Google I/O is an annual developer-focused conference held by Google in San Francisco, California. Google I/O features highly technical, in-depth sessions focused on building web, mobile, and enterprise applications with Google and open web technologies such as Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, Google APIs, Google Web Toolkit, App Engine, and more.
Google I/O was started in 2008. The “I” and “O” stand for input/output, and “Innovation in the Open”. The format of the event is similar to that of the Google Developers Day.
This time Google I/O 2013 was held at the Moscone Center, San Francisco from 15th May – 17th May 2013.The registration opened on March 13, 2013 at 7:00 AM PDT (GMT-7). It took only 49 minutes for all the $900 (or $300 for school students and faculty) tickets to get sold out, even with the added requirement that registrants must have both Google+ and Google Wallet accounts.
Last year,the conference was decidedly focused on hardware with product launches like the Nexus 7, Chrome box, and of course Google Glass.
What we expected for this year’s Google I/O was an upgrade to a new version of the mobile OS and a new device (or two) to run it on. Instead what we got was just the opposite of what we expected. Google did not announce any new hardware — no new Nexus 4 phone, upgraded Nexus 7 tablet or new Chromebook — nor did the company reveal a new version of Android. Wilder rumors about an “X Phone” from Motorola and an 11-inch tablet from Samsung did not materialize. Google released myriad application updates – the most notable being an updated Google+ that includes photo editing capabilities, Google Music, and a revamped Google Maps experience.
A major upgrade to Google’s social networking connections and services working in and around Android – a turning point, perhaps, for the company in a single three-day series of events. There were some significant updates for Google Apps admins, users, and developers.
Google’s most popular operating system and the most popular operating system on the planet – is Android; so the company’s yearly developer’s conference was centered in this multi-device environment. On the third floor of the Moscone Center we literally saw the word ANDROID which was dominating the floor aside Chrome. The second floor also had Google Glass holding its unique space on the level’s far side.
At the Google I/O 2013 keynote Google announced that they had officially reached 900 million Android activations. That’s an incredible achievement for a platform that’s only been around for a few years. Last year, activations passed 400 million totals, which means growth has over doubled in a single year. Google’s Sundar Pichai who took the stage to reveal this news went on to say that he realizes there are over 7 billion people on the planet, so technically Android has quite a way to go, but it’s certainly off to a very good start. Additionally, there have been 48 billion app downloads so far and revenue per user up 250 percent from last year.
Google announced at I/O, its annual developer conference held in California, that everyone attending the first keynote will receive a free Chromebook Pixel.The Chromebook Pixel comes with a 12.85-inch high resolution IPS display (2560×1700), equal to 239 PPI, at a rather unorthodox 3:2 aspect ratio.
At this point, the crowd goes into overdrive; it’s fair to say they knew what was coming next.
For more info regarding Chromebook pixel click here.
Now let’s have a quick overview of all the new, consumer-facing things that Google announced at the show:
1. Google Play Game Services:
Google at the I/O conference announced its brand new service for Android gamers: Google Play game services. The Android gaming service features a number of similar features as Apple’s Game Center, including achievements, cloud saves, multiplayer, and leaderboards. But it’s also cross-platform, so developers can implement the features not just on Android, but also across iOS and the web. This system will allow game saves to the cloud so that users can sign in with their game profile from any device and pick up their game where they left off. It will also support easier connections for multi-player games between users playing on different platforms.
2. Google Play Music All Access:
Google formally announced its new subscription music initiative, Google Play Music All Access as a real competitor to streaming music services and will compete with Spotify and Pandora.
All Access has an option called Explore, offering personalized recommendations based on listening preferences similar to Spotify’s home screen. The new feature will allow for on-demand music streaming and a highly customizable radio option, which can instantly create a playlist from any song or artist, similar to Pandora and Spotify.
With All Access, users can swipe to see what songs are playing next or select the playlist option to see a full list of queued songs. If a listener doesn’t like one of the playlist songs, they can “swipe it away” or reorder tracks.
However, unlike a lot of Google services, All Access isn’t free. It’s priced at $9.99 a month, though there is a 30-day free trial. Google is looking to reward early adopters, however: if you start a trial by June 30th, your monthly fee will run just $7.99.
Users in the U.S. can now update Play Music to include All Access by clicking here.
3.Google Play for Education:
Google announced a major education program that help teacher’s organize and manage apps, books, and other learning based content. With the announcement of Google Play for Education, Google is pushing forward in getting their Android OS and Apps into the hands of K-12 students.
Applications in Google Play for Education will be categorized based on subject matter and age, making it easy for teachers and students alike to find the right app for the right situation. Books, applications, textbooks, and videos will all be available through this service.
Google Play for Education will allow for the mass deployment of apps to education tablets. Not just apps either, books, videos, all available through Google Play for Education with mass licenses chargeable against school purchase orders.
6 elementary schools have been involved in a pilot scheme, with 550 different third-party apps deployed in a single day. This is huge for the education sector, and it’s great to see Google making strides into improving education with technology.
4. Samsung Galaxy S4 on Google Play:
Google showed of a single new device – a new “Google Edition” or “Nexus Edition” of the Samsung GALAXY S 4. This device would be sold straight from Google the way a Nexus smartphone or tablet would, but would retain the Samsung GALAXY S 4 brand name. This “Google Edition” of the Galaxy S4 runs on a stock version of the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system, completely devoid of the Samsung TouchWiz interface. The Google Edition Galaxy S4 will be available on T-Mobile and AT&T; will come with 16GB of internal storage as well as with LTE support. It will also ship bootloader unlocked and will automatically receive system updates.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition will be available starting June 26 on the Google Play Store in the U.S., and will sell for $649.
5. Android Studio:
At Google I/O, the company unveiled a new Android development environment called Android Studio. Built off of the IntelliJ IDEA, the Eclipse replacement will feature things like multiple layout tools for a range of devices. It will act as Google’s first all-inclusive developer tool they’ve ever offered – an IDE (integrated developer environment) that offers features such as virtual multi-device display testing and real-time views of multiple language translations in-app. Android Studio works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux at the moment. Tweaks and app revisions to Android code show up in real time inside the development console, and Google says several services, including Cloud Messaging, will be integrated into the environment.
You can download Android Studio v0.1.1 for Windows from here.
6. Hands on Google Glass:
Google Glass barely got a mention at this event, even though this is the first I/O where the tiny wearable computer is actually in developers’ hands. Day 2 of I/O was packed with sessions on Glass, including one where official Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr apps made their debut. Many developers were walking around wearing Glass, but it was the looks of jealousy from the Glass-less that underscored just how much interest there is in Google’s head-mounted gadget.
Another important promise is the one regarding the Glass Developer Kit (or GDK), which is coming, but not anytime soon, according to Google’s Charles Mendis. The software development kit will give apps direct access to the Google Glass hardware, as opposed to just content from web services pushed to the device by apps, as the Mirror API currently allows.
Developers were shown some of the things that can be achieved with Glass at Google I/O conference, including running basic Android apps or connecting a Bluetooth keyboard. Running a version of Ubuntu Linux on Google Glass was also demonstrated; while possible, it requires deep root access and would likely void the warranty of the device.
Google Glass was a showstopper last year, and it’s the show this year.
For more information about Google Glass, read our article on Google Glass.
7. Google+ adds photo filters, unified hangouts:
A major portion of the conference was devoted to how Google+ will handle your uploaded photos. Google is really hoping you’ll share more on Google+, its two-year-old social network. A new interface resembles Pinterest, with around 41 features filling the page. For photos, Google+ can pare down your vacation photos by automatically selecting highlights, and it can make photos look better with skin softening, noise reduction and other quick editing tools.
But beyond a visual interface upgrade for Google+ which adds some new columns, the changes to the network’s Hangout chat system were the most significant. A new Hangout app works like a running chat room across Android and iOS devices. And any of those chats can very simply turn into a group video session. Additionally, photos posted with a Hangout are automatically saved and shared between the users via Google+. Unfortunately, no word on a release date.
For more information click here.
8.New cards for Google Now:
At Google I/O 2013, the company announced an update to its Google Now search app for Android and iOS. For Google Now on Android and iOS, you’ll start seeing six new card types, bringing the total to 23. Four of them seem entirely intended to sell you stuff from Google Play, displaying new music, video games, books, and TV episodes. The other two cards are more helpful. One is for public transit so that when you’re near a bus stop or a subway station, Google Now will let you know the next bus or train. Useful; but perhaps more useful to a larger portion of the population is the Reminders card.
Google’s virtual-assistant service will be able to tell you about upcoming TV shows and video games and provide real-time public transit updates in select cities. You can also use voice commands to set reminders on your phone, and Google Now will nudge you at the appropriate time.
9.Voice Search on the Desktop:
Google Voice Search service has been officially announced for desktop PC by Google. With Google Voice Search you can talk instead of type to search on google.com. All you need is Google Chrome 11 or higher and a built-in or attached microphone. Google is rolling out this Voice Search feature gradually for every Google Chrome user on Windows, Linux and Mac OS (maybe it will be available for Firefox and Internet Explorer user too).
The announcement is another step toward Google being able to let people use its search technology in as natural a way as possible, “pretty much like you would ask a friend,” said Amit Singhal, a senior vice president at Google and head of its core ranking team.
Without needing to activate the computer’s microphone, “you can sit back, relax, say, ‘Okay Google,’ ask your question, and have Google speak back the answer,” he said.
Conversational Search for desktops and laptops is available to a limited number of users as part of Google’s Search Field Trial and will roll out more broadly soon, the company said.
10. Redesign of Google Maps:
The rebooted Google Maps user interface, which made its public debut at Google I/O , is a total reimagining of one of Google’s most popular services. The changes are a bit shocking at first – the new Maps look and work more like a native app than a traditional website. The tiled desktop maps of old have been replaced with cleaner, quicker-loading vector maps. As you type into the search box, predictions show up as they did before, but once you’ve settled on what you’re looking for, details appear in the Google Now-style information cards.
Google Maps on the desktop has been rebuilt from the ground up, ushering in its most significant changes since its launch eight years ago. After spending some time with the new Maps, and with its lead designer, we’re struck by Google’s choice to do away with most of the user interface elements and let the map reach from edge to edge in your browser.
It’s a complete redesign from the ground up, with edge-to-edge content and very little UI chrome to get in your way.
In terms of personalization options, the map will analyze the places that you travel, highlight routes and offer suggestions based on spots that you and your friends enjoy. A map also gathers images for a specific location and displays those snapshots via a carousel down below.
Google has revealed that it’s giving Maps for mobile its own design overhaul. Android users will soon receive the updated UI and features first delivered in the company’s Maps app for iOS. Google Offers is also being integrated in Maps with the forthcoming update, including deals from popular retailers and restaurants like Starbucks, Toys ‘R Us, and RadioShack. Users can now rate restaurants on a five-point scale, and can also view Zagat reviews directly inside Maps. And traffic alerts will expand to include live reports of incidents and accidents across the globe.
Check out the complete video of Google I/O 2013: Keynote down below:
Google’s CEO Larry Page stepped on stage at the start of this conference to express his wish for an ideal future: “technology should do the hard work, so you can get on and live your life.”
In the end, Android became a power here that was assumed while Google’s ecosystem grew around it. Google makes it clear: Android itself doesn’t need to be updated every time the company has a big event. It’s the year of the Context Ecosystem, and Google’s presentation of Android at Google I/O 2013 has once again proven it.