Round-up of Google I/O 2013 Announcements

Google I/O 2013 started with a 3-hour long keynote address. Though many had expected a new Android version, a new Nexus device, new Google X phone to be announced, Google did none of that. Instead they announced an upgrade to a host of their services and products.

Google_IO_2013

Here is a quick round-up of all the updates announced based on different products.

Android

The numbers for Android continue to be impressive. It has 900 million Android activations and over 48 Billion app installations. Though no new Android version was announced there were plenty of new updates for Android.

  • Along with Google Maps API v 2.0 for Android a new Location API was announced. The new Location API allowed features like Geofencing on maps.
  • Google Cloud Messaging allows developers to send messages to Android app users. New update includes upstream messaging which allows messaging from users right up to developer’s server.
  • Google Cloud Messaging will also enable synchronizing of notifications. This means if you remove a notification from one Android device, it will be removed your other Android device too.
  • A new range of APIs were announced under Google Play game services. These will allow users who play games to play a particular level on one device and then continue with the next level from another device.
  • It will support cross-platform gaming experience which includes the web.
  • Android Studio: Android Studio was a new IDE for developers. The IDE supports previews for various sized screens. This should encourage better designed tablet apps.
  • App Translation Service will allow developers to translate their apps into different languages. Google will send strings that need to be translated to approved vendor.
  • Google Play Music is a new service on Android devices that launched. The service streams music based on monthly subscription fee of $9.99 in the US.

Samsung Galaxy S4 (running Vanilla Android)

SG4_Google PLay

Google will be selling a Galaxy S4 on their Google Play store. The phone will ship with LTE support and 16GB memory. It will run the default Android version and latest Android updates will be made available with no delays. The phone will be bootloader unlocked.

The disappointing part was probably the high price tag of $649. The phone will be available on June 26.

Google+

Google might be slow in pushing new features on Google+ over the past year but they more than made up for it during this Google IO. They announced 41 new features specifically for Google+.

Google Plus News Stream

  • Google+ News Stream gets a new design. The design is two or three columned and allows looking through the feeds more or less like how we see it on the Google+ mobile apps.
  • Google+ is pushing more interactivity by displaying related hashtags.
  • Google+ Photos will have features like Auto Awesome that combines photos automatically to create new ones.
  • Multiple images can be used to create animated GIFs automatically.

Google’s unified messaging service: Hangouts

There was speculation that Google will be released a new unified messaging service. The name of the new service is Hangouts. This will replace Google Talk.

The service syncs your chats on text, voice and video across platforms. New Hangouts service is available as Chrome extension and as apps on Android and iOS.

Link: Hangouts

Google Search

  • Search app on Chrome will allow voice based searching which will be activated by voice. This means users will not even need to touch the microphone logo on the interface.
  • Google Now will support reminders being set by users.
  • Google Now will also supporting something called hot-word detection. It will allow voice based multiple search queries to be be answered with results but remaining in context.

Google Maps

  • Google Maps will get updated over the next month or so. The new updates will be on Android and iPhone apps.
  • A new app for iPad might be released soon.
  • Google Maps desktop (web) version will get new features that will display images from Google Earth, Street view from one place.
  • The new Google Maps version will be tailored to the individual users using the same data Google Now uses.
  • Google Maps literally brought about eye-candy in the form of 3D environments that will compete with Apple Map’s vector based layouts.

Link: Google Maps Preview

Though there was no big announcement, Google IO showcased a host of improvements. In all fairness they did probably make a big announcement in Android Studio which should really improve app development process for tablets. Google might have also not released a new version of Android just to make sure that Android ecosystem was not fragmented too much. Currently only 25% of Android phones are on Jelly Bean (Android 4.1 & 4.2).

What are your views on Google’s announcements? Do drop in your comments.

Google IO 2013 Keynote Address (Video)

Why an LG Nexus 5 at Google I/O could just be rumours

I have been a little surprised that LG might be producing a new Nexus 5 phone to be presented at Google IO. In this post, I will be doing something that can quickly backfire, which is putting down 5 reasons why LG Nexus 5 seems a unlikely at this year’s Google I/O conference that starts next week.

The rumours really started with a reputable source called @EvLeaks – which often accurately leaks new phone models before they are presented to the public. It started with the picture below posted by Evleaks on their Facebook page.

Rumoured LG Nexus 5
@Evleaks

1. Is it the LG Optimus G2

It might not be the Nexus, it could be the LG Optimus G 2. If you look at the image above it shows LG logo at the front. That is not how Nexus phones usually show of the manufacturers logo. The logo is usually on the back of the phone.

This is meant to reaffirm the Google Nexus brand more than the manufacturers brand. Also the screen size is supposedly 5.5 inches. That actually is closer to the size of LG Optimus G and hence its likely this one is actually the Optimus G2 phone and not the Nexus 5.

2. Google X phone or Motorola’s new phone

Google might be releasing a new phone from Motorola. It is very unlikely that Google IO will feature two phones. Guy Kawasaki who works for Motorola has teased on his Google+ page that smartphones should be customizable like cars leading to rumours that Motorola’s next phone will be just that. Also Google’s CEO Larry Page has talked about a new phone from Motorola and even hinted it will be unbreakable.

3. Its too soon for Nexus 5

The Nexus 4 was released in the first week of November 2012. So a Nexus 5 will be only after 6 months. Some might like the idea but people who bought the Nexus 4 will actually not like that. If they have bought a phone, they do not expect a newer model to come out only in a few months.

LG Nexus 4 did not ship with LTE and we might see Nexus 4 with LTE upgrade being announced at the Google IO conference.

4. LG is not necessarily going to make the next Nexus 5

Nexus phones are meant to be Google phones. But the manufacturer is not constant. For instance previous Nexus phones have been manufactured by HTC and Samsung. So it is not necessary that Google will repeat LG for Nexus 5 though it the success of Nexus 4 might work in LG’s favour.

5. Google IO is about developers not phones launches

Google IO traditionally is not about phone announcements. Usually they introduce a new Android version at Google IO. Last year they introduced the Nexus 7 tablets but no phone. The real purpose of Google IO is to get developers introduced to a new Android version and changes to Chrome.

So despite the rumours I think a LG manufactured Nexus 5 phone just might not happen at the Google IO this year. Though as I said earlier, this post could quickly backfire with Google announced an LG Nexus 5 phone at their Google IO keynote address.

Do drop in your comments.

5 Announcements to Expect at Google I/O 2013

It is that time of the year again, when Google will be hosting developers at a 3-day conference. It is called Google I/O and as most presentations are available and streamed live on YouTube, it gives Google a massive audience to make new announcements.

Last year, they announced Google Glass, Android Jellybean, Nexus 7 and a few more announcements. This year should not be any different and here are five announcements, I expect from Google. Google IO takes place on 15-17 May, 2013.

Google_IO_2013

1. A New Android Version (Jellybean or Key Lime Pie)

Android Jellybean started off as Android 4.1 version. When 4.2 was released, it was still named Jellybean. This prompted the argument that Key Lime Pie will be version 5.0.

So will Google be pushing out a new version of Android? Absolutely yes. There is no way Google will host a conference with developers and not announce a new version. But this might not be the Key Lime Pie version but another updated version of Jellybean. So chances are that we will get to see Android 4.3 rather than Android 5.0 in May.

2. Google Glass Apps and partnerships

Google Glass alpha versions are out for developers to try out. I am sure that during Google IO, it will announce more apps and partnerships for its Glass project. I am sure this I/O conference will see a host of announcements and guidelines for developers to work with Google Glass. We might just see a better roadmap on how Google will be making Glass available for the general public in 2014.

3. Nexus 4 LTE and Nexus tablets

The Nexus brand will keep growing with more announcements likely. Nexus 7 tablet will in all probability see an upgraded model with better specs. Also expected is the announcement of Nexus 4 LTE phone. The current Nexus 4 phone does not support LTE but is supposed to have a inactive LTE chip on it.

4. Babel (Unified Messaging service)

Google is working on a unified messaging service that integrated your SMS from your Android phone, your emails and your chat messages on Gmail and Google+. This is on the lines of Apple’s iMessage and should work across platforms. Google will probably integrate this service into Android and Chrome initially.

5. Google Now on Chrome and web

Last week, I wrote about how Google is trying to gets its Google Now feature from Android onto Chrome and the Google homepage. This might serve as a handy replacement for iGoogle initially but more importantly it means reminders and updates will be synced and displayed on your browser and also your phone.

Things we might not see:

Google will probably not announce a Nexus 5 phones – as Nexus 4 was announced only towards the end of last year. It might just announce a new phone often called ‘Google X’. But the best rumours about Google X are sketchy at best.

There were rumours of Google announcing opening of physical stores (like Apple Stores) but that also seems unlikely as Google IO probably is not the best place for that announcement.

What do you expect to see this Google IO? Do drop in your comments.

5 Announcements Expected at Google I/O 2012

Google I/O 2012 seems to be the showcase event where Google, will roll-out a lot of new features, updates and more. Last year, Google did introduce Chromebooks, which although are not very successful commercially, has been a favourite among many schools and universities in US and Europe.

This year too, there are a lot of expectations form Google I/O. Lets take a look at the 5 most anticipated announcements.

1. Android Jellybeans

Even though very few Android based smart-phones have Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), all indicatoins suggest that Google will roll-out Android Jellybeans. It was only a rumour before, but recently it is more or less has become a confirmed announcement.

Yesterday, Google confirmed Jellybeans, by unvieling this Jellybean filled Android statue on its laws.

Android Jellybeans might be a sure thing but its version number is not yet confirmed. It could be Android 4.1 or even Android 5.0. That apart, Google will have to do something to get OEMs to push Android updates a lot faster than they have been doing, which has led to a sort of fragmentation. This fragmentation actually creates a lot of issues for developers, who are the heart and soul of the Android ecosystem.

2. Nexus 7

Google has been rumoured for a long time to be working on releasing a tablet. The leaked specifications on Nexus 7, have rumour mills going that Google will pull off a low priced tablet that will run on Android Jellybeans. This would put is as a viable option to Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

Google might unveil a completely different tablet but whatever it does, it is probably a good step as Android based tablets are really not catching anyone’s attentions at the moment.

3. Google Drive

Google Drive was earlier but we have not seem many updates and improvement on it. At he moment Google Drive API works only for web apps which have to be installed from the Chrome webstore. This sort of makes Google Drive on the web only useful on Chrome. I guess they will roll out more features and options to make better use of Google Drive.

4. Google + Motorola

Google has recently acquired Motorola at a very heavy price. So there is a natural expectation that Google will put that talent to good use with a showcase new smartphone or a range of new phones in partnership with Motorola. At the moment its Nexus phone is sold by Samsung, while the Nexus 7 tablet seem to be built by Asus. Nothing heard about Motorola as yet, but pretty sure will hear something interesting about it.

5. Google+ Features and API access

Google+ was launched late last year but capture a great deal of media. People are already writing it off as a play where not one really visits. But with social media becoming more oriented towards mobile phones, Google+ might see some interesting new features.

Most importantly, there is a chance Google+ API is made available for app developers. It was already rolled out to Flipboard, a mobile based feed reader app.

Google I/O Curse for new announcements?

Google has not always hit the bull’s eye with all their announcements. If you remember duds like Google Wave, Google TV and to an extent Chromebooks have been all announced at previous Google I/O. Hopefully Google will a lot more success with their new products in 2012.

Follow Google I/O 2012 on their official page where all the conferences will be streamed live.

What do your expect from Google I/O over the next three days? Do drop in your comments.