May 25, 2024

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Android ecosystem is changing with vertical integration to enhance theft and abuse prevention – Impress Watch

Android ecosystem is changing with vertical integration to enhance theft and abuse prevention – Impress Watch

Samar Samet, Vice President of Android and Google Play at Google (Photo taken during keynote on May 14)

Google announced new measures for Android on May 15 (US time) at its Google I/O 2024 developer conference.

In line with the wide-ranging regulatory change, the company aims to enhance connectivity between Android smartphones, cars, TVs and more, as well as enhance security in case of theft and enhance XR. Samar Samit, Vice President of Android and Google Play at Google, also commented on some details. I will present its contents.

Strengthening vertical integration through regulatory changes AR/XR equipment will be “announced at another event”

Google recently reorganized its division related to devices and services that use Android.

Previously, the teams were divided into devices such as 'Mobile', 'Auto', 'TV' and 'XR', but these teams have now been consolidated and now operate as the 'Android Ecosystem Team'. The reason is the increased vertical integration of the entire ecosystem. Within one team, Android for every device continues to evolve.

Google Play, an app store, is also designed to make it easier to develop and provide personalized content for each device.

Familiar applications such as games on smartphones can now be played in cars, and the ability to “brighten” smartphone screens has become available not only on TVs but also on many other devices.

In particular, the use of the “Cast” function in cars will be an element that will be revealed for the first time at Google I/O. Google-integrated car models from US electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian now support “streaming” from Android, iPhone, etc., making it easier to enjoy the videos you watch or the music you listen to on your smartphone inside the car.

Gaming apps also work in cars with Android Auto or Google built-in.

The Android TV operating system for TVs, projectors, and video hubs has grown to become a major platform alongside smartphones, and Google says “there are more than 220 million active devices shipped from more than 300 companies.” The number of products increased by 47% in 2023. For this reason, the company claims to be “the largest TV operating system in the world.”

Although the core of the operating system is Tizen and not Android, Google's smartwatch operating system “WearOS” also belongs to the same team. The latest version, “Version 5”, will be released at Google I/O 2024. The biggest feature of Version 5 is reduced power consumption. According to Google, when measuring workouts like marathons, simply updating the operating system can reduce power consumption by up to 20%.

Currently, the Android Ecosystem team is actively working on the AR/XR device that is currently in development with Samsung Qualcomm.

“There will be no announcements about AR/XR devices at Google I/O,” Samat said.

However, the company plans to hold an event in the near future that will bring together relevant partners and “provide more in-depth information to consumers and developers.”

As mentioned above, the Google Play Store looks different depending on the device.

“Google Play Store needs to have a different, unique look and feel on AR/XR devices, and whether it's a game or a media app, it needs to be discoverable,” Samat said. “The way, we will provide more detailed information about this later.”

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Improved actions to take when your smartphone is stolen

One of the important features of Android 15 for smartphones is “improved security and privacy.”

The Anti-Theft function is very important especially regarding security.

In recent smartphone thefts, there has been an increase in the number of cases where the smartphone is taken from a person's hand. This is because smartphones are often unlocked, making it easier to use them after they are stolen.

Android 15 detects sudden movements when you take the smartphone out of your hand and put it away, and automatically locks it.

When a smartphone is stolen from your hands, the screen can be locked by capturing its distinctive movements.

A feature called “Private Space” will be introduced at the same time.

This locks installed apps in Private Space. Apps installed in your Private Space cannot be viewed or received notifications unless you unlock them using biometric authentication. This function divides the inside of your smartphone into two parts, which is useful not only if your smartphone is stolen, but also if you have apps or information that you don't want your family or friends to know.

There is also a function to erase all information in the private space by giving instructions after biometric authentication.

Separate important apps that require privacy into a “Private Space” so they cannot be called up without the owner’s biometric authentication.

There are also management functions for application behavior.

Previously, there was a function to warn of suspicious app behavior, but with the power of on-device AI, it will be possible to quickly detect suspicious app behavior without uploading the information to the cloud.

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Google says these features do not require particularly advanced hardware and will be available on many smartphones with operating system updates.