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