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Google Android Software

Google Announces Allo, Duo, Stable Android N Preview, Instant Apps 108

Also at the conference, Google announced Allo, a new smart messaging app, and Duo, a high-definition video chat app for Android and iOS devices. TechCrunch reports: Why the decision to launch two separate apps? A couple of reasons, it seems. The first is to keep the experiences simple and lightweight; and the second: to do something a little different from the rest of the pack. Facebook, for example, has supercharged Messenger with smart bots, as well as voice and video calling and more on top of its basic text messaging service. Allo leverages Google's assistant bot to prompt interesting and relevant responses to texts. Duo is a one-to-one video chatting app with a number of interesting features including "Knock Knock" which lets you see the real-time video of the person calling you.
Google has also released the third preview of Android N. The company says that it is now safe enough to be used on your primary smartphone and tablet. The new update comes with a feature called "Seamless Updates" which will install system updates in the background.
The company also announced Instant Apps, a feature that will allow users to tap an Instant App URL, and run the app without installing it. Clicking on Instant App URL, Google says, only gleans the parts of the app that you need for a specific purpose. The feature will work on all phones running Android 4.2 or newer version, and will be available starting later this year.
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Google Announces Allo, Duo, Stable Android N Preview, Instant Apps

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @02:54PM (#52137053)

    This is no LUDDITE FIRST POST this is a modern APPER APPING INSTANT APPP!

    Apps!

    • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @03:39PM (#52137299)

      Oh shit, the troll is on-topic! Is this a sign of the End Times?

    • /. really can't be this dense, can it? Have you never written any software for end users? Have you never had to support the installation of said software? You know what I have to do on my phone to install an app? Tap the "all apps" button, search for google play (my carrier puts about 50 apps on my phone), tap Google Play. Put in the _exact_ name of the app (unless it's one of the top 100). Hope the search finds it. tap it. tap install. Read a scary prompt about all the things this app can now do. Tap OK.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hello Flash!

  • by halfEvilTech ( 1171369 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @02:58PM (#52137079)

    Google is opening up the naming suggestions for Android N to the internet.

    hopefully no one submits Namely McNameFace

  • MORE apps?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schitso ( 2541028 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @02:59PM (#52137083)
    Alright, I'm a Google fanboy, so I typically give them the benefit of the doubt, but seriously? What happened to Hangouts being their unified messaging app??
    • Re:MORE apps?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geek ( 5680 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @03:13PM (#52137169)

      Google jumped the shark a couple years ago. They are at peak Google right now but its fading as people are realizing just how intrusive and crappy their stuff is. Gmail and search are their two standout products, everything else is "meh" and often done better by others. Plus Google as a company seems to have ADHD as they simply can't focus on anything at all. It's so childish watching them flail around like they do playing with "cool" stuff and never marketing any of it, promoting any of it, selling any of it. As a company they just suck on so many levels its frightening.

      • Google has a hard time focusing on stable APIs. I love their Android api, their chrome api and app engine api. Their NDK is even usable. I hate the tools they build around these. Trying to chase their next drastic change to the dev environment or their new domain specific language you need to learn just to build your shit is maddening.

        Amazon is builds stuff to serve their customers development. Google builds stuff to fuel their own interests. Sometimes those things turn out to be useful, but then they go c

        • Yeah, they are very inconsistent with their inconsistencies. I think the core Android API is pretty good at remaining stable and backwards compatible, but the periphery APIs in like GCM or Payments are completely different every time I have to implement them, they change about once per year. It's very frustrating to have to learn this stuff again every time I do it.

      • I largely agree, but add some more products to the "good" list: Android is good and has improved over time. YouTube, for all it's warts, is still the best of the video sharing sites (and a modern miracle when doing appliance repair). Waze is my favorite commuting app - the real-time traffic and rerouting works really well. Google Voice is getting long in the tooth, but still offers some killer features, very good international prices, and free US calling. Google's cloud/hosting/whatever is pretty good - I r

        • by msauve ( 701917 )
          "add some more products to the "good" list: Android... YouTube ... Waze"

          None of which were created by Google.
          • They didn't make Voice, either. On my list, only Keep and their hosting services were 100% Google. I think we can give them Android - it was not created there, but they got it in a fairly unpleasant state and have made it into a serious rival for iOS. It was only 2 years old when they bought it and it's had 11 years of intensive development since. While we're at it, Chrome and the ChromeOS aren't all bad.

          • "add some more products to the "good" list: Android... YouTube ... Waze"

              None of which were created by Google.

            So? They developed them far from where they originally started. Just because something didn't start in-house... after all the years those platforms have been around, the code will now be mostly Google-originated.

            • Don't know about YouTube, but Waze hasn't changed that much since being purchased and the team is still lead by the creator of the App. Thus it's still not really a Google app, Google owns them but they run mostly independently.
              • To Clarify, the app has continued to evolve since being bought but along the same development lines as before purchase, and to this date does not have a Google feel to it's layout and design.
        • Android got worse over time. It has become a fugly walled garden. The last good android version was 2.3.7

          • Maybe I was spoiled by my previous iPhone, but I found Gingerbread to be lacking compared to iOS. My later phones have been much better. Faster and with more memory, sure - but the software is much more polished now. I don't really consider it a walled garden unless you need the Google services. That said, I do use Google's stuff so I'm sure there are frustrations that I'm missing.

        • I'll add Google Music, Maps, and the G:Drive / Google Docs suite. Still pissed that they shut down GReader, though.

      • by thoper ( 838719 )
        peak Google?? PEAK GOOGLE?!?! go check Google DeepMind, if they succeed they will be the most important company (and maybe last one) in human history...
    • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 )

      My guess? Internal politics and fadishness rule the day behind the scenes.

      Part of the problem is the branding of Google and people looking to the company as being the premiere purveyor of the latest and greatest. That means they redesign the wheel every few years in order to keep that mystique going as the longer term stuff simmers until its ready.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      This is what happens when a company has no adults to provide supervision.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Alright, I'm a Google fanboy, so I typically give them the benefit of the doubt, but seriously? What happened to Hangouts being their unified messaging app??

      According to a friend on the relevant team, too many users found it confusing, and couldn't tell whether they were sending SMS or Hangouts messages. I think the idea was to build a platform that would "just deliver the message, I don't care how", but there too many case in which people actually *did* care how it was delivered, but didn't feel like they knew what was going to happen.

      Bottom line: user studies showed that most people preferred separate apps for SMS and Hangouts messaging.

      I prefer the unifi

      • Yep, that's important. I use Hangouts with Google Voice for VoIP calls, but sometimes I need to make regular actual-cellular-voice calls too (e.g. when I don't have data access or when Hangouts is screwing up). Last time I tried, I found it to be impossible because Hangouts kept stealing the Intent from the Dialer app! It was stuck in a cycle of "attempt to make regular cellular call with Dialer" -> "Hangouts intercepts Intent and tries to make call over VoIP instead" -> "Call fails because VoIP isn't

        • by unrtst ( 777550 )

          Tell your friend to bring back proper SIP support (or whatever) to allow Google Voice to be used with regular VoIP software, and while he's at it, to bring back XMPP federation for Talk.

          This.
          It's fucking 2016. Chat clients have been around for ages, and they still don't talk to each other. Google took the best chance at an open protocol/platform (XMPP), had it initially open, then shut down federation. Seems like a move out of MS's wheelhouse.
          SIP clients and/or servers that don't talk to other SIP clients and/or servers are dumb too. Why do people keep using them?
          Two additional chat clients - gee, great. Two more distinct groups of users that can't talk to each other. Lemme know when they

          • by xvan ( 2935999 )
            I was a gtalk under xmpp user. Resisted over a year after hangouts made it unusable:

            On google's defence, none of the other two massive xmpp chats (watsapp and facebook), opened their platforms.

            Yahoo messenger is dead, MSN messenger was dropped for Skype, and I don't live in the US to know if anybody keeps using AOL.
            If you add those Russian and Chinese chats, I think that's all the relevant last 2 generations of IM.

            Voice and video over xmpp was always a mess, corporative xmpp don't seem to federate s
      • Power users use Signal anyway. If Google wants to federate with Moxie and Whatsapp, I'll switch to Hangouts.

    • Don't worry - it's Google. The ridiculous tiny apps will have their couple of interesting features rolled into Hangouts after they're cancelled in eighteen months.

    • Not just Hangouts. There's the Messenger app from Google for SMS. The Messenger app that came on my phone for SMS. Google Voice.

      I open Hangouts it asks me if I want to use Hangouts for SMS, that turns off both Messengers, but not Voice.

      The Google messenger app doesn't seem to work when it's set as default. I still have to go through Google Voice. Half of the time SMS shows up in Hangouts as well.

      Meanwhile if I get an Amber alert the only way to dismiss them is to change my default app to the native Samsung

  • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 )

    What's with this "bot" integration into messaging apps? Did I miss a meeting where this was all hashed out as a good thing?

    Not to be standing on my lawn for too long, but I haven't seen an answer as to why this is a feature I'd want to use. If I'm not there, I don't want anything answering for me. Especially that I'm not around. And doubly so to strangers. Did anyone discuss the security implications of having what amounts to a chat answering machine?

    What happened to having a simple interface and letting us

    • The things is, you and I won't like this, but there are tons of hipsters and others that will love this feature. The next generation has no expectations or really understanding of privacy and why you would even want it.

      You try talking about why privacy should be important to them, and they will basically picture you living in a cabin in the woods with no access to the internet and limited access to the outside world.

      • You try talking about why privacy should be important to them, and they will basically picture you living in a cabin in the woods with no access to the internet and limited access to the outside world.

        What, you told them where I live?

        You traitor!

    • Not to be standing on my lawn for too long, but I haven't seen an answer as to why this is a feature I'd want to use. If I'm not there, I don't want anything answering for me. Especially that I'm not around. And doubly so to strangers. Did anyone discuss the security implications of having what amounts to a chat answering machine?

      As far as I know, you're supposed to be the user at the other end of the connection. The bots are meant to be deployed by businesses for customers to interact with. Think of them as the IM equivalent to the automated phone systems that businesses have these days.

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      The only valuable feature for the future or humanity:

      Text from Joe: Yo dude, what's up man, lets hang out.
      {system: no vibrate/ring/anything}
      Auto-Text: I'm in a frigging movie right now, don't disturb me because I don't want to annoy the hundred people behind me.

      • The only valuable feature for the future or humanity:

        Text from Joe: Yo dude, what's up man, lets hang out. {system: no vibrate/ring/anything} Auto-Text: I'm in a frigging movie right now, don't disturb me because I don't want to annoy the hundred people behind me.

        What's the advantage over this?:

        Text from Joe: Yo dude, what's up man, lets hang out.

        {system: no vibrate/ring/anything}

        Me (2 hours later): I was in a frigging movie before, I didn't answered then because I didn't want to annoy the hundred people behind me.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @03:04PM (#52137113) Journal

    A smart messaging app - thank goodness! I've been waiting for forever to get another messaging app. I mean sure, there's Google Hangouts. And Google Messenger. But I keep feeling like they could do a better job, and what better way to fix the half-assed messaging platforms they've done in the past than just kick them to the curb and start over from scratch. In fact, I'm already excited about the messaging platform that that's going to be super-awesome NEXT year when they abandon Allo because we all realize that, actually, it pretty much sucks.

    And let's hope they do better with Duo than than they did with Voice - because...oh, who am I kidding. Whatever the write after they abandon Dou in a half-finshed state is going to be super-cool, too!

    God, I'm just SO excited about all the new apps from Google!!

    • I agree with what you say, but I think a shorter way to say it is that instead of fixing other half-assed messaging apps, they have given us another half ass to add to the total.

      (though with Duo I suppose big-picture it's a whole ass)

    • because you're not paying attention to trends. Allo isn't about messaging, it's about expert systems. You can "chat" with Allo and it will answer questions. Companies can write apps on top of Allo. So you ask Allo: What's my bank balance and it answers. Companies pay Google for the privilege of having it answer questions they would otherwise be paying folks in call centers to answer.

      Now, will they get people to bite? Maybe. One way to make this happen is just to pull all your support. Or make the waits
  • I just want to know if they are going to call it Android Nutella or what?

    Mmmm Nutella.....

  • Already cancelled (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rainwalker ( 174354 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @03:21PM (#52137209)

    Just save yourself some disappointment and assume they've already been cancelled. You'd have to be a blinding idiot to start using any new Google app, especially a chat app. Like always, they'll get about 75% completed, then, like a small toddler, will get bored and wander off in search of the next shiny, while the app bitrots until someone finally notices and kills it.

  • by multi io ( 640409 ) <olaf.klischat@googlemail.com> on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @03:25PM (#52137231)
    So they're not upgrading but replacing Hangouts with not one but two new apps. I'm sure there's a brilliant strategic move hidden in there somewhere that I just fail to see.
    • Throw enough shit at the wall, and not only will some of it stick, but there is a non-zero probability that it might look like a piece of art.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @03:39PM (#52137297)

    Google has also released the third preview of Android N. The company says that it is now safe enough to be used on your primary smartphone and tablet. The new update comes with a feature called "Seamless Updates" which will install system updates in the background.

    Oh yeah? Have they finally made it so these updates don't require the carrier's permission to install?

    • Have they finally made it so these updates don't require the carrier's permission to install?

      My tablet's Wi-Fi carrier is Comcast. Why would I need Comcast's permission to install a dist-upgrade? Even on phones, if someone buys a factory-unlocked phone, why would he need the carrier's permission to remove the SIM and install a dist-upgrade over Wi-Fi?

    • Google has also released the third preview of Android N. The company says that it is now safe enough to be used on your primary smartphone and tablet. The new update comes with a feature called "Seamless Updates" which will install system updates in the background.

      Oh yeah? Have they finally made it so these updates don't require the carrier's permission to install?

      No, Google doesn't have any control over that.

      What seamless updates does is use A/B boot partitions, so it can download an update and validate and install it in (say) the "B" partition. After it's all ready to go, you just have to reboot to activate it. It just looks like an ordinary reboot, no "optimizing apps" or anything. Incidentally, this also means that if the boot from "B" fails, the device can (and will) fall back to booting the working system on partition "A".

      All of this is closely modeled on,

      • No, Google doesn't have any control over that.

        Isn't Google holding the source code?

        • Re:O RLY? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Shawn Willden ( 2914343 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @05:40PM (#52138083)

          No, Google doesn't have any control over that.

          Isn't Google holding the source code?

          No, actually.

          Google develops the base system, but OEMs modify the source -- sometimes heavily -- before they build and ship it, and they do not give Google a copy of the source of the code they ship. In general, Google has no ability to build system images for non-Nexus/Pixel devices.

          In addition there are lots of firmware components that Google doesn't have any visibility into at all. For example, I work on the hardware-backed keystore, which requires a bit of firmware that runs in a trusted execution environment (e.g. ARM TrustZone). I defined the interface (the Hardware Abstraction Layer, or HAL) and I wrote the reference implementation of that HAL, which is actually used on a small number of devices that ship with the Google-provided TEE. But the vast majority of devices use an implementation of the HAL from another provider. Qualcomm, Trustonic, nVidia and Intel all write their own versions, and those are just the ones I know about. There may be others. I have no visibility into their code, and sometimes changes I make in the keystore system daemon or at the framework level are incompatible with their implementations. In an ideal world, the HAL should be so tightly-specified, and the compliance test suite so thorough, that I can have confidence that their implementations work exactly the same as the reference implementation. In reality, stuff is complicated, there are corner cases and subtle misunderstandings that no one foresaw. And don't forget about OEM changes.

          So, per-device testing of the final per-device build is absolutely essential to have any kind of stability. Which means that OEMs have to do it. And carriers often don't trust that OEMs have done it adequately, so they insist on doing their own testing as well.

          I should also point out that many of the other firmware components (bluetooth, wifi, camera, baseband, etc.) have dozens of implementations, not just a few like mine.

          All of this is both the greatest strength and, IMO, the greatest weakness of the Android ecosystem. It's a strength because there is power in diversity, ability to hit more market niches at more price points and meet more users' needs. It's a weakness because the diversity means there's a lot more work to be done to test and validate changes, and because designing for an open ecosystem is a lot harder than for a closed one. Sometimes I think I should go work for Apple because my life would be much easier.

          OTOH, if I worked for Apple, I'd probably be swarmed by lawyers for writing a post like this one, among other things I dislike about Apple's culture. Also, if I worked for Apple my work would have much less impact on the world.

          • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

            OTOH, if I worked for Apple, I'd probably be swarmed by lawyers for writing a post like this one, among other things I dislike about Apple's culture. Also, if I worked for Apple my work would have much less impact on the world.

            Another reason to be glad I deal with iOS, and not Android: namely, you don't.

            • OTOH, if I worked for Apple, I'd probably be swarmed by lawyers for writing a post like this one, among other things I dislike about Apple's culture. Also, if I worked for Apple my work would have much less impact on the world.

              Another reason to be glad I deal with iOS, and not Android: namely, you don't.

              I don't know what you thought to accomplish with that comment, but you did manage to show me what you are.

      • No, Google doesn't have any control over that.

        Oh, they have control over it if they want it. They just choose to ignore the users' demands for a proper OS which can update itself to close off security exploits. Instead, they leave security in the hands of manufacturers and carriers, both of whom have a vested interest in not updating because a) it saves them money, and b) it forces users to upgrade to the next shiny new handset a bit earlier.

        The Seamless Updates feature is a beautiful example of how ton

        • Google really needs to get its act together and bring security updates entirely in-house.

          Impossible.

          Google doesn't even have source code for non-Nexus/Pixel devices. See my other post in this thread for more detail.

          • No, it's not impossible. They're quite capable of updating all code which they authored, and pushing those updates themselves. They're also quite capable of changing their licensing terms such that all manufacturer cruft must be installed as user-removable apps, and the manufacturers are quite capable of complying.

            Would it take some work to institute this? Definitely. Would it be much better for end users? Without question. Will it ever happen? Unlikely in the next 3-5 years, I'd guess, and in part that's
            • No, it's not impossible. They're quite capable of updating all code which they authored, and pushing those updates themselves.

              I see that you have an extraordinarily high opinion of the capabilities of Google engineers. Although we do have some really outstanding people, I don't think we're quite that good. I mean, theoretically it should be possible to decompile the binaries, determine from the decompilation how the OEM's source differs from the original source, apply the necessary patches (resolving any merge conflicts) and recompile to generate new binaries. That's a really, really tall order, though. Especially with the native-

      • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

        Thanks for being willing to engage with the crowd here. I have two questions about the keynote announcements (as they pertain to Android):

        1. The system update doesn't require a password. Is this a security flaw? I'm assuming that your images are signed and that the handset verifies them, but this seems to me to be the exact vulnerability that the FBI tried to get Apple to exploit.

        2. Android Instant Apps: What is their permissions behavior? Sure, it sounds cool that I can write some application, and people c

        • So, I don't know the Instant Apps stuff that well. I haven't been involved with it. I'm sure that permissions must still be approved by the user. In the case of Marshmallow+ and the run-time permission model, this should work very nicely. I assume that on older devices it'll still have to ask all-or-nothing, up front (which users will, of course, click through without reading). I expect there are going to be tighter controls in the Play store on apps that support instant-run, but I don't know what that will

    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      This is not what you are thinking. One on nexus devices (the only ones with N preview) carrier or manufacturer permission is not needed. However an OTA OS update uses the devices recovery partition to install the update. If you have flashed a custom recovery like me then you cannot use OTA updates, you have to manually flash.

      So, hopefully this means less intrusive and easier updates to the OS. Once N is released to manufacturers and carriers, it is still up to them as to whether to push an update. Via

  • Is a complete personal digital assistant, concierge, etc. If it can't do all the things with minimal input from me, what good is it. As it is I'm duplicating work like adding calendar entries from one site (that is account protected) to my own calendar, I should be able to have that done automatically for me once I'm logged in. I don't want a Virtual Personal Assistant, I want an AI Personal Assistant!
  • But it's just two or three omonims.
  • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @04:11PM (#52137505) Homepage

    Will someone PLEASE come up with an interoperable chat protocol, because I'm getting sick of every single person I need to communicate with wanting me to use yet another messaging app that no one else I know uses.

    • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @04:32PM (#52137663)

      We have that; it's called XMPP. Google Talk even used to support it, before the functionality was removed for "let's be evil" reasons.

      • I guess I should have been more specific "come up with an interoperable chat protocol that everyone actually uses".

      • http://www.zdnet.com/article/g... [zdnet.com]

        The Google representative said "XMPP was designed over a decade ago to provide a way for chat networks to interoperate, known as federation. Google Talk was the only major network to support federation, and after seven years, it’s evident that the rest of the industry is not moving to embrace this open system. If, at some point in the future, the industry shows interest, then we would then be open to discussions about developing an interface that's designed for modern needs."

        That doesn't sound like "let's be evil".

        • That doesn't sound like "let's be evil".

          No, it totally does: even if other "major" (whatever that means) networks refuse to participate, that doesn't give Google an excuse for failing to federate with the minor ones!

          Not being evil means actually not being evil, not claiming that being evil is okay just because everybody else is too.

    • Apparently both the new Allo [whispersystems.org] and WhatsApp [whispersystems.org] use Signal's [whispersystems.org] protocol for end-to-end encryption.
      • And whatsapp even uses a protocol based on XMPP. Doesn't mean that its client software or servers are compatible with XMPP. They even have sent DMCA claims against projects that have reverse engineered the whatsapp protocol. They actively hate any third party clients.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Or at least a software that can handle all like Trillian, Pidgin/Finch, etc.

  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @05:25PM (#52137987)
    I'd be curious to know how secure these apps are. I'm looking for a good messaging system and video chat system, but I don't want to move to something new unless I know my conversations are secured and chats aren't stored on some server somewhere. What kind of encryption do these apps feature?
    • Who cares about encryption if the client is not FLOSS or uses an open protocol?
    • Signal [whispersystems.org] is OSS [github.com], uses client-side end-to-end encryption, and features both messaging and video (formerly 'TextSecure' + 'RedPhone'). If the recipient doesn't have Signal, messaging goes out as a regular SMS/MMS (with 'unsecure' warning).

      The only information stored on the Signal servers, iirc, are hashes of the phone numbers and corresponding IPs to allow the clients to find eachother.

      Apparently they're responsible for the encryption of Google's Allo [whispersystems.org], too, as well as WhatsApp [whispersystems.org].

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