#87 - Google I/O
Motto: 3.5 hours of completely undivided attention
Before I write about Google I/O I want to say one thing I’ve noticed about myself time and time again - I am capable of an amazing, almost superhero-like level of focus. After I got off work, I essentially ran home. The first and only thing I did for the next 3.5 hours was watch the Google I/O keynote address. After Larry Page closed out the keynote, I finally broke concentration. I assessed my situation for the first time in 210 minutes and realized some things that I definitely should have already known. I was sweating. I was starving. I was still wearing a shirt. Two shirts, actually. For those of you that know me well, you’ll know how strange it is for me to be wearing a shirt in my own place. This is just one example of a phenomenon that happens every time something truly sparks my interest.
Example from Column #81: Sunday I sat down at my desk chair at ~3-4pm to work on my Life Tracking project that I wrote about at the end of Column #77. Before I knew it, it was dinner time. I put some chicken from a box in the oven. It took 3 minutes, but I was very annoyed by the interruption. Same story 14 to 16 minutes later when the food was done and I had to go through the painstaking trouble of putting it on a plate for consumption. Next thing I knew it was midnight and I had finished.
From here on out I write only about the news from Google I/O - skip to the quote if you aren’t interested.
Google offers developers a number of new APIs. We will soon start to see applications leverage the following new capabilities:
- Actions based off geographical contexts (“if Billy walks here, do this”).
- Synchronized notifications across multiple Android devices.
That’s about it from an end-user perspective. The rest of the APIs, from my somewhat untrained eye, appeared to be mostly upgraded processes on the back end.
Google Play Games services was announced. This essentially gives developers the ability to leverage account management, saved state, and other such game-related activities without having to build their own solution. It will make gaming on Android better, but probably won’t revolutionize anything.
Google unveiled a new IDE called Android Studio. “IDE” stands for “Integrated Development Environment”. What that means in simpler English is “a program to write code in”. This particular IDE looks… for lack of better word… sexy. I don’t think that adjective has ever been ascribed to an IDE. The timing of this news is perfect and definitely a sign that I should start my Android coding project. I’m installing it right now.
Google released a subscription music service. Google Music “All Access” gives you the ability to stream any music you want, whenever you want, as much as you want, natively on your Android phone or on the web. The service costs $9.99 per month, but there exists a 30 day free trial (in which I am participating). My initial review: It’s integrated very well. It’s seamless. More importantly, it’s very good. The Pandora-like “radio stations” based off songs you pick is very well done. I have been listening to new music that I genuinely enjoy for the past hour and a half.
Google’s Hugo Barra got my hopes WAY up for about 30 seconds when he pulled out a Samsung Galaxy S4 running stock Android 4.2. I thought “THEY CREATED A WAY TO FORCE STOCK ANDROID ON ANY PHONE?!?!!?!”. Turns out they were just offering to sell a Samsung Galaxy S4 that runs stock Android. It went from a huge, breakthrough, revolutionary thing to being an aside that almost nobody will take advantage of. The phone is only available without subsidy, and it costs $650. The Nexus 4 is available for $350. The hardware advantages of the GS4 are not worth $300 IMHO.
Internet improvements - new file types using new compression. Saving 50% of data increases speed and longevity, decreases cost. Again, something most users won’t even know they are benefiting from. Personally, I can’t wait to see a day where the WebP becomes the goto photo standard.
The Google+ webpage got a new layout! It looks quite a bit like the Google+ tablet application now. It scales up and down to accommodate windows of different sizes. I’m already a big fan of the change.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day was the unveiling of Google Hangouts as an evolution of the Google Talk instant messaging service. I have the update on my browser, but not on either of my Nexus devices. My initial impressions are that it does what it says it will do (chat, including emjoiis, pictures, and video hangouts) quite well; but it still leaves me a little let down. I was really REALLY hoping for SMS integration. Google Voice integration would have sufficed even. As it is, “Hangouts” really only deserves the title I gave it - an evolution of Google Talk.
Since the inception of Google+ you’ve had the option to automatically backup all the photos you take in the cloud. Now you also have the option to have them automatically enhanced. My little experimentation with this makes me think it’s a bit overzealous with the edits… but it’s an interesting idea for sure. It’s a great optional feature. It also will create entirely new photos out of your automatically uploaded photos. To test this, I took 5 photos of my new TV setup. It put them together into the animation below automatically:
That third lamp is going back to Target, by the way.
Google Now is coming to the web. Although not necessarily in so many words. I didn’t really get the impression there would be some new dedicated webpage for Google Now. I think it’s just being baked into your Google Searches. Also, web voice search got an upgrade or two.
Google Maps got a UI overhaul and several other new features. I’m actually really excited for the new Maps experience. Maps is the completely under-appreciated epitome of smartphone awesomeness. I never think “man, this device is amazing” quite as much as I do when I’m using Google Maps.
I tried keeping that whole thing short. I could talk more to any individual topic, but I won’t (for now).
People in the audience wearing Google Glass. That was cool.
This guy from Lawrence that I don’t officially “know”, but do talk with on Google+ was able to go to the conference. Last night I told him I hated him. I think he understood. When they gave everyone in the audience a free Chromebook Pixel (the $1300 ultrapremium Chromebook), I had to upgrade my hatred of this man to outright loathing. Jealousy like you wouldn’t believe.
Top 5: Things Missing from the Google I/O Keynote
- Google Keep-related news (this wasn’t really expected, but I really wanted it)
- Google TV-related news
- Google Glass-related news
- New Nexus devices &/or the Motorola “X Phone” - possibly due to the next reason
- Android 4.3 - while this is a disappointment, it really shouldn’t be. Android is a mature OS. Rumors about what would come along with Android 4.3 have been sparse. They have been sparse because… what is there to do? Jelly Bean is fantastic.
So, basically I went 2 for 5 with my predictions. That’s good, right?
**“That guy stole my Segway!”> **“That guy stole my Segway!” A random guy I walked by on the street said this to me, just after he was passed by a guy on a Segway</cite>