Google Updates: Android N set for May and Pope set to Schmidt (not in the woods)

GOOGLE NEWS is starting trickle out after a quiet start to the year, so let's have at it.

The big hairy deal of the week is the announcement that this year's Google I/O will run from 18 to 20 May and it's more than likely that it'll be that weekend when we get to see exactly what Android N (Nougat? Nutella? Natural Yoghurt with Honey?) has in store. We're expecting multi-window and better Chrome integration to be at the top of the list.

Google how-is-that-still-a-thing? Plus has had a major fix for its Android app which undoes all the bugs and glitches introduced when Photos was removed from the main app. That's 70 bugs and 14 accessibility problems. It's surprising that anyone has hung around that long to see it happen. What? You mean they haven't?

In the 'not sure where that idea came from' file, Google Now has a new trick up its sleeve. Yes, Siri can beatbox badly, but Google can teach you yoga. In addition there are now two new search parameters. As well as referring to recent searches, there's also 'What's Hot' for popular searches and 'Nearby' for, well, you can figure that bit out.

Also, if you're using the Google Now Launcher you'll be delighted to hear that it now actually makes icons appear to be all the same size rather than a mishmash of every developer's designs that leaves your app screen looking like something out of a Escher painting.

It's just been announced that Eric Schmidt, CEO of Alphabet, is getting an audience with the Pope next month. We wonder whether His Holiness is having problems getting Angry Birds Go to work on his Nexus 6P.

Google Cardboard has, up to now, been little more than a joke that went too far. But its popularity spawned a whole bunch of really good quality copycat headsets, and at Google I/O last year we started to see how Google planned to use the tech in education. Now it's decided to get serious with the formation of a proper VR division. Watch out Oculus.

Google Maps has been given even more contextual functionality with the arrival of an information spread based on where you are, where you've been and therefore where it thinks you're likely to go. It can show snarl-ups delaying traffic, en route petrol prices and alternative routes, all of which it could do before but now does without you having to press anything. It knows. Be afraid.

Away from your desk, we discovered recently that Google's self-driving cars aren't quite as ready for the public as we thought. According to the records, 13 accidents were prevented last year by human intervention, and there were another 27 near misses. So perhaps it's a little too early to be planning on going driverless round the Champs-lyses at rush hour.

Finally, we may have mentioned a little thing called Remix OS, which brings Android to desktop computers. It's now available as an alpha for all x86 machines.

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