Google I/O began on Wednesday, June 25, marking the seventh annual conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif. The search engine giant uses the event to launch and promote its latest technology. Developers are able to sign up for software development kits (SDKs) at the show, and this year 5,000 eager participants were present.
During the two-day conference, Google set the tech world alight with several impressive new devices and design overhauls, all hinting at the future for businesses and the public alike. It’s a busy time for Google as this week also saw the launch of the divisive Google Glass, the wearable computer that received a beta run earlier in the year. Google will be eager to make Glass a success, and what is clear is the company is on a quest toward making technology seamless with modern life. Here’s how they intend to do it.
Key Google I/O Announcements
This year’s Google I/O was dominated by announcements involving Android. There were some intriguing developments from Google that hint at their business plan for the coming years. Here’s the lowdown on the key software and devices.
Android L and Material Design
Android L was, arguably, the biggest announcement of the show. A new theme has been used (which has been called Material Design), and there are major performance updates. There’s a new emphasis on advanced video games, improved battery life, a new style of notifications, and new identity options for security.
Google explained it this way: “[Material Design] uses tactile surfaces, bold graphic design, and fluid motion to create beautiful, intuitive experiences.” You can watch an official video here.
Android Wear is part of the potentially revolutionary smartwatch technology. If done correctly, this could be international hit with tremendous implications for businesses across the world. Although the technology won’t be as time consuming as smartphones, the “glanceable” nature of smartwatches will make for instanteous updates, which is in keeping with Google’s seamless take on technology.
Their site states, “Android Wear organizes your information, suggests what you need, and shows it to you before you even ask. Get messages from your friends, appointment notifications, and weather updates at a glance.” Most of its functions will be voice activated. For a look into what could be a future hit, visit the Android Wear site.
Android Auto will unite a smartphone owner with a compatible car. It’s a connected-car platform, and it will be voice operated: navigation, voice commands, and calls will come up on a car’s dashboard. There will be plenty of developers eager to develop for this; SDKs are now available, and a huge range of familiar car brands have already signed up. For full details visit here.
As Google state, “Android Auto automatically brings you useful information, and organizes it into simple cards that appear just when they’re needed.” Notable features include maps, music selection, voice controls, and an array of apps.
Chromecast launched last year, allowing gadget fans to cast music and streaming videos from the Internet to their TV. Android TV takes things a step further by combining live television, Android apps, and Google Play into one interactive experience.
Google has partnered up with Sony and Sharp for compatible TV sets; think of it as a rival for the likes of Netflix.
This is a free to use API (application programming interface) for Gmail which improves on the service. Up until now, Gmail could only be used in a browser or official app. Gmail API allows the thousands of apps out there to have access to Gmail (with permission), opening up new possibilities. This basically means your smartphone/computer apps will be able to work more effectively from now. This also means app developers will be able to utilise Gmail API for customers’ benefit in the future.
It was launched in its beta phase on the June 25. If you’d like to have a look at more details, head over to Google Developers.
Google Fit Platform
Finally, we have one of the big surprises: a health tracker that Google hopes will profit from the ongoing fitness industry craze. Software development kits are set to be available shortly, and developers will be flooding in to provide new apps for the service.
Noom, Nike, Adidas, and Motorola have already partnered up with Google, and as a niche platform it will challenge the many fitness apps already established.
Google Glass launched in the U.K. this week after a month on sale in the U.S. It’s been scrutinized closely by the media and technology industries — uncertainty hangs over its potential.
The device is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD – dangerously close to OMG!). It’s effectively a hands-free smartphone that is designed in an attempt to merge the Internet into day-to-day life. This is what smartphones do, but the idea is for Glass to be less intrusive — it should be a free-flowing, natural experience. Having not tried one yet, I’m unclear if this has been achieved.
Google state, “Glass isn’t technology for technology’s sake … Glass helps you get more out of what you love. Use Glass to take photos, find answers, get directions, and enhance your now with over 40 apps.” You can achieve this through the device’s impressive technical abilities:
- A fixed camera which can take photos and record 720p HD video.
- Voice command operated.
- Audio output comes from a “built-in bone conduction transducer” (not a fanciful technological term to confuse everyone — it’s the conduction of sound to the inner ear through the bones of the skull).
- It’s constantly online courtesy of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
- There is 12GB of memory (synced with Google Cloud).
- A micro USB.
- A battery life of around one day.
- A weight of 43g (1.51oz).
In the UK it’s retailed at £1,000, whilst the American version is around the $1,700 mark. It’s proven divisive to date due to a mixture of privacy and safety concerns, but if you’re interested, you can find out full details on Google’s official Glass site. There are also numerous demonstration videos on the their official YouTube account.