TIME Google

Google is Testing Hands-free Payments with McDonald’s and Papa Johns

Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014. Google Inc. executives are taking the stage this week to talk about a plethora of new technologies, including automobiles, home automation, digital TV, Web-connected devices and a new version of Android. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Sundar Pichai
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014.

The tech giant is testing an app that will let you pay at the store without pulling out your wallet or phone

Google is testing a futuristic way for shoppers to pay for what they buy without having to take out their wallet — or even their phones.

The technology, known as hands-free payments, is supposed to make paying in stores that much easier. All a customer has to do is download an app onto their phone. When checking out at a store, all they have to do is stand in front of the cash register and say their name to the cashier. A blue tooth sensor automatically detects whether they have the app and then bills them.

Google revealed the test Thursday at its annual developers conference in San Francisco. Fast food giant McDonald’s [fortune-stock symbol=”MCD”] and pizza chain Papa Johns [fortune-stock symbol=”PZZA”] have partnered with Google to experiment with the technology in the Bay Area.

Details about Google’s payment system are still fuzzy. The company emphasized that it is an experiment. It may rely on Bluetooth technology to sense that your mobile phone is nearby. Shoppers who make a purchase receive a notification on their phone about being billed.

The technology is just one of many ideas involving mobile payments, a particularly hot space in the tech industry. A number of companies like Apple [fortune-stock symbol=”AAPL”] are experimenting with different ways for consumers to pay using their phones under the theory that paying digitally is more convenient than using cash or credit cards.

Google [fortune-stock symbol=”GOOG”] isn’t the first company to tackle hands-free payments. Payments company Square introduced hands-free payments in 2011, but has since retired its consumer-facing app that included the feature. In 2013, PayPal premiered a similar technology using Beacon, a Bluetooth device retailers placed in their stores.

In addition to discussing hands-free payments, Google unveiled a new mobile payments wallet and platform on Thursday called Android Pay.

TIME Amazon

You May Soon Be Able to Buy Amazon-Branded Milk, Cereal and Baby Food

Inside The UPS Worldport Facility Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A package shipped from Amazon.com moves down a conveyor belt during the afternoon sort at the United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) Worldport facility in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

The e-commerce leader is planning to add food to its fledgling line up of house labels, a move that seeks to capitalize on customers' growing acceptance of store brands and its grocery delivery service.

Amazon.com is getting ready to take its fight with the likes of Costco Wholesale, Target and Walmart deeper into the grocery aisles.

The online retailer is planning to expand its private label lineup into groceries like milk, cereal, and baby food, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The newspaper also reported that Amazon filed for trademark protection in early May for more than two dozen categories under its existing Elements brand including coffee, soup, pasta as well as household products like razor blades and cleaning products.

Amazon has approached some private-label food manufacturers to partner including TreeHouse Foods, a major player, according to the Journal’s report. Amazon did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment.

The foray into private-label grocery comes as food is becoming ever-bigger business for major retailers. Groceries can bring higher profit margins despite the lower retail prices some retailers charge because the companies save on the marketing costs.

Such in-house brands are also finding more acceptance with customers, many of whom are increasingly looking for bargains and are more open to buying store brands. A case in point is Costco’s Kirkland brand, which generates $15 billion in sales from coffee, chicken breasts, and cleaning products.

Amazon’s Elements portfolio began last year with diapers, which it has since dropped, and baby wipes that are sold exclusively to members of its Prime subscription service. Among other things, Prime offers unlimited same-day delivery in certain markets and two-day shipping — all for a $99 annual fee.

This would be Amazon’s first try at selling its own line of food, a far more complex business than some of its other private label products because of food safety issues. And Amazon would be going up against experienced competitors that have plans to improve their own brands. Target’s Archer Farms, for one, will undergo an overhaul in the next year.

Still, the move makes sense for Amazon as it looks to capitalize on and built out its Fresh grocery delivery.

TIME technology

Steve Wozniak Is Getting a Wax Figure at Madame Tussauds

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, speaks onstage during the National Geographic Channel's 'American Genius' panel at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on Jan. 7, 2015 in Pasadena, California.
Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, speaks onstage during the National Geographic Channel's 'American Genius' panel at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on Jan. 7, 2015 in Pasadena, California.

And it'll be right next to Steve Jobs'

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is getting immortalized in wax. Madame Tussauds in San Francisco announced this week the inventor will be the next techie to get the wax treatment, joining the likes of Apple’s Steve Jobs and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

In a statement, Wozniak said he is “incredibly excited” to be added to the San Francisco location and equally thrilled that he’ll be placed next to his former partner.

“I remember visiting the London Museum as a kid,” Wozniak said. “I can’t wait to see my figure next to Jobs—it’ll be just like old times.”

According to Madame Tussauds, now the fun part begins. Wozniak will have to sit for 2 to 3 hours and have 250 measurements taken to ensure his figure’s accuracy. It takes about three to four months to complete the process, after which Wozniak will appear at his sculpture’s release for a side-by-side comparison.

TIME Google

The 4 Biggest Things Google Announced Today

Android lovers, this is your Christmas

At its annual I/O developers conference Thursday, talk unsurprisingly centered on the company’s Android mobile operating system.

While the company didn’t have any super-surprising reveals, Google’s product roadmap indicates that Android is only going to become more versatile as it enters sectors such as commerce and the smart home. Google is also become more skilled at tying together its disparate services into a single, pleasing user experience, as evinced by the expanded focus on Google Now.

Here’s a quick roundup of the four biggest new announcements Google made Thursday:

Google Now gets even smarter

Google’s sophisticated digital assistant Google Now already offers up curated news, trip reminders, suggested travel routes and other info to make daily life easier. Now the company is expanding its functionality across multiple apps with Now on Tap. When using apps such as music players and email clients, users can simply press the home button or ask Google a question verbally to get context-sensitive answers based on what’s on screen (if your significant other texts you to ask you to pick up laundry, for example, Now on Tap will suggest adding a reminder to your calendar). The new features could give Now a leg up against Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Android Pay looks a whole lot like Apple Pay

After years of tepid response to Google Wallet, the company is taking another shot at mobile payments with Android Pay. The new platform, available later this year in the U.S., will let users load their credit card information onto their phones and then use their phones to pay at physical retailers. The functionality is very similar to Apple Pay, which quickly managed to make a bigger splash than Google Wallet ever did. Android Pay will be available at 700,000 retail stores, including Whole Foods, Macy’s and Walgreens.

A new photo app with unlimited storage

Photo storage and organization was one of the best features of Google+. Now Google is bringing that strength to all its users with a new standalone app, Google Photos. Users of the app, available on Android, iOS and the web, will have unlimited photo and video storage. The revamped service also boasts some impressive search features. Users can search by location, objects in the photo (boats, for instance) or even by face. The updated apps rolled out on Thursday.

A new OS for the Internet of Things

Given that Google shelled out billions for smart thermostat company Nest, it’s no surprise that the company is making a power play to control the living room. The company announced Project Brillo, an Android-powered operating system for connected devices, as well as Weave, a common language to let connected Brillo devices communicate. Brillo will support both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, giving developers multiple ways to let users connect.

TIME Google

Google Is Bringing Virtual Reality to the Classroom

Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014. Google Inc. executives are taking the stage this week to talk about a plethora of new technologies, including automobiles, home automation, digital TV, Web-connected devices and a new version of Android. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Sundar Pichai
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014.

Super-cheap VR has found a home

In 2014, Google made a virtual reality viewer out of cardboard. In 2015, it’s turning it into a teaching tool for school classrooms.

The Google Cardboard headset, which is mostly made out of cardboard and works with Android phones and special apps, turned out to be a hit beyond just a gimmick at the company’s developer conference last year. Clay Bavor, Google vice president of product management said on-stage at this year’s Google I/O conference Thursday that it’s shipped more than 1 million cardboard headsets in the past year. There are also hundreds of cardboard-compatible apps in Google’s app store.

But now, Google is bringing is cheap and easy set to the classroom, helping teachers take their students on virtual field trips with Cardboard units, mobile devices, and software.

Dubbed “Expeditions,” Google’s program is partnering with organizations such as the Planetary Society and the American Museum of Natural History for content. Through Expeditions, teachers will receive a kit for their classrooms which will include cardboard viewers for each student, Android phones, a tablet, and pre-installed software that will keep all the viewers synced together. All the teacher has to do is get the virtual field trip going on their device to send the whole class on a trip together.

Bavor also said Google is releasing a new version of its cardboard viewer, which will now support phones with 6-inch displays and all Android phone models (it previously only fit certain ones). It will also only require three steps to assemble instead of 12.

TIME Uber

Here’s Uber’s Plan for a New Sci-fi Headquarters

Photo courtesy of Uber

Fast-growing company will be moving into fancy new offices

Ride sharing service Uber is planning a fancy new headquarters to go with its recent stratospheric $50 billion valuation.

Futuristic buildings will be connected by glass walkways, according to designs recently released by the company.

The new headquarters, located in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, is expected to open by late 2017 or early 2018, according to Quartz. It will be comprised of a six-story building at 1515 Third St. as well as an 11-story building at 1455 Third St.

The buildings were designed by Shop Architects PC, a New York City firm. The structures measure approximately 423,000 square feet, which the San Francisco Chronicle reported last year will triple Uber’s footprint in the city.

Business software giant Salesforce previously occupied the space.

It will be the eighth move for Uber, according to the Chronicle.

Here are a couple more images of the designs:

Uber headquarters
Photo courtesy of Uber
Uber headquarters 3
Photo courtesy of Uber

 

TIME Google

Finally, You Can Get Your Google Maps Directions Anytime

Google Maps Returns To Apple's iPhone
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

No wireless connection needed

You know those annoying moments when your phone goes offline and you can’t get directions to where you’re going? And it’s always at the least opportune moments?

Good news: That will soon be a thing of the past.

On Thursday, Google announced at its annual developers in San Francisco that turn-by-turn directions would soon be available — even without a data connection. All you have to do is save the route while you’re connected and the directions will be there when you need them.

Also, because GPS doesn’t need LTE coverage, it can still track where you are on your route and estimate the time remaining for your trip.

That will be especially game-changing in communities where fast, reliable wireless infrastructure is spotty. It’s one of many offline improvements Google announced at this year’s conference, including saving search results in Chrome and videos from YouTube.

TIME Google

This Is Google’s Plan for Internet-Connected Everything

Google senior vice president of product Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address during the 2015 Google I/O conference on May 28, 2015 in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Google senior vice president of product Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address during the 2015 Google I/O conference on May 28, 2015 in San Francisco.

Meet 'Project Brillo'

Google announced its planned software for the Internet of things and it’s a pretty nice shot at all the major players trying to horn in on the space while taking advantage of Google’s dominance in the mobile operating system arena today.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Chrome and App, said the company developed Brillo, a stripped down version of Android that will run on battery-powered connected devices and Weave, a communications standard that will let developers build programs that allow these connected devices to communication.

Brillo will support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and because it was developed with some input from Nest, although it is not part of the Nest business, Brillo developers at Google may support alternative wireless radio protocols such as Thread.

This is not a new approach to the Internet of things. What Google is doing is building an operating system that device manufacturers can put on their devices to ease the process of getting a device online, manage the connectivity and many of the lower-level hardware functions that manufacturers don’t want to deal with. I’ve covered some of the reasons behind Brillo in a previous story, here.

The other part of Google’s Internet of things strategy is the inclusion of a communications standard called Weave, which will define certain devices and what they can do. So for example, a camera can be turned on or off. Pichai didn’t go into a lot of detail about Weave. He didd say that it Weave is cross platform, and it exposes developer application programming interfaces, which is a plus for people trying to link their cloud-based services to devices communicating with Weave.

Weave is not a separate protocol, but rather a lightweight schema developers can use. In function it reminds me of what the All Seen Alliance is pushing with AllJoyn and the Open Internet Consortium is trying to do with Iotivity. However, both of those are protocols and it’s not yet clear how all three would compare and contrast for developers.

Pichai also noted that any device running Brillo and Weave will be able to talk to other Android devices, which means that when these are fully implemented the scenario should look similar to what Apple is trying to do with HomeKit—only Google was careful to keep the scope of its efforts at a larger scale. Pichai mentioned the smart home, but also farmers and other use cases. This would give manufacturers of connected devices a reason to use Brillo and weaved over alternatives, because there’s an embedded base of devices that already would talk to them and it makes it much easier to build services that could tie all of the myriad devices together.

Brillo will be available in the third quarter of the year, while Weave will be available in the fourth quarter in its full entirety. Pichai said we can expect bits of Weave information to come out before then.

TIME Google

Google’s Best App Just Got Better

Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014. Google Inc. executives are taking the stage this week to talk about a plethora of new technologies, including automobiles, home automation, digital TV, Web-connected devices and a new version of Android. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Sundar Pichai
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014.

Google Now is expanding its context-sensitive suggestions across multiple apps

Google is looking to expand the functionality of its sophisticated digital assistant Google Now.

A new functionality called Now on Tap, announced Thursday at Google’s annual I/O developers conference, will bring Now’s context-sensitive information and suggestions to many of the apps users commonly open on their Android devices.

Google showed off the versatility of Now on Tap in a series of demos. While listening to Skrillex in a music player, a Googler asked, “OK Google, what’s his real name?” and Now on Tap was able to use the context of the open app to immediately recognize that the user was referring to Skrillex and serve the correct answer (Sonny John Moore). In another example, when a person received a series of text messages suggesting dinner at a nearby restaurant and a request to pick up drying cleaning, Now on Tap was able to scan the contents of the messages to pull up info about the restaurant and offer to set a reminder about a dry cleaning. In a third example, as a user was reading an email that mentioned the movie Tomorrowland, they were able to bring up an info card with the movie’s trailers, review scores and cast list immediately available by simply pressing the phone’s home button.

Google Now has quickly become a large focus of the search giant, as it leverages many of the company’s strengths (trawling the web for facts and providing accurate navigation info, for instance) to create a streamlined user experience. Apple is rumored to be working on a similar service, code-named Proactive.

TIME Google

Google’s Secret to Doubling Your Phone’s Battery Life

An attendee takes a photograph prior to the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014. Google Inc. executives are taking the stage this week to talk about a plethora of new technologies, including automobiles, home automation, digital TV, Web-connected devices and a new version of Android. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP An attendee takes a photograph prior to the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014.

New version of Android shuts down processes in certain apps to stem battery drain

Google is aiming to give your phones and tablets a little more juice to make it through the day without dying.

At its annual I/O developers conference Thursday, the company announced a new power-conservation feature in its upcoming mobile operating system Android M. Called “Doze,” the new feature uses motion sensors to detect when a device hasn’t been moved for an extended period. Android will then automatically shut down processes for certain power-hogging apps, which should significantly extend the device’s battery life.

When testing the feature, Google said a Nexus 9 tablet running Doze on Android M had a battery life twice as long as the same device using the older Android L operating system.

The new feature won’t turn your phone into a total paperweight. Users will still be alerted to alarms and high-priority messages even when the phone or tablet is dozing.

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