At a Glance: Google’s newest tools, gadgets and services

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — A new virtual-reality system from Google and a way to use Android apps without downloading Android apps are among the highlights at the company’s annual developer showcase in Mountain View, California.

Google also unveiled new messaging apps, a smart-home device and a contest: It wants users to suggest names for its next Android system, currently known as N.

Here’s a summary of some of Google’s announcements Wednesday:

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DAYDREAM

It’s a virtual-reality system designed for what Google calls “high quality” VR experiences on Android smartphones. Manufacturers including Samsung, HTC and Huawei will have smartphones capable of handling it this fall, according to Google. The platform, included in its upcoming Android N operating system, is meant to improve upon the Cardboard headset it launched two years ago by making VR experiences that are more comfortable and immersive.

Google is also circulating guidelines for manufacturers to make Daydream VR headsets and a motion-sensing remote that can be used like a steering wheel or a fishing rod.

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ANDROID INSTANT APPS

Designed to fix the pain from downloading an app you will use only once, Instant Apps run on Google’s servers instead of your phone. Only the parts you need get sent to your phone. If it works as Google envisions, without lags and other annoyances, users won’t have to spend a few minutes downloading and installing that app and having it take up valuable space on the phone.

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GOOGLE HOME

Following in Amazon’s footsteps, Google is unveiling a smart-home assistant that lets people listen to music and podcasts, as well as manage tasks such as setting alarms and compiling shopping lists, throughout their home. The Internet-connected device lets users control it with their voice.

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MESSAGING

Allo is a new, “smart” messaging app that lets you text without typing and message without actually having any friends. It features the Google Assistant, which lets you find information and get things done by chatting with Google’s computers. You can search, book reservations or play a game. For example, text “is my flight delayed?” to get information about your flight status.

Allo also features what Google calls “smart reply,” which learns how you text and shows suggestions “in your style.” So you can tap “haha” or “go away” without typing anything. It also gives users an array of emojis and stickers and the option to increase or decrease the size of text to add emphasis.

A video-calling companion called Duo features “Knock Knock.” You see who is knocking at your digital door, in the form of a live video stream of a caller who wants to start a video call with you. You can decide whether to pick up based on their expression and environment.

Associated Press
Republished with permission from Associated Press
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