We were excited to see what Google had in store at its conference this year. Held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the stage was set for Google to try and set the bar higher in this rapidly evolving era of technology. Now with over 1 billion active users, Android for a long time was playing catch up to Apple’s iPhone-dominate mobile market. As these companies begin to bring their presence outside of mobile phones and into wearables, vehicles, and even your home, picking a side might be more important then ever.
There were numerous announcements this year at the keynote, but here are some of the larger highlights Google has planned in the near future.
By far the biggest announcement was a new version of Android, codenamed Android “L.” It’s soon to be announced as a sweet treat following the rest of Google’s line of operating systems. Implementing Material Design (flatter look with rounder elements) across more of its apps, Android L offers up a more dramatic update and fresh UI. Going beyond tablets and phones, the look and feel will bleed into Google Chrome and the rest of Google’s web services. Outside of the new UI overhaul, there were a handful of new features announced. In Android “L” you’ll now be able to respond and react to notifications straight from your lock screen. Quickly swipe them away, or double click to hop straight into the specific app. “Trusted Environments” is a new security feature that provides a new level of interactive security based around proximity with other devices. Integration with Chrome and web was a highlight. You’ll now be able to access your Android apps straight from your desktop. On a deeper level, ART runtime is geared towards making apps launch much quicker and run much faster. The overall focus with Android “L” is being the one OS to run on across all your devices, creating a universal experience as technology grows outside of our fingertips.
As “smart” watches become a leading trend in technology, Android Wear looks to bring a consistent experience to the watch landscape. Focused on quick and smart information in any given moment, you’ll be able to navigate through notifications, reminders, music controls, alarms, a heart rate monitor, and of course Google search right from the get go. With some large developers on board, the sky’s the limit for support of third party apps on Android Wear. The fact that you can do most of these actions through voice activation makes Android Wear a nice supplement to our everyday activities. Google launched two models this week, LG G and a model from Samsung. The Motorola 360 launching later this year is the standout from the group and is going to set the bar for Android Wear.
Android in the vehicle hopes to seamlessly offer the same OS mobile experience, but in your car and hands-free. You’ll be able to “cast” your phone’s screen to the display in your car, which is going to work with the rest of the dials and buttons in the vehicle. Listening to your playlist before leaving the house? Android auto will let you instantly play that same playlist in your vehicle. Just like Android Wear, Google is leaning on developers to create a variety of useful, fun, and creative apps for your driving experience.
Reminiscent of an Apple TV mixed with Google’s own Chromecast. You will still be able to broadcast, but also have access to a variety of apps. Using a simple grid landscape, Android TV includes popular apps and games. Google still is the dominant search engine, so search and information is simply accessed through Android TV. Just like the rest of Android, the future of Android TV likes on some success of third party development. This is Google’s best shot at owning your living room.
Project Volta: A game changer in longer mobile battery life.
Google Fit: A fitness-tracking app.
Google VR: A make-shift cardboard virtual reality.
Overall Google had a plethora of announcements this week at I/O. The common theme here is leading the innovation outside of phones and tablets. The competition is ramping up, and tech companies are now gearing up for a full-on assault of technology in our lives.