Tag Archives: Google
Because Google’s most popular operating system – and the most popular operating system on the planet, mind you – is Android, it only makes sense that much of the company’s yearly developers conference would be centered in this multi-device environment. 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 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.
We began our journey in a bit of a behind-the-scenes tour of the Moscone Center in San Francisco to see what Google had in store. It appeared that the setup was rather similar to what we’d seen the year before – save the massive models hovering above the third floor.
While on the third floor we literally saw the word ANDROID dominating the floor aside Chrome, the second floor retained a set of services for multiple platforms. The second floor also had Google Glass holding its own unique space on the level’s far side. Below you’ll see an on-site preview of the first of three floors through Glass – aka #throughglass – this method of collection acting as a teaser for what would become the dominant subject of the conference – whether Google intended it to or not.
It was announced by Google that they’d at this point counted 900 million Android activations across the planet. This number jumped from just 400 million activations in 2012 and 100 million activations in 2011 – that’s four times the number from one year to the next, then nearly double that number again between last year and here.
Just this past month, Android activations were marked at 1.35 million per day on average back on the 13th of March according to Google – at 750 million activations back then and 900 million now, the company could be seeing over 1.5 billion Android activations by the end of the year.
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. While device announcements such as this are normally joined by a giveaway for attendees of the conference, here it was joined by a price tag and availability date: June 25th for a healthy $ 649 unlocked and without contractual obligations.
We had our own up-close look at this GALAXY S 4 courtesy of Hugo Barra. Google’s Vice President of Android Product Management showed this device as exactly what you’d expect it would be – at least as swift as the Samsung-skinned original and ready to act as a non-Nexus alternative for those wishing to pick up Jelly Bean straight from the source.
NVIDIA came in to take a bit of the hype and excitement of the week with a double-down announcement of their SHIELD device becoming available for pre-sale. NVIDIA’s SHIELD was both announced for pre-sale for early adopters and had its normal retailer pre-sale bumped up due to an apparent rush of requests from normal consumers.
Google Glass was, of course, on a much larger percentage of the center’s population than anywhere else in the world at any time up until this point, with the one possible exception being inside Google and Google X itself. Google Glass runs on its own unique version of Android, the device itself able to be hacked at this point to run Ubuntu (this also proven at a I/O breakout session just this week). Though it wasn’t mentioned but in passing during I/O’s keynote session, Glass and development surrounding it ended up being the star of the week.
Sliding in on the wearable wave as well was a device announced this week by Recon – the Recon Je. This pair of glasses works with a miniature computer that runs Android as well. We had a quick peek at this device here in its near-complete state as well – it’ll be released by the end of the year, well ahead of Google’s own Glass consumer push.
The system known as Google Play game services was launched to tie together gamers on not only Android, but iOS and in-browser as well for desktop machines. 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.
Groups such as Glu Mobile and Gameloft have already begun integrating Google Play game services connectivity and functionality into their games. Developers at Vector Unit announced and demonstrated the ability to connect over the web with speed with their upcoming title Riptide GP 2 – a game also demonstrated this week on NVIDIA SHIELD out on the main floor at Google I/O.
As this is a developers convention, Google chose it for the announcement point of the system that the company says could end Android fragmentation woes forever. This system is called Android Studio and 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. In speaking with multiple developers throughout the week, we found the fact that these three platforms were chosen first to be a common notion. Why give developers a Chromebook Pixel with an operating system based on the web and announce an Android developer system that’s not entirely web-based?
On that note, Google also let it be known that the Chrome OS experience was coming to its Android web browser with several account-sync abilities. One of the more interesting of these was form autocomplete, this allowing users to store their credit card information and contact information as they normally would on the desktop version of the browser and pull it up automatically from the mobile web.
Announced as an upgrade to the buy-and-own system already in place, Google Play Music All Access was revealed as a real competitor to streaming music services like Spotify and Rdio. This system is able to stream music both in a web browser and in-app, costing the user $ 9.99 a month for access – if they don’t get in on the deal early, that is.
This system is based on a choose-your-own-playlist system that also offers up smart selections from Google’s robots – at the moment, it’s both in-web and on Android, but not ready for iOS. This system is ready to roll for both mobile and in-browser users of Google Music.
Perhaps the most important app announced this week was the cross-platform chat platform expanding what was originally reserved for Google+ in video chat. Here we saw Google+ Hangouts for Android, iOS, in-browser inside Google+, and as a OS X app. Users sign in with their Google+ account and use contacts through Circles to connect.
Google+ Hangouts are able to work with text, stickers and icons, video and photo sharing, and video chat. This system will be expanding to include new types of sharing in the future as Google+ as a social network leads the way. This system is now live in effect for all platforms announced, desktop, Android, and iOS included.
Android has been presented this week as one of several central systems part of the greater ecosystem that is Google, a company that aims to get technology “out of your way”. 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. It’s here that 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.
Google I/O 2013 wrap-up: Expanding the Android Ecosystem is written by Chris Burns & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.
Welcome to Wired’s live blog of the Google IO keynote. What should we expect today? We know it won’t be a roll-up of Chrome and Android, no matter how much that might make sense. But we are hoping for an …
If you’re still laughing at Google+, and at Google Glass, then it might be time to stop; Google has just shown that they’re its next route to digitally understanding everything about you, and it slipped that through in the guise of a simple photo gallery tool. Highlights is one of the few dozen new features Google+ gained as of I/O this past week, sifting through your auto-uploads and flagging up the best of them. Ostensibly it’s a bit of a gimmick, but make no mistake: Highlights is at the core of how Google will address the Brave New World of Wearables and the torrent of data that world will involve. And by the end of it, Google is going to know you and your experiences even better than you know them yourself.
Lifelogging isn’t new – Microsoft Research’s Gordon Bell, for instance, has been sporting a wearable camera and tracking his life digitally since the early-2000s – but its component parts are finally coalescing into something the mainstream could handle. Cheap camera technology – sufficiently power-frugal to run all day, but still with sufficiently high resolution and bracketed with sensor data like location – has met plentiful cloud storage to handle the masses of photos and video.
More importantly, the public interest in recording and sharing memorable moments has flourished over the past few years, with Facebook over-sharing going from an embarrassment to commonplace, and Twitter and Tumblr evolving into stream-of-consciousness. For better or for worse, an event or occasion isn’t quite real enough for us unless we’re telling somebody else about it, preferably with the photos to prove it.
Into that arrives Glass. It’s not the only wearable project, and in fact it’s not even trying to immediately document your every movement, conversation, and activity. Out of the box, Glass doesn’t actually work as a lifelogger, at least not automatically. However, it hasn’t taken long before Explorer Edition users have tweaked the wearable to grant it those perpetual-memory skills, though we need to wait for Google’s part of the puzzle before we see the true shift take place.
Kickstarter project Memoto, which raised over half a million dollars for its wearable lifelogging camera that fires off two frames a minute all day, every day, isn’t really a hardware challenge – though the startup might disagree with that somewhat, given the slight delays caused by squeezing power-efficient camera tech into a tiny little geek-pendant – but a software one. The issue isn’t one of taking photos, or of storing them: it’s of then organizing them in a way that’s anywhere near manageable for the wearer.
Think about your last set of holiday photos. You probably took many more than you did in the days of traditional film cameras. Maybe you synchronized them with iPhoto, or uploaded them to a Dropbox or Picasa gallery. Perhaps they went on Facebook, either sorted through or – more likely, maybe – simply dumped en-masse. How many times have you looked through them, or shown them to somebody else?
Now, imagine having a whole day’s worth of photos to deal with. We’ll be conservative and assume you’re sleeping for eight hours – lucky you – and maybe have a couple of hours “privacy” time during which you’re showering, getting changed, or otherwise not camera-ready. Fourteen hours when you could be wearing your Memoto, then, or some other camera: 840 minutes, or 1,680 individual photos. In the course of a week, you’ve snapped 11,760 shots.
By the end of the year, you’ve got over four million of them. Sure, plenty of them will be of the same thing, or blurry because you were running across the road at the time, or too dark to make out details. Many, many of them will just be plain dull. But they’ll all be there, sitting in the cloud waiting to be looked at.
Nobody is going to sift through four million photos. And so the really clever thing the Memoto team is working on is the relevance processing all of those images are fed through. The exact details of the algorithm haven’t been confirmed – in fact it’s still something of a work-in-progress, and likely will be even when the first units start shipping out to Kickstarter backers – but it takes into account the location each image was taken at (there’s geotagging for each shot), the direction you’re facing, what interesting things are in the frame, and more.
That way, you get the best of both worlds, or at least in theory. “All photos are stored and organized for you,” Memoto promises. “None are deleted, but the best ones are more visible.”
As Memoto sees it, that all amounts to about thirty frames per day. Thirty potentially review-worthy shots out of more than sixteen-hundred. Now, there’s no way of knowing quite how well the system will actually operate, and we’re bound to miss out some gems and have out attention drawn to some duffers, but make no mistake: we need this layer of abstraction if lifelogging is to be more than just a boon for those selling hard-drives.
For a while, Google didn’t seem to have given managing the extra photos from wearables like Glass much consideration. In fact, the first evidence of photo sharing – automatically uploading to Google+, and being posted out with the generic #throughglass tag – was one of the more half-baked of the company’s implementations. That all changed, though, at I/O this week.
Google+ is the glue for Google’s ecosystem – what I call the “context ecosystem” – not least Glass; you may not want to use it as a social network, replacing or augmenting Facebook and Twitter, but if you want Google services or hardware you’re going to end up a Google+ user on some level. The new Highlights feature in Google+ is the key to unlocking Glass’ usefulness as a lifelogger.
“The Highlights tab helps you find photos you’ll want to share by automatically curating the images you upload to Google+ photos” Google explained. “Highlights works by de-emphasizing duplicates, blurry images, and poor exposures while focusing on pictures with the people you care about, landmarks, and other positive attributes.”
For the moment, for most users, Highlights is a way of quickly cutting out duplicated shots. Take three or four pictures of your kids in the park, just to make sure they were all looking at the camera at the right time? Google+ Highlights will make sure you only see one, not all of the nearly-identical frames. No need to delete the others, just – as Gmail taught us with achive-not-delete email, a privilege of copious space and effective search – hide them from regular sight.
As the flow of photos into Google+ turns into a torrent, fueled not least by wearables, those vague “other positive attributes” Google mentions will become most important, however. Highlights is going to become not only a curator of your galleries, but of how you reminisce; how you look back on what you did, where you did it, and who you did it with.
Google can already identify buildings, and locations, and people. It knows who your friends are. Factor in Events, and the communal photo sharing feature, and that will help Google+ fill in even more of the gaps. If it knows you were with your best friend, and your best friend was in Paris at the time, and what a number of famous Parisian landmarks look like, it’ll be able to do a pretty good job at piecing together a curated “holiday memories” album that’s probably more detailed than your own recollection of the trip.
If you’re clenching various parts of your anatomy over fears about privacy, you’re probably right to. Even with only about 2,000 Glass Explorer Edition headsets made, the degree of controversy over what the rights and responsibilities around having photos taken in public and in private are is already exponentially greater. Those at Google I/O this past week are undoubtedly a tech-savvy, open-minded bunch, but the range of comfort levels reported about being in the Glass gaze is a telling sign that there’s more to this than just old-school versus new-school.
The discussion is going to be broader than Google, of course – a Memoto camera is arguably more discrete, clipped to your coat or shirt, and it’s almost certainly not going to be the last wearable camera – but how the companies involved process the data created is likely to be the biggest factor, and Google has a track-record of giving privacy advocates sleepless nights.
If Glass – and wearables along with lifelogging in general – is to succeed, however, this is a discussion that will have to be settled. We’re not talking about “how okay” it is for your email account to talk to your calendar account. If the EU decides there should be a clear division between those in the name of user privacy, then you might have to manually create appointments based on email conversations; if the huge and inevitable rush of photos and video that wearables will facilitate aren’t addressed, then Glass and its ilk will stumble and fail. Our new digital brain needs permission to work its magic, but we’re still in the early days of seeing just how magical that might be.
Google+ and Glass just got the upgrade for lifelogging everything is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.
Google’s short-lived Nexus Q has already been left out of the Google Play Music All Access action, but there looks to be a successor in the pipeline, with a new Google media player spotted in FCC testing. The Google H840 (product code H2G2-42, an apparent play on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) WiFi-testing listing has been pared back thanks to a confidentiality request, but the wireless report does confirm that it “functions as a media player” with 2.4GHz WiFi b/g/n connectivity.
Unfortunately there are no test photos, so we don’t know what the Google H840 looks like. The report suggests it was tested with a USB-connected Dell monitor, though that’s presumably to access either the LCD’s USB hub or its memory card slot, since that particular model doesn’t support video input over USB.
Anything else is, at this stage, speculative, though given the launch of Google Play Music All Access this past week at I/O, some sort of Sonos-style streaming box would seem an obvious guess. That could be hooked up to a set of external speakers or alternatively have onboard speakers and amplification.
Google isn’t the only company tipped to be working on a streaming media device. Earlier this month, it was rumored that Amazon’s hardware lab is developing a wireless audio adapter which could be used with its own cloud music locker service.
The Google H840 would presumably be a more focused device than the Nexus Q, which was unveiled at I/O in 2012 and then swiftly killed off as market feedback proved uncertain. The orb-shaped streamer was intended to funnel YouTube videos, music, and other content direct to a TV, with communal playlist control from multiple Android-powered phones and tablets.
However, a combination of high price – partly because Google intended it to be manufactured in the US – and confusing purpose meant the Nexus Q project was axed. Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Google would not be officially supporting the streamer with the All Access subscription music jukebox service.
The H840 (its H2G2-42 product code a combination of the fan abbreviation for Hitchhiker’s Guide and the “meaning of life”: the number 42) looks to be the second attempt at the market, though when Google will actually unveil it officially remains to be seen.
Google H840 media streamer hits FCC to potentially replace Nexus Q is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.
Google announced its subscription streaming service, Google Play Music All Access (wow that’s a mouthful), at Google I/O Wednesday. It’s all about harnessing the power of Google to provide you with stellar music recommendations, on your phone, tablet, or on …
Google I/O is always full of surprises, and we came across yet another elusive bit of hardware on the show floor today: Google Glass “prescription edition”. No, it’s not actually called that (we made up the name), but what you’re looking at is definitely Glass that’s been neatly integrated with a pair of prescription glasses — in fact, it looks a lot like the version of Glass that Google recently mentioned on its blog. We don’t really know anything else about this device, but we’ve reached out to Google for comment. Are these a custom design built by combining Google Glass Explorer Edition with off-the shelf eyewear? Is this a Glass prototype that’s designed specifically for people who wear prescription spectacles? Share your thoughts in the comments and don’t forget to check out the gallery below.
Brad Molen contributed to this report.
It’s a return to form here at Google I/O 2013, with none other than Google’s own Vice President of Android Product Management Hugo Barra letting us know that he’d personally fought hard for a more developer-focused single keynote address. As past years had been notably more consumer and product-focused than 2013, it’s not a flash-bang the company has gone for here, it’s a return to form: Google I/O in its purest form.
Google’s developer conference is home to more than just developers, of course: press, analysts, students, and Google lovers from all angles are invited, but this year the company had a more focused approach in mind. While the conference retained its three-day allotment of breakout sessions and fireside chats with Google’s own for developers of all types, the company’s initial keynote was limited to one day instead of two.
This single keynote was also toned down – significantly – especially compared to last year’s explosion of content: new devices, a new version of Android, and a skydive drop live with what was then called Project Glass. Larry Page stepped on stage to make an address to the developers and the public, taking part in an extended question-and-answer session as well, showing some extreme boldness answering whatever random queries attendees might have.
Because of these elements in the keynote – the most public and direct bit of the convention from Google, to be sure, the entire set of events was given what we suggested to Hugo Barra had given it all a more “human” vibe to I/O. This, he said was “exactly what we were aiming for.”
Google’s top guns stepped into the fray as well, with Googlers like Barra and Sergey Brin appearing for drinks and a chat with the press late on Day 1. There it was abundantly clear that this event was not simply made for developer training, but for person-to-person connectivity: another pillar the event was originally built on.
Our own Chris Davies lent some insight on this subject, his column “Google I/O and the year of the Context Ecosystem” speaking volumes about Google’s aim here in 2013.
“All of Google’s services are gradually interweaving. Google I/O 2013 is an ecosystem play, and it’s one of the biggest – and arguably ambitious – we’ve ever seen. It’ll drag Google+ with it along the way, and it might even kickstart the “internet of things” when we start to see some legitimate advantages of having every device a web-connected node.
Google didn’t give us a new phone for our pocket or a new tablet for our coffee table; instead, it gave us so much more.” – Chris Davies
What did you think of Google I/O 2013 from a consumer perspective? If you don’t consider yourself a consumer in this case – how did you take it all from whatever position you’re in?
Google I/O 2013 on-site Wrap-up: Glass, Developers, and Services on tap is written by Chris Burns & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.
I awoke aboard a boat, just before daybreak, which was weird. The last thing I remembered was being in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, wrapping up a four-hour Google I/O keynote liveblogging session. My last recollection was of Google CEO Larry …