Google I/O 2015 is officially underway, and the average user could be forgiven for taking the event's opening keynote as an opportunity for a two-hour nap. Amidst the heavy focus on back-end programming, there were a few announcements about consumer-oriented features that you may have missed. Google has promised improvements for Chromecast, Maps, YouTube, the Play Store and email, and they all sound at least marginally useful.
Chromecast, Google's cheap streaming media stick, will get upgrades to both its video and gaming capabilities. First and foremost, Google has released tools to let services queue up multiple videos in a row, as Netflix currently does when you binge-watch a season. Gaming improvements target multiplayer and second-screen experiences. Upcoming games will be able to tie multiple phones into the same game onscreen, or use the phone as a complement to an onscreen display (like a map in a dungeon crawler).
Even in high-service areas, you won't always have access to the Internet, which is where Google's new offline features might come in handy. Users will now be able to access Maps offline (based on its cache of your most recently accessed location) and even use it for turn-by-turn directions. YouTube will also provide offline functionality, letting users cache videos for up to 48 hours.
The Google Play Store, meanwhile, is getting a decidedly family-friendly upgrade. A new area of the Play Store will highlight apps and games specifically with a young audience in mind. Better still, kids and their parents can now navigate by property or character. Rather than sifting through the store for content based on Star Wars or Dora the Explorer, a single tap of an icon will take you to a whole area of the store dedicated to kid-friendly content based on the property or character.
Google Inbox, a once invite-only email service, is now open to anyone who wants to try its new, innovative features. Undo Send is exactly what it sounds like, giving users a brief window to unsend ill-advised emails before the recipient can read them. Of potential use to travelers is Trip Bundles, which automatically collects all emails related to an upcoming trip and presents them in one convenient place.
Some features, like the Inbox tweaks, are available now; others, like the Chromecast updates, will only appear if developers take advantage of them. Either way, expect to see most of what Google announced show up sooner rather than later.