Google I/O 2015: Android M preview with Google Now on Tap

Google offered some insight into its next Android M at the I/O 2015 developer conference, and the upcoming OS sounds quite exciting.

At its Google I/O conference last year, the company previewed its Android L OS version, which later launched as Android 5.0 Lollipop. Google went for the same strategy this year as well, and this time it gave a glimpse into the upcoming Android M.

"Today at Google I/O, we announced a developer preview of the next version of Android, the M release. Last year's developer preview was a first for Android and we received great feedback. We want to continue to give you developers early access to Android so you have time to get your apps ready for the next version of Android. This time with the M Developer Preview, we will provide a clear timeline for testing and feedback plus more updates to the preview build," Google said on Thursday, May 28.

The company offered a first preview of Android M ahead of the OS release later this year, showing off some neat features and an upgraded version of Google Now, the digital assistant that's Android's answer to Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana.

Google's digital assistant will go to the next level with neat new functionality, allowing users to activate Google Now to find relevant information even when using another application. With this in mind, Google introduced "Now on Tap," which builds on existing Google Now capabilities to provide a better experience by allowing the digital assistant to work over third-party applications without requiring users to exit said apps.

"We're working to make Google Now a little smarter in the upcoming Android M release, so you can ask it to assist you with whatever you're doing-right in the moment, anywhere on your phone. With 'Now on tap,' you can simply tap and hold the home button for assistance without having to leave what you're doing-whether you're in an app or on a website. For example, if a friend emails you about seeing the new movie Tomorrowland, you can invoke Google Now without leaving your app, to quickly see the ratings, watch a trailer, or even buy tickets-then get right back to what you were doing," Google explains.

Google Now director Aparna Chennapragada demonstrated this capability by playing a song on Spotify, then asking aloud who was singing. Now on Tap immediately responded to the question by instantly displaying the artist's name, along with online information about him and the band.

"Google can show you apps from your phone that may help with what you're doing based on your context-IMDb for movie reviews, OpenTable for reservations, and many more. This is another way developers can get their apps in front of their users at the right moment, when an app is relevant to the task at hand. And best of all, developers don't need to do anything to integrate with Now on tap as long as they have their apps indexed by Google."

Google will offer additional information about this new functionality (and more) as it gets closer to the release of Android M, and we'll keep you up to date as soon as more details become available.

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