Google Updates Android Auto With “OK Google” Voice Command

What Happened
Android users will soon be able to activate their in-car infotainment system by saying “OK Google,” the same hot-word command used for Google Home and Pixel phones, as the search giant start rolling out voice command to Android Auto. With supported models, drivers will be able to get directions, check the weather, or change their music hands-free, which makes for a safer, more convenient driving experience. In addition, the updated Android Auto app also comes with a streamlined interface for driving and the options to have your incoming text messages read aloud and to respond to them using voice.

Why Brands Should Care
Compared to Apple, which added Siri support to its CarPlay in August 2015 and updated in-car Siri features this June, Google may seem a bit behind in introducing its digital assistant service into cars. Nevertheless, now with this Android Auto update, more car owners will get to interact with their in-car infotainment system in a conversational manner.

Besides Google and Apple, auto brands are also actively pursuing the potential of in-car conversational interfaces. For instance, Hyundai became the first auto brand to integrate with Amazon’s voice-based digital assistant service Alexa this summer. As more and more consumers become familiarized with the type of voice-based interfaces, brands will need to seize the initiative to navigate the emerging opportunities and challenges of the changing forms of digital interaction.


Source: The Verge

Google Play Now Advising Users To Uninstall Apps They Don’t Use

What Happened
Google is introducing an Uninstall Manager to the Play Store to intelligently suggest apps for users to uninstall in order to free up some storage space on their phones. The new tool presents users with a list of apps that haven’t been used for a while and instructs users to remove the ones that they no longer need.

What Brands Need To Do
In the past few years, a number of brands, especially those in ecommerce or the service industry, have eagerly developed branded apps in order to reach connected consumers. But as the app market matures, it is becoming harder and harder for brands to convince customers to download their apps. The new Uninstall Manager may bring a new threat to branded Android apps, as many customers download apps for a one-off purchase or discount and end up rarely using them.

In order to combat app fatigue, brands need to start exploring new channels and platforms to connect with mobile users, such as messaging apps and live-streaming platforms. Brands would also be wise to leverage the new Google Instant Apps to allow users to quickly access parts of their in-app content and functions. For more on this, please check out our latest Fast Forward analysis on the Google I/O event.


Source: Android Police

Google Wants You To Try Out Apps Before Downloading

What Happened
App-install ads — mobile ads that prompt users to download an app – take up a significant portion of mobile ad spending, with U.S. mobile app-install ad revenue expected to top $4.6 billion this year. And now, Google wants to improve app-install ads by giving users a better idea of the advertised apps before they commit. Last week, Google introduced a new mobile ad unit called “Trial Run Ads,” offering users a 60-second immersive demo of apps before they download, and will only cost advertisers when users click the install button.

What Brands Need To Do
This new ad unit feels like an natural extension of Google App Streaming that the company started testing on Android devices last month, which allows mobile users to search and view app content without having to download the app. Trial Run Ads adds new interactivity to app-install ads, which should help make those ads more engaging and appealing to mobile users. For brands that are looking to boost their app usage, offering a demo through Trial Run Ads can help remove some of the frictions in getting users to download apps, while easily showcasing the features and capabilities of their branded apps.


Source: TechCrunch

Mobile Payment Heats Up Again As Google Debuts Android Pay

Earlier today at its annual I/O developer conference, Google officially unveiled its newest attempt at conquering mobile payment—a new Android Pay app that will power both in-app purchases and physical transactions in stores. Replacing the old Google Wallet app on mobile, Android Pay will become the universal payment solution in the Android ecosystem. Using tokenization and Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, as well as support for fingerprint authentication, Android Pay seems to work, quite frankly, just like Apple Pay. Unsurprisingly, it also comes with an API that will allow developers to incorporate payments into their apps.

Previously, Google has had a tough time getting major banks and credit card companies on board for their payment products, but things look different this time around. Retailers are eager to participate given the seamless integration of loyalty rewards, which Apple is likely to launch soon also. Three out of the four biggest wireless carriers in the states, save for Sprint, are among launch partners for Android Pay, along with all major credit card providers like Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and AmEx.

Besides an NFC chip and the more recent Android OS (KitKat or higher), making it usable on more than half of active Android phones. Given Android’s over 1 billion active users worldwide, it may just be what Google needs to catch up with Apple in mobile payments. It remains to be seen whether Android Pay adoption for in-store purchases will help Google attribute sales to prior ad views.

Meerkat Looks To Capture Android Users Before Periscope

Read original story on: Engadget

The saga of Meerkat v.s. Periscope continues as Meerkat launched a public beta test for its Android app last Thursday, looking to conquer the ecosystem before Periscope lands. Yet, with no specific launch date in sight for Meerkat, in addition to Twitter’s confirmation that Periscope is coming to Android “soon,” the race to capture Android users is still too early to call at this point. Yet this remains crucial in their ongoing fight to expand the scope of mobile live streaming.


Head image taken from

Why Car Manufacturers Need To Work With Tech Companies

Read original story on: New York Times

Toyota caused a stir in the connected car market when the company was quoted by the NY Times as saying that it currently has “no plans” to offer either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in its new models, despite being listed by Apple as an official CarPlay partner.

As more and more traditional OEM in-car equipment, such as GPS systems and CD players, are rapidly being replaced by newer, mobile-based substitutes, car buyers will understandably expect some compatibility with their mobile devices. Going against consumer behavior is not the best move for car manufacturers, especially when most seem to lack the technological expertise to develop an integrated and user-friendly in-car OS.

Why Samsung’s New Placedge Beacon Is A Big Deal

Read original story on: BEEKn

Samsung is launching its own beacon! The company has unveiled the Samsung Placedge Platform, which functions as a beacon-detecting uber-application that sits at the device layer, with no specific app required. A SDK has also been released to enable developers to create their own apps, allowing for more customized experiences.

This move by Samsung helps to reinforce that beacons aren’t an Apple-only thing. It also highlights the competition for access to consumer engagement happening in the hyperlocal space.

Messaging Apps Coming to Smartwatches

The vastly popular messaging app Whatsapp just released a beta update that offers support for Android Wear, extending its functionality beyond just receiving notifications on the smartwatch OS. New features introduced include stacked notification, complete preview of received messages and, most importantly, the ability to send and reply messages via voice-to-text dictation. By releasing this update, the Facebook-owned company becomes a pioneer in exploring messaging apps on wearable platforms, and more messaging apps can be expected to follow suit.

Google Will Close Android Wear Ecosystem

Last week’s Google I/O was an immense week for developers and followers of the Google brand alike; indeed, for those immersed in the world of wearables it was an especially big week, as several different types of watches and partnerships were announced at the conference. However, one announcement flew particularly under the radar: Google will not allow for third parties to create custom skins or smartwatch interfaces on the Android Wear ecosystem. This means that, essentially, what you see is what you get as far as interfaces ad layouts go. So far, the responses to this realization have been mixed, but it means that the smartwatch experience will be universalized across the Android platform; everyone will have the same, consistent user experience from the wrist to the television. 

Facebook Home Is Officially Dead

One year ago, Facebook wanted to take over the home screen of the smartphone with a platform known as Facebook Home – it would display Facebook photos on lock screens and provide seamless access to messages, status updates, and the rest of the network. Nevertheless, many users baulked at the total takeover by Facebook; many saw it as an attempt to usurp control, while others still simply preferred the native phone interface. Either way, it didn’t catch on, and now the team has disbanded at the Facebook headquarters. It points to the fact that users want to have control over customization on their screens; social networks trying to impose themselves over the mobile experience can’t claim the space just yet.