Google's next version of its Android operating system will boast new ways to fetch information, pay merchants, and protect privacy on mobile devices as the Internet company duels with Apple for supremacy. The upgrade will give Android's personal assistant, Google Now, expanded powers of intuition that may be greeted as a great convenience to some and a tad too creepy for others. Most of the renovations unveiled today at Google's annual developers' conference won't be available until late summer or early fall, around the same time that Apple is expected to release the latest overhaul of the iOS software that powers the iPhone and iPad. Some highlights of the upgrade, currently known simply as "M":
- Android Pay: This will replace Google Wallet for making mobile purchases in stores and applications. Google Wallet, which came out in 2011, will still work for sending payments from one person to another. Like Apple's system, Android Pay can be used to store major credit and debit cards in smartphones that can be used to pay merchants equipped with terminals that work with the technology.
- Now on Tap: Google Now currently learns a user's interests and habits by analyzing search requests and scanning emails. With the upgrade, users will be able to summon Google Now to scan whatever content might be on a mobile device's screen so it can present pertinent information about the topic of a text, a song, a video clip, or an article.
- Privacy: Android M will be compatible with fingerprint scanners so users can verify their identities by pressing a button instead of entering a passcode. The upgrade also will make it easier to users to prevent mobile applications from grabbing their personal information.
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