to give software developers, engineers, and other tech-oriented folks a glimpse at the near and distant futures of Google products, services, and technologies. Recent years have been the debut stage for everything from Google Glass to Google Cardboard, with dozens of developments in-between.
Yesterday’s I/O 2015 keynote placed a great emphasis on Android and how Google’s smartphone OS will be optimized and reinvented in the months and years to come. The Verge pulled together an excellent overview of the most important announcements, and a few could have a significant impact on businesses both small and large. Here’s what marketers and business owners should keep their eyes on:
#1 – Google Now is Getting Smarter
A program called Now on Tap will integrate Google Now into more areas of Android smartphones, making it smarter and more responsive to what users are looking for. Whether you’re in an app, your email inbox, or a web browser, holding the home button will bring up Google Now cards relevant to your current view. For example, a friend might text or email you about wanting to get dinner that night. Google Now cards will serve you information about nearby restaurants and buttons for relevant apps, like Yelp and OpenTable. Or, your spouse might text you about a plumbing emergency at home. Google Now will respond with links and phone numbers for local plumbers.
Contextual understanding is key. In the stage example, asking “What is his real name?” while listening to Skrillex on Spotify pulled up the answer without any additional clarity. Ideally, Google Now will be able to make meaning out of keywords like “burrito,” “urgent,” and “tonight,” while analyzing your apps for even deeper information, to deliver the most relevant options. For businesses, this means that local listings on platforms like Yelp and Google+ are more important than ever–users now have an additional channel by which they may find you. For the same reason, page-one SEO will gain even more importance as Google selects just a few options to show people using Now.
#2 – Google Maps is Going Offline
Oft-requested and finally in the works, Google Maps will allow much of its functionality while offline. For users with poor cell reception, in rural areas, or with an imminent dead battery, this will be a blessing. Even while offline, searches will auto-complete, reviews and information will be shown, and turn-by-turn directions can be given. This will equate to more people using Google Maps more often, which is all the reason you need to shore up your Google Maps listings, get every business location verified, and QA your local listings.
#3 – Android Pay is Joining Digital Payment
Google is hoping that Android Pay, its answer to Apple Pay, will gain more traction than Google Wallet. It already seems well on its way. The functionality will come pre-installed on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile phones, and 700,000 store are already on-deck to accept Android Pay. Details are still scarce, but it’s looking like the same checkout terminals that support Apple Pay will accept Android Pay. Now’s the time to look into whether installing this technology is right for both your mobile applications and your customer-facing storefronts.