There were quite a few announcements made at the Google I/O 2014 keynote. They were mostly were heavily focused on Android. The next version of Android, nick-named “Android L” was officially announced, most people have said (including Google) that it is the biggest update of Android since 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Android TV is looking to be Google’s answer to taking over the living room. Android Auto will help with better integration of your Android device, in your vehicle.
This had to be one of the biggest announcements made a Google I/O. The final (dessert) themed name was not mentioned by Google, however most people suspect that is could be Lollipop, Licorice or Lemon Meringue Pie. They did announce a developer preview that would be available for the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 7 (2013), with a official launch, sometime in the fall.
Android L will offer a “radical new redesign”, apps such as Gmail or the dialer app, now offer a more unified design. Google will offer new API tools available to developers, this is the addition of the new style guidelines. This should help make all Android apps, have one consistent design rather than a plethora of different designs.
Google put a lot of push of what they call “material design”. This adds another dimension to applications. Essentially it means that parts of an app can “hover” over other aspects, this would provide a floating effect. Another feature is “heads up notifications”, basically notifications will come in and overlay the app you are currently in. This feature is similar to one that could be found on iOS. These notifications can easily be dismissed with a simple swipe gesture.
Android TV is a new platform to be used on set-top boxes and TVs. There weren’t any actual hardware announcements made by Google. This would mean that Google would not be going head-to-head with other products, such as the Amazon Fire TV, the many Roku devices or other products that are similar.
Android TV will allow you to play games, access the wide selection of movies, music and tv on Google Play. It will also allow you to “Google Cast” content from your device to a device running Android TV. That means that you would not need a standalone Chromecast.
Sony’s 4K smart TVs for 2014 will launch with Android TV built-in. There will also be TV sets from Philips, TPVision and Sharp with Android TV, coming in 2015. Razr and Asus will be launching Android TV powered set-top boxes in the fall.
Android Auto is Google’s approach to getting better integration of Android devices in vehicles. So far car manufacturers have had better integration with Apple’s iOS devices than Google’s Android devices.
Android Auto is similar to Apple’s CarPlay, in which that you will need a device running the latest OS and then you will plug your device into your vehicle via a USB cable. So far it will work on Android L devices and allows you to use voice commands to search places nearby, interact with the map and play music from Google Play Music. There is access to third-party applications as well.
There were a few features that would be coming to Chromecast via an update in the fall. One was something called “Backdrop”, basically it will let you view weather, news and use your own photos for the background. The second was that Google has said that they are working on device mirroring using the Chromecast. This means that you can basically show your device’s screen on your TV and you don’t need to be using a certain application that has Chromecast support.
Another feature is the ability to stream to TVs that are not on the same Wi-Fi network. If the owner of the Chromecast activates it, then anyone could stream from their device to another Chromecast besides there own.
Google originally announced their wearable platform, back in March and they had released an early SDK for developers to get started. Google has announced another Android Wear device, the Samsung Gear Live. It is Samsung’s first entry into the Android Wear market. The full Android Wear SDK is now available.
The LG G Watch is available for preorder for $249.00 in Canada ($229.00 in the US) and it ships out on July 3rd. The Samsung Gear Live is available for preorder for $219.00 in Canada ($199.00 in the US) and that ships out on July 8th.
There were quite a few Google executives wearing the Motorola MOTO 360 watch, which has a more traditional watch look to it. The MOTO 360 wasn’t made available for pre order just yet, but Google has said that it is coming sometime this summer.