The launch of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, earlier this week appears to have opened the floodgates for a wide range of new apps and initiatives.
Since the OS rollout began on Monday, the company has also announced a new mobile publishing initiative called AMP, support for in-app translation and even a space launch contract for one of its Google Lunar Prize teams.
AMP, which stands for "Accelerated Mobile Pages," was unveiled this morning at an event in New York. Google's answer to Facebook's Instant Articles and Apple's Apple News, the AMP project already has a large number of international partners, including The New York Times, the UK's Guardian, Germany's Zeit Online and Brazil's Editora Abril.
Aimed at enhancing news delivery and reading on the mobile Web, AMP enables publishers to optimize their content once and "have it load instantly everywhere," according to Google. Built on an open source platform, AMP files work like regular HTML pages but rely on a more limited set of technical functions that "prioritize speed to provide a faster experience for users," the project's FAQ stated.
AMP an 'Open-Ecosystem' Alternative
While AMP is currently available only as a developer preview, users can see a demo of the project in action in at g.co/ampdemo. The demo pages feature content from "a limited set of participating publishers," including The New York Times, and more topics such as Mars, Syria and fashion, according to a blog post by Google software engineer Daniel Rocha.
Google cited research from the Mountain View, California-based Web performance testing company Soasta that found a one-second improvement in mobile Web page loading could boost customer conversion rates by up to 27 percent. In the case of one online retailer that Soasta tested, conversion rates hit a peak of 1.9 percent for mobile pages loading in 2.4 seconds, after which rates began dropping dramatically.
With a growing number of people accessing content via the mobile Web, some publishers have tried to speed up content delivery with platform-specific solutions. Such alternatives, though, are "placing a burden on the publishers to support this fragmentation of formats and closing off the ecosystem," Google's FAQ stated.
"Since AMP HTML is built on existing Web technologies, and not a template-based system, publishers continue to host their own content, innovate on their user experiences, and flexibly integrate their advertising and business models -- all within a technical architecture optimized for speed and performance," according to the FAQ.
Unlike the news services offered through select partnerships with Facebook and Apple, Google noted that AMP will be "open to all players in the ecosystem."
Meter, Translate and a Moon Launch
Another new development from Google this week includes the debut of Meter, a Google Creative Labs creation that's available at the Play Store and turns an Android device's wallpaper into "a live dashboard, displaying real-time statistics such as app usage, missed calls, and battery level."
Yesterday, the company also announced that devices running the new Marshmallow mobile OS will support Google Translate in other apps such as LinkedIn, TripAdvisor and WhatsApp. Translation capabilities for 90 languages will become available beginning this week.
Google also revealed today that a team of Israel-based engineers participating in the company's competition to send an unmanned spacecraft to the Moon has won a verified launch contract through Elon Musk's SpaceX business. The engineers in Team SpaceIL will be able to send their spacecraft to the moon in 2017 using a specially designed capsule attached to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.