Today Google began its I/O developer conference with one helluva memorable keynote, featuring details about the next version of Android (called only “L”), the new Android TV platform and a whole load of wearables.
We’ve collected together ten of the most interesting, surprising and promising announcements from the event:.
Material Design: adding consistency across all things Google
Nope, it’s not the name of a dull adult-learning class all about textiles, but it’s the term given to Google’s brand new look, which is all about adding depth and mimicking real world design. Up until now Google’s web properties, Android on mobile and its Chrome browser have all had a rather different look and feel, but that’s all about to change and become much more unified. The new look is much more spacious, colourful and minimal with boxes that move about and loads of cool animation features. Google has created a whole section of its website about design, which you can find here. The even more exciting bit? Material Design will also be rolled out to any wearable devices running Android Wear. And while we’re all excited about wearables…
Android Wear: an operating system for your arm (or neck, or ankle, or chest)
We’ve heard about Android Wear, Google’s operating system built solely for wearable gadgets, before, but today the Google team gave us all a better look at what it can offer. It’s essentially all about information you can glance at – like messages, reminders and a step counter – and how Google Voice can be integrated into your daily life – you can just say “Okay Google” and ask it to do pretty much everything. Okay not everything. But most things.
Smartwatches: the gadgets that pack Android Wear get release dates
Over the past few months Google has been touting the shiny new devices that show off its Android Wear operating system, like the LG G Watch and the Moto 360, but today you’re able to actually order them (well, some of them). The LG G, a rather large, square-shaped watch, is available to pre-order today, along with the just announced Samsung Gear Live, Android Wear’s third partner, which is also a rather large, square-shaped watch. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait until summer to get our hands on and wrists into the Moto 360, which is a little annoying given that’s our favourite of the bunch when it comes to looks.
Android L: a new operating system for… well… EVERYTHING
Later in the year a new version of Android will arrive, and for now it’s being called “L” – any bets on what that’ll stand for later down the line? It’s a fresh look for the Google operating system and features “recents”, a way to multi-task by stacking up windows you’ve had open in Chrome and recent apps; Project Volta, a way to add more battery juice to your phone; more advanced and intuitive notification features; and of course the new Material Design we were wow-ed with earlier. L is built to work on your phone, laptop, TV and… wait for it… car…
Android Auto: Google comes to your car
Well we all expected the I/O keynote to be full of news about how our laptops, phones and wrists will be changed for the better, but Google also revealed it’ll be making inroads to our cars, too. Android Auto takes everything you know and love from your Android phone and brings it to your car. It allows you to “cast” your phone to your car’s screen and is focused on bringing communication, navigation and music to your commute. As you’d expect, it’s fully optimised for voice commands and will be coming at the same time as Android L – at some point before the end of 2014. Google already has a bunch of car manufacturers that it’s partnered up with, like Bentley, Audi and Chrysler, as well as apps, like Spotify.
Android TV: Google comes to your living room
Google also announced Android TV, brand new software for your living room that can run through your TV device or a third-party set top box. You’ll be able to play all kinds of content on your TV, search through popular content, apps and games and, of course, control everything with your voice. Google has already partnered with the likes of Sony and Sharp, which will both producing Android-powered entertainment products over the next year.
Google Fit: a centralised spot for health and fitness data
Hot on the heels of Apple and its HealthKit announcement, Google made a small but important introduction to its own version: Google Fit. Just like HealthKit it’s a way to aggregate data from all kinds of third-party apps and devices into one centralised spot. Google has already got Nike on-board and its “fit” points will be added.