Once again the team at Google took the stage and showed off a plethora of new features for the google brand. This year, the focus was heavily rested on synchronizing your devices while giving the whole experience flair.
Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Google took the stage and began streaming crowds from various parts of the globe. “We are living in amazing times.” he proclaimed.
The ball started rolling with the usual charts about growth and sales and how “astonishing the success is”. Android has 1 billion 30-day active users. 20 billion text messages are sent every day. Of course there are still billions of people the world over without these devices. Googles answer: Android One.
Android One is a new initiative to put high quality, affordable smartphones in the hands of the billions of people who do not have them. Android One smartphones will be devices specialized for the needs and interests of geographic regions that do not regularly purchase smartphones.
All Android One devices come default with:
- Stock Android
- Play auto installs
- Automatic updates
As an example shown, one device aimed at an Indian market has dual sim, removable SD cards, an FM radio and costs less than $100.
The biggest news of this conference, and the over arching subject of the entire presentation was the L Developer Preview. Coming with 5 thousand new API’s, and form factors beyond mobile in mind, we will be able to see a more developer friendly Google atmosphere. One where multiple tools, both for convenience and flair, will be available to developers of apps. One such tool, Material Design, would be featured on stage.
Matias Duarte, Vice President Of Design talked about L design crossing Android, Chrome, and all of google for mobile, desktop and beyond (such as smart watches). He then asked a very thought provoking question: What if pixels had depth?
Material Design creates an interface with pixels moving over other pixels for quick updating information. These “hovering pixels” can be moved, expand, reform, and shape. The use of seams seams and shadows explain what can move vs what cannot. App developers can now specify an elevation value with real time values. L preview allows developers to colorize in relation to brand, and their creations will work on all screens. They can arrange one type face designed for all screens from watch to TV. Material surfaces respond to motion like card stock on Google Now. Taking inspiration from mouse cursors changing to explain that something is loading, buttons update and change when touched to display information such as loading, volume, etc. Developers can make these animation updates for any screen, on any app.
Gmail demonstrated such updates with bolder colors and a new edit button in the bottom corner while easily transferring between screens. Through Polymer, a web developer can make new animations for the whole web at 60 fps. A new unified set of design guidelines will help developers build consistent sites and is available now!
Dave Burke, Engineering Director of Google outlined the changes made for the user experience.
- New material themes
- New animation capabilities
- 3d views with realtime shadows
- Customizable activity, entrance and exit animations
To demonstrate, using the basic phone dialer app, we saw bold material colors and shadows, now with more transitions and depth. Animations galore made what is a pretty vanilla app pop with vibrance. Burke also showed nested scrolling; while scrolling upwards, certain items will scroll at different speeds. Each press of a button has ripple effects, and an animation created a transition between the dialer and call screen. Over the summer, all apps will feature this.
Everything from the phone buzzing to responding is streamlined. You can read, open, and dismiss in seconds. The most important notifications show up on the lock screen with motion capabilities. Swipe down brings a full notification list. Double tap a notification to open its app or swipe to dismiss. Swipe up to open the device. Unless of course you have the new personal unlocking enabled. Assuming you have a smart watch. once its blutooth is matched to the phone you wont need to input a passcode as the device recognizes you are the one holding the phone! Probably the most useful of these updates was the ability to quickly swipe away calls, in case you may be playing a game or another intensive task, you can easily stop the call without interruption.
Avni Shah, Product Manager of Google, was next on stage to explain the newest updates for the Chrome browser, citing the 300 million active users on Chrome. To make the Chrome experience better for these people Google plans three major implementations for the popular browser.
- Material design
Google.com results with material design. Avni searched Starry Night and the painting came up with a lovely matching card border based on the colors in the painting. As they click links, paintings emerge with delightful animations at 60 fps.
- Redesigned Recents
As you scroll through recents, the recent cards now overlap. In addition, your chrome tabs will synch to your phone, and all chrome tabs will show individually in the recent tabs. This individual tab feature will available to all developers.
- App Indexing
This lets developers get users to app content directly from search results. When searching for water bar restaurants.The second link took them directly to the Open Table app because it was already installed on the phone. This is also available to all Android app developers. If an app requires sign in you can even use Google sign in.
Dave Burke retook the stage to show the second major theme of L: Performance. The major topics of the new performance were:
- Faster runtime
- No changes needed for an app’s code, all performances enhanced for free. App stutters are reduced as well.
- Memory efficiency, and 64 bit compatible.
- Graphics. Using android extension pack allowed unreal 4 running on a tablet and while it was just a cgi trailer, it looked really good!
- High end tablets can have pc gaming graphics on tablets (although, most likely, will be comparatively low end performance running on high end tablets)
- Project Volta: designed to improve battery usage. Allows you to see where the battery usage discharges largest.
- L development is available now.
During these walkthrough, the first of two protestors began heckling the show before being escorted out of the hall. Dave Burke made a quip and the show moved on.
Google play services ships every 6 weeks. 93% of users on the latest version of android. While open, and fast, they want security as well.
- Auto scan all applications, even outside of play if the user wishes.
- Security patches via play services
- factory reset prediction allows users full control to disable phones if stolen
- universal data controls where users can manual control what data is shared among devices
L works with TV, watch, car, etc. L is designed for connectivity with all device forms. Everything will be contextually aware so devices can tailor usage based on where you are and what you are doing. its all made to be seamless, letting you pick up where you left off regardless of which devices you switch between.
Android Wear is a platform tailored for wearable tech. It will support both square and circular screens. Sensors of the devices can be used for perceiving context. Operating with Google Now style cards the wearer can swipe vertically (complete with overlay of Material Design) to choose apps and swipe horizontally to open them. The wearer can also swipe away notifications and hold the screen to change style themes. Interestingly, one can set contextual reminders to appear when in proximity of places. As a demonstration, they set a reminder to go to the mailbox when they got home. Not at whatever time they perceived getting home, just “when I get home” and because of the contextual awareness, the watch knew when he was home and reminded him.
Watches can also interact with your phone. When you swipe a notification away on the watch it swipes away on the phone as well. When someone is calling you, a simple swipe up can display pre made messages to reject the call with. Thankfully a “Do Not Disturb” function for your watch is just a down swipe away if they should ever get annoying. Other functions like easy music selection and heart rate tracking also added some bells and whistles to the device functionality. This synchronization is also available to the developers.
AndroidWear SDK allows DEVELOPERS to directly write code for AndroidWear. As an example, they order pizza through a simple efficient design that took under 20 seconds.By installing an app on your phone, its wearable counterpart will auto install on phone and auto update. The speaker then proudly announced that all smart watches featured during the conference were water resistant. They ended the section by announcing the LG Gwatch and the Samsung Gear Live were both available for order today, with the Moto360 available later this summer.
Redesigning Android for cars. Navigation, communication, music and media. Android auto is contextually aware and completely voice enabled so you can keep your eyes on the road.
Once connected, the car input takes over. The experience runs on the phone. The overview screen shows calls, navigations, and music. You can use steering wheel controls to control the music.
Google maps for android auto is completely voice enabled. With just two questions you know when and where to go. The demonstrator never had to manually put in anything. The driver uses the steering wheel voice button to send text messages and the system checks by audibly asking if the message is correct by reading it back to you. Recognizing the variety of cars and the difficulty of designing for them, Google unveiled Android Auto SDK. Allowing easy platform design across cars.
Think of it like Chromecast for smart TV’s via an app on your smartphone. Really its nothing all that new, a lot of TV’s have had this functionality for awhile, particlarly Apple TV. But its noce to see that all 4k TV’s from 2014 and 2015 will be made with this functionality in mind. Press the home button on your phone and a menu overlays your programming. By saying breaking bad on the phone, results showed on his tv, showing the show, actors, youtube clips, etc. This also works with Android Wear and you can even play games across devices.
Chromecast allows for connecting through the cloud without using wifi, and you control who can and cant connect. Though the TV is regularly in use 5 hours a day, the rest of the time it’s just sitting there. Google aims to make use of this with Backdrop, a system that turns your TV into a glorified digital portrait slideshow. Your TV is now the largest picture frame in the house. You can choose themes and ambient feeds, lifestyle, albums, art, weather, news and more.as well as photo album display on the screen. You can always use voice search to ask what is on your TV. “whats on my chrome cast” delivered a link to the painting.
All ten of the top ten laptops in amazon are chrome books. If you are using your chrome book with your phone the laptop will unlock. Cards will display on chrome book. Text messages and calls, as well as notifications like low battery will show. You can browse some apps through your chrome books.
Of course it wouldn’t be a conference for the developers without some hard code. This is the dividing line between I/O and Apples conferences. For the average consumer, up until now everything seems clear to understand, but from here on in most of the event is tailored towards developers and how they can create apps for consumers. Using API’s your corporate and personal applications can be on the same device, isolating each. This will be available for Ice Cream Sandwich and above. Next up came native Office Editing within Google Apps. Get a word file in your email and rather than converting it will be handled natively and saves back as a word file (or change to docs format if you like)! Google drive also sees work updates like unlimited storage for $10 a month. Cloud monitoring will (reportedly) allow for easy, quick modification with code. The Data and Analytics presentation showed off Cloud Data Flow. Cloud Data Flow allows for gathering quick data to calculate information. This includes real time streams, mapping data, translating information and using 3rd party services to calculate scores.
Finally we come to the last major segment of the conference. We learned the new things Google is doing to keep developers happy and creating for the system.They started by announcing that Appurify and Google are teaming up. Appurify is a service that lets you test your apps across devices so having it at the hub of all apps on the play store means a greater proficiency with cross device apps.
For wearable devices, Google Fit is an open platform to keep track of fitness goals. It will blend data from multiple apps (one for weight lifting, one for diet, etc.) to give a larger perspective. Revamped tools for the Play store is making the idea of playing your apps on the TV seem almost worth it. Quests for instance, lets developers make ‘live operations’ within their games. Think of it like this: Play Angry Birds this weekend and see if you can clear ten levels with one bird. Completing these quests will have you rewarded by the developer. In addition, a new game save feature is being implemented into the Google game network.
And so ends another Google I/O. Of course many people look to these hoping to see the next Nexus or Google Glass, but at the heart these conferences are about the developers and how they can use Android. In the coming days, we’ll likely learn a lot more about device release dates, specs, and other services. To hear about them, keep reading Tech Raptor for all you need to know!