Yesterday, we summarized Google’s plans for Android M. Today, let’s take a look at some of the many other topics the company addressed in its I/O conference keynote address.
In its very first weekend of preorders, Apple Watch outsold all Android Wear sales for 2014. Granted, the first Android Wear smartwatches launched in June, but one weekend versus six months is still quite impressive.
Google came out swinging with new Wear features at its keynote. Its low-power, always-on setting for watchfaces will be extended to select apps, like shopping lists and navigation. Wrist gestures allow interaction without needing two hands, like scrolling through notifications. Developers will also be able to write code that runs on the watch itself, even if a phone is nowhere nearby.
David Singleton, Engineering Director for Android Wear, emphasized the diversity of smartwatches from LG, Samsung, Sony, Asus, and Motorola, and promised “many more” models by the end of the year.
The keynote’s headliner, Senior Vice-President of Products Sundar Pichai, announced Project Brillo, an underlying operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT). It attempts to unify all the various Internet-connected appliances and devices.
A related initiative, Weave, is a common communication layer for IoT devices. It provides standardized and customizable schemas so that devices of different types and brands can talk to each other. The example he used was a cooking app that can automatically begin preheating a smart oven for a particular recipe.
A parade of managers, directors, and VPs from Google divisions offered tastes of other imminent updates.
Aparna Chennapragada previewed Now On Tap, an expansion of Google Now natural language voice search. Now On Tap uses information from the app you’re using to give context to a search and return more relevant results.
Ellie Powers presented the Designed for Families program, which curates Play Store apps and content based on age appropriateness.
Clay Bavor introduced the second version of Google’s virtual reality accessory, Cardboard. The folding corrugated viewer now supports phones with screens up to six inches. An Expeditions pack includes viewers and phones for a whole classroom and a tablet for a teacher for going on virtual immersive field trips.
Jason Titus announced Android Studio 1.3, which includes full support for C and C++ code in addition to Java. He also showed off a universal ad console, making it easier for developers to monetize their apps through 40 different ad networks.
Android is making its way into 35 brands of cars with Android Auto, starting with Hyundai Sonatas. Android TV, meanwhile, is quietly taking over smart home entertainment devices from Sony, Sharp, Philips, and others. Google’s own Chromecast HDMI stick now includes HBO Now, which launched as an Apple exclusive.
Sundar Pichai presented some of his loftier goals, too. There’s Project Loon, providing wireless Internet access via high-altitude balloons; and self-driving cars, using machine learning to identify other vehicles and pedestrians.
The real question is what developers can accomplish with all these new capabilities from Google. What’s your idea?
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