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 in the quest to make their technology indispensable.
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 Thursday 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.
The annual changes to Android and iOS are becoming increasingly important as people become more dependent on smartphones to manage their lives. Android holds about an 80 percent share of the worldwide smartphone market, with iOS a distant second at 16 percent, according to the research firm International Data Corp.
Both Google and Apple are vying to make their products even more ubiquitous by transplanting much of their mobile technology into automobiles and Internet-connected televisions and appliances. Google hopes to play a prominent role in the management of home security and appliances with a new operating system called Brillo that will interact with Android devices.
Here's a closer look at some of the key features in the upcoming Android upgrade, currently known simply as “M'':