Opinion: Google’s future is in AI, but Chrome OS getting the Play Store is a big deal today

This year’s I/O was a big one. Maybe not the largest in terms of new products and services, but definitely not the smallest either. Among other things, the Mountain View, California company announced its Daydream VR platform for Android, an evolution of the Google Now assistant in the form of an AI-powered “Google Assistant,” a couple of new messaging apps and some hardware to play the part of debuting the Assistant, a new version of Android Wear, and more.

The keynote had this overarching theme that Google is no longer just a company that does search and ads. Now, Google is diving head first into artificial intelligence and machine learning, and most of the things that were announced in the keynote fell into that narrative for the most part. This is the stuff that’s not coming out for at least half a year. Most things, from Allo and Duo to Google Home, felt half-baked. It felt like everything was unfinished, and to some degree, that’s true. It’s still early days.

While Google wanted to paint this big picture of what the company envisions for the next few years and beyond, it saved some of the stuff that’s actually really cool today for other events at the conference. The most obvious of these was the press-only event Google hosted on day 2, showing off a huge new feature for Chrome OS: support for the Play Store that has long been tied down to Android. We’ve known this was coming for a long time, but now it’s here — serving as the next move to make Chrome OS and Android more alike than ever…

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We are living in the future: Alphabet & GSK in $715M deal to develop ‘bioelectronic medicine’

It doesn’t seem that long ago when putting tiny machines into people’s bodies to cure or manage diseases was the stuff of science-fiction, but bioelectronics is a real – if very new – field of medicine. Alphabet’s Verily Life Sciences (formerly Google Life Sciences) and pharma company GSK are teaming up to invest 5M in the tech over the next seven years.

Bioelectronic medicine is a relatively new scientific field that aims to tackle a wide range of chronic diseases using miniaturised, implantable devices that can modify electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body, including irregular or altered impulses that occur in many illnesses. GSK has been active in this field since 2012 and believes certain chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma could potentially be treated using these devices … 

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Xiaomi reportedly building its own chips for future high-end smartphones

It is no surprise that devices enjoying deep hardware and software integration tend to be the best. You may like them, you may not; but that tight connection generally makes phones, tablets, computers and all sorts of electronics work better. However, there’s an additional tile to it, one that Xiaomi is seemingly prepping to integrate…

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Huawei’s Honor 5X is a peek at the future of budget phones, hopefully with better software

I’ve been using my Honor 5X on and off for about a week now, and my thoughts on the phone pretty much align with what everyone else is saying: The phone’s significance is not that it’s an amazingly great phone, but that it’s yet another inch toward driving down the price of good phones in general.

In the future, a “budget” phone (you know, the 0 Moto Gs of the world) will offer everything that today’s flagships tout. They will be made of metal, they will have fingerprint sensors, they will have more than capable processors, they will have great cameras, and they will have good software.

To me, the Honor 5X is our first peek at such a future. But it’s definitely not without its flaws…

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SXSW: Sony’s Future Lab shows off its ‘N’ audio-based wearable, other projects

Earlier this month Sony announced a new R&D initiative called the “Future Lab Program” and a mysterious device simply called “N” was concurrently shown off in a YouTube video. Details on this audio-based wearable were light until today, but the Japanese company set out to fix that by heading to the capital of Texas at SXSW Interactive to take the wraps off…

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Google pulled Apple Watch support from Maps on iOS, but plans to add it back in the future

A number of iOS apps are suddenly pulling support for the Apple Watch, and the latest to have its Watch app suddenly disappear is Google Maps. While one might see this as a sign that a major player has abandoned development of an Apple Watch companion for one of the most-used apps on the App Store (currently sitting at #9 on the free charts), Google says support will be coming back later…

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Huawei could ditch Android Wear for Samsung’s Tizen in its future smartwatches

Earlier this month a report from CNET revealed that some Android Wear OEMs, including Huawei, were planning to take a break this year and wouldn’t be releasing any new wearables. Now a report out of Korea has revealed that Huawei may be switching its wearable OS entirely, ditching Google’s Android Wear for Samsung’s Tizen….

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Chrome 48 released to stable channel, better performance coming in future updates

Chrome on Mac, Window, and Linux is being updated this week to version 48. The latest update contains the usual bug fixes and improvements for the desktop browser, but mobile devices will see the bulk of the improvements. Future updates to Chrome, we’ve learned, will bring a new compression algorithm that will help the browser load faster pages and use less power on all platforms.

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Report: Google dropping ‘Nexus’ brand as future phones get more software customization

After seven generations of phones, tablets, and set-top boxes, Google is reportedly going to stop using the Nexus brand name. A new report from Android Central corroborates earlier rumors and details a move towards more software customization on upcoming devices.

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Google marks Night Mode ‘bug’ for Nexus devices as ‘future release’ after feature disappeared

Android Nougat brings a lot of new features to the table, but sometimes it’s the little things that really make software great. One of those little things in Nougat was Night Mode. It first popped up in the developer previews and remained hidden just under the surface, but in 7.1, it was blocked completely and left only on Pixel devices.

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