Google Releases Text API, New Cast SDK for Android

Google has begun to follow up some of the announcements it made at last month's I/O developer conference with real-world coding tools. The company says it has improved Mobile Vision in a revised version of Google Play Services, which gains a new API for text recognition. Further, the company outed a revised SDK for its Google Cast tech for pushing content from phones to TVs and other media players. 

First, Google announced the Text API, a component for Android Mobile Vision. Google says the optical character recognition technology within the API can read Latin character text in photos and then return the embedded text with formatting intact. The Text API allows developers to create apps that can organize photos based on the text pictured therein; automate data entry, such as credit/business card details; translate documents; track numbers; and make accessibility functions more widely available. In order to spur creatvitiy, Google set up a codelab to help Android developers add text recognition to their apps "in under an hour." The Text API runs locally on mobile devices, making it suitable for real-tiem applications. More info is available here.

Second, Google repaired the Mobile Vision operation for Android. Google Play Services 9.2 corrects an error in Play Services 9.0 that broke the ability to find objects within photos and videos. Play Services 9.2 also resolves a download issue that caused a service outage. In other words, Android Mobile Vision is up and running again fully. 

Third, Google released version 3 of the Google Cast API, which incorporates announcements made at I/O. The purpose behind redesigning this SDK was to simplify the process of adding cast capabilities to mobile apps for Android and iOS. Cast (formerly called Chromecast) allows smartphones, laptops, and tablets to push content -- such as YouTube videos -- to cast-enabled media players, like a TV set. 

Google says the new SDK makes it quicker to develop for Cast. The SDK is more reliable and easier to maintain, and Google included some introductory code, full documentation, and some reference apps to help get you going. 

"We’ve introduced full state management that helps you implement the right abstraction between your app and Google Cast. We’ve also delivered a full Cast User Experience, matching the Google Cast design checklist," said Google in a blog post. "Initial developer feedback is that first-time implementations can save significant development time compared with our previous SDKs."

Google said more of the I/O announcements will arrive to the Cast SDK in the next few months. For example, it plans to add a customizable Expanded Controller, as well as customization for the Mini Controller to speed development. More information is available here.

Be sure to read the next Mobile article: Apple Embraces Extensions in macOS, iOS 10