Google I/O is the annual developer conference where Google talks about its services and the planned roadmap ahead. The opening keynote usually encompasses all that is new and upcoming in the world of Android, Chrome and Google Cloud. So, in case you missed out on watching the 2 hour plus keynote, here are the major announcements from the Google I/O 2014 thus far:
Android L is the next major Android update
While the world was busy guessing from laddoos to lollypop, Google played its subtle cards at the I/O, choosing to call the next major Android update, rather boringly, Android L. Android L is a visual overhaul from KitKat with all new material design which focuses on big typography, colorful UI experiences with heavy animations and 3D like perspective giving depth to the visual elements. The material design will extend up to web apps, apps for wearables as well as Android in order to give the customers a more immersive experience. This a major shift from the flat UI that Google had so far advocated with Android 4.4. It is not clear whether this Android version will be called Android 5.0 or Android 4.5, but you would be able to install developer preview version on your Nexus Android devices, starting today.
The system wide redesign sees new on screen keys as well as a set of at least 5000 new APIs. Android L will come with a new Active Interactive Notifications on lockscreen which would be grouped based on the most used applications instead of just the chronological order of them being received. There is also Heads Up Notifications, that allows you to continue playing games or running apps without the notifications like those of an incoming call disturbing you. The notifications do not get in the way of your experience and can be swiped away from the top of the screen easily.
Google also announced personal unlocking, by which your device will automatically allow you to bypass the passcode if it detects a familiar device such as your bluetooth connected watch or home Wifi, saving you the pain of entering the passcodes. The new material design will also extend across to the mobile web experience allowing you a better search experience with in built option to launch apps from relevant search results. The multitasking has been overhauled with a card like UI with each search and tab, making up for a new tab. There is a redesigned keyboard, a new DND feature as well as an inbuilt power saver mode within Android L.
Android L also sees full time adoption of ART compiler meaning a faster and a more secure performance. It is 64 bit compatible and offers improved graphics, battery life as well as enhanced security. You have a factory reset protection in built which allows you to remotely wipe your device in case you are a victim of a stolen device.
Android One is the new low cost Android line of devices
Google announced Android One, a new line of smartphones that will be built keeping in mind the market requirements of the developing world. The Android One line will debut from India with the three big partners being Micromax, Karbonn and Spice. The devices will have stellar hardware configurations, feature native and pure Android experience and will have full update support directly from Google. Google is holding talks with the carriers for subsidized versions of these devices too, but announced that these devices will be in the range of $100, which is approximately Rs 6,000.
Sundar Pichai, the SVP of Google who oversees Android and Chrome divisions, did give us a peek at the Micromax Android One device which will have a 4.5 inch screen, dual sim support, FM radio player as well as a swappable Micro SD card.
Android Wearables are coming and they are coming soon
As it was expected, Google announced three Android Wear watches at the I/O. The Motorola 360 is expected to be launched in the summer of 2014, but the Samsung Live and LG’s G watch can be ordered starting today. The Gear Live is Samsung’s first smartwatch to run Google’s OS with all its smartwatches being based on Tizen so far. It will sell for $199.99 and be available in July. Both the LG G watch and the Gear Live have rectangular dials, though Google did encourage developers and its hardware partners alike to work on the round dial options too. Google gave us a live demo of the watches, and there was nothing here that we did not know.
Vertically scrolling through the watch gives you the content which is contextually relevant such as notifications from your smartphone, Google Now, apps for smartwatch etc. The smartwatch indicates if there is more information to view, and hence you can swipe from to right for it. You can set reminders, take or reject calls and set a Do Not Disturb mode directly on the watch itself. Google did show the broad selection of type faces that the watches will come with. Not just this, Google made the full SDK of the Android Wear available in order to encourage developers to bring more and more of their apps to the smartwatch world.
Android is going to be in cars too
Another major announcement at the I/O was Android Auto, which is basically an Android experience on the main screen of your car when connected via your smartphone. There are live maps, voice search as well as full integration of your Google Play library for a safer and a fun filled drive.
You can respond to the text messages as well as search for the destinations you may want to drive to using Android Auto. Google made the Android Auto SDK available to all users as well as some important APIs for audio and messaging functionalities. With several new partners on board, Google does have a tough competition in this vertical with Apple tieing up with major players in the automobile industry to use the Siri and iOS based carplay out of the factory.
Android TV is how Google wants you to watch TV
After months of speculations, Google made the Android TV official at Google I/O. The software can run either on a set top box or on a television natively. The UI of Android TV is extremely simple and plain. You can use your smartphone which will have the Android TV app to navigate within the interface.
You have neat cards of the shows that you watch on the top, followed by the set of apps and games. As expected, Google has tightly integrated search within the UI, so you can search for your favorite movies or series, purchase them from Play Movies app and watch them live. The playback continues in the background, even if you are scrolling through the UI looking for newer stuff to watch.
Chromecast turns your TV into a massive photo frame
Google announced a media streaming dongle called Chromecast last July. Since then it has become the most popular way to stream your media over the internet to your television wirelessly. At the I/O Google announced a couple of new interesting features to Chromecast. You can now enjoy casting videos without even being connected to the Wi-Fi. Your device will automatically detect the nearest Chromecast and stream content without you having to be on the same Wifi network.
A feature called Backdrop would now stream your favorite images to your television too, making use of the time when the TV is idle. Some of the more recent devices like the Galaxy S5, HTC M8 and the Nexus 5 can also be mirrored using Chromecast.
Chromebooks will be able to play Android apps and show notifications from your phone
Sundar Pichai demonstrated that Chromebooks would now be able to run native Android applications without a hiccup on your Chromebook and seamlessly sync your data across both the devices. you will also receive notifications from your phone, for example, of a text or a call on your Chromebook.
Chromebooks would also unlock without the need of the passcode as well as sign you in to the required applications if it detects your Android phone nearby saving you the hassle and time of doing things manually.
Google Wants you to take Android to Office
Several announcements indicated that Google wants to make a big move in to the enterprise space. You will be able to now store both the enterprise as well as personal applications on your smartphone. The data will be treated in isolation for both the cases making sure there is no mix up.
Native editing of Office apps within Google drive was announced too, which is a massive thing if you judiciously use drive. No more will your .docx files be converted to google drive files when you attempt to edit an office attachment. You also have live suggested edits as well as a stand alone Google Sheets apps for your presentations.
Images via: The Verge