Google used its biggest event of the year to reveal a major overhaul to Google Maps, an ambitious messaging initiative called Hangouts, and a redesigned Google+ filled with new features. The three-day long Google I/O is taking place between Wednesday, May 15th and Friday the 17th for 2013. Google has a lot in store for the event, and you can follow along here for the latest.
May 17, 2013
It's easy to miss the Google TV booth here at I/O 2013, hidden in the corner of the third floor. That may not be an accident: there was apparently no room in the company's sprawling three-and-a-half-hour keynote to mention Google TV, either, just a short blog post hours later announcing that it now runs the latest version of Android. So in a sea of new products, services, and pitches to developers, we couldn't help but wonder: is TV dead? Google has killed plenty of products with many more fans than Google TV — will it go the way of Reader?Read Article >
We've been told that Google TV isn't going away — the company can't give up, because the market and opportunity are too large. But Google's changing its approach to your living room, beginning with the update this week. Google TV is now based on Android 4.2.2, the latest version of the operating system, and offers developers much more — when Google TV first started three years ago, the team forked Android to build the OS, and a source described this update as "bending the fork back in." Google TV is Android, and Android is Google TV — or it will be, whenever the update becomes available. It’s what Google TV should have been from day one.
May 17, 2013
Google Glass in its current form might be the ultimate early-adopter status symbol, but project leaders at Google think it will grow into a broadly-accepted product. "There's a real opportunity for Glass to become mainstream," product director Steve Lee said today at Google I/O. "We were surprised at how quickly there was a positive reaction."Read Article >
Lee was speaking to a large crowd gathered for a "fireside chat" on the future of Glass, and his comments were echoed by other Google employees on stage. "We want Glass to have a big positive impact on the world," said designer Isabelle Olsson. Engineer Charles Mendis said he thought Glass would "drive forward certain types of technologies," particularly battery development. That's heady talk for a platform that will have just 10,000 units in the wild over the next few months: Google has completed inviting the 2,000 Glass Explorers who signed up at last year's I/O conference, and will soon start inviting the 8,000 people selected from the #ifihadglass social marketing campaign. "It's exciting that group isn't developers," said Lee. "It's a nice cross section: teachers, athletes, DJs, dentists, hairstylists, all sorts of people."
The team behind Google Glass defended its creation against privacy worries in a Google I/O fireside chat with developers on Thursday. When asked what the privacy implications of Glass' head-mounted display and camera are, Steve Lee, Glass' product director, said the device was built to alleviate these concerns before it even shipped.Read Article >
"Privacy was top of mind as we designed the product," Lee said, adding that he's proud of the way his team has designed Glass. Early prototypes covered a user's eyes rather than placing the display above the eye. But Google discovered quickly how important eye contact is to Glass, he said. "You'll know when someone with Glass is paying attention to you," Lee said. "If you're looking at Glass, you're looking up."
Google doesn't want any reselling of Google Glass, and it will even shut down some key functionality if you even try to log into the headset with multiple Google Accounts. But that doesn't mean you can't hack into Glass at all. In fact, Google is encouraging hacking, albeit with clear boundaries.Read Article >
At Google I/O on Thursday, the company hosted a workshop called "Voiding Your Warranty: Hacking Glass," that focused on what's possible if you were to root the prototype hardware — namely, running experimental apps. The reason Google hosted this workshop is to proactively address the inevitable roadblocks that developers will run into when loading early versions of their Glass apps onto the Explorer Edition hardware, which runs a modified version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), said Hyunyon Song, a Google X software engineer working on building the forthcoming Glass SDK.
May 16, 2013
One of yesterday's big Google I/O announcements was the launch of Google Play game services, a cross-platform tool that will sync progress, achievements. and other gaming data on Android, the web, and even iOS. So what's to become of Google+ Games, a feature ripped pretty closely from Facebook that that the company touted when the service was introduced two years ago? Well, Google has confirmed that it'll be shut down as of June 30th — when that happens, users will have to find another source to play their favorite Google+ games. Google helpfully included a list of major developers and contact info in its post announcing the shutdown to both let users find another place to play their games and also to find out what'll happen with any payments for in-game items players might have made.Read Article >
All in all, Google+ Games never really took off, and we're not exactly sorry to see it go as Google tries to tighten up its vision of a social network rather than just mimic popular Facebook features — photos and direct communication via Hangouts are two big and obvious priorities. With the impending launch of Google Play game services and their availability on the web, we're expecting to see Google's browser-based gaming presence grow, so cutting back on Google+ Games shouldn't be a major loss.
May 16, 2013
Until now only two third-party apps have been available for Google Glass: The New York Times and Path. Thankfully that's about to change. Today at Google I/O we learned that several new apps (or "glassware" as the company refers to them) are coming to Google's headset including Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, Tumblr, CNN, and Elle. Twitter for Glass lets users post photos to their timeline — these tweets are automatically tagged with "#throughglass" — and they'll also receive alerts for mentions, direct messages, and so on.Read Article >
May 16, 2013
In the market for cloud infrastructure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominates, powering websites and applications like Netflix, Reddit, and Dropbox, and raking in massive revenues — estimated to grow to $8.8 billion this year. But there are lots of players, ranging from smaller companies like Rackspace to big ones like Microsoft. One such player is Google, which over the past five years has been working to let developers tap into its massive data center infrastructure, first with App Engine — a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for hosting web apps, and more recently with Compute Engine — a competitor to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) that lets you pay Google to do your heavy computing. Today, Google announced some significant updates to both, adding PHP support in App Engine, and opening up Compute Engine to every developer that wants to use it. It also announced Google Cloud Storage, which competes with Amazon’s Dynamo DB database solution.Read Article >
Google App Engine is similar to AWS, but it's a step more removed — infrastructure solutions like AWS require (allow) you to get your hands dirty administering your own servers, but Google’s option will take care of all of the optimization and scaling for you. Up until now, App Engine has only supported Java, Python, and the company’s own Go language, but today’s announcement adds PHP to the mix. As Ars Technica points out, that means that App Engine could now be used to host PHP applications like your WordPress blog. Access to PHP support is being rolled out over time, and is currently in limited preview.
May 16, 2013
The best cellphone hardware has been crippled by manufacturer and carrier bloatware and skins, and Google's Nexus lineup has been hamstrung by a lack of LTE and somewhat inadequate specifications. But we've just gotten a look at the big surprise of Google's I/O keynote, a Samsung Galaxy S4 running stock Android, and suddenly we have visions of a world in which we don't have to choose between features and design, between timely updates and cutting-edge specs.Read Article >
May 16, 2013
Hangouts, the new Google messaging service that unifies the company's disparate offerings in the space, will eventually be available on Glass. Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of engineering, told ABC News' Joanna Stern that Hangouts would be able to provide Glass with more social functionality.Read Article >
No details were given on what features the app will have or how it will work on Glass, though it seems an obvious fit for the heads-up display — Glass already lets you host video chats and see notifications from services such as Google+. Gundotra didn't elaborate on when the app might be made available; with Glass's consumer release still some way off, though, it's unlikely that many will get to use it any time soon.
May 16, 2013
Google today announced Play Music All Access, a music service with subscription features that competes with Spotify and Rdio — building on Google's existing music store and cloud service that competes with iTunes and Amazon. That's a compelling mix of features, but Google still faces plenty of challenges as it attempts to establish itself as a credible competitor in the rapidly changing music space.Read Article >
"For now, we have a version 1.0 of what's possible," Google Play lead product manager Paul Joyce told The Verge. "We had a vision and it's taken us time to build out that vision. We look at All Access as a complement to the locker, which we felt we had to build first."
Recon Instruments has been building heads-up display headgear for years, but until Google Glass showed up, not many people understood what exactly the company was trying to sell. "Google being in this space makes it easier for us to explain what we do," said Shane Luke, Recon's VP of product management at Google I/O today. "People aren't so confused by our products anymore." The company's next product, the Jet, is a pair of sunglasses built for bike riders, kayakers, runners and general athletes.Read Article >
Like Google Glass — and Recon's ski and snowboarding goggles — the Jet displays various information on a small screen near a wearer's field of vision. And like Glass, the Jet is currently a first generation prototype that you can't easily get your hands on. As with most prototype products, the Jet currently feels like an unfinished idea. It's unpolished and creaked when I put a pair on. It was tough getting the display in my line of sight because it wasn't adjustable — Luke promised this would change in the production version of Jet.
May 15, 2013
I/O is Google’s biggest event of the year, a three-day soiree for the company and its developers to talk about the present and future of Google’s products. It’s also the week Google tends to make its biggest announcements — from the Nexus 7 to Google TV, Chrome to Glass and everything in between, Google plays its biggest cards every year in the middle of May.Read Article >
This year’s rumors began almost as soon as last year’s I/O ended. Would 2013 be the year Google merged Chrome OS and Android into a single operating system, under Sundar Pichai’s leadership? Would Google release a new tablet (or several)? Was Google Now poised to take over the internet? What about new apps for Glass? Add in Google’s penchant for device giveaways — last year’s attendees went home with a Chromebook, Chromebox, Nexus 7, Nexus Q, and Galaxy Nexus – and the expectations were through the roof.
After months of rumors, it's finally here: Google has launched an unlimited subscription music service to take down competitors like Spotify and Rdio. The service exists as a $9.99-per-month upgrade to Google Music called All Access, and it's available today on the web and Android devices (US only). We've spent some time with All Access to see if it's worth your while to swap to Google's new offering.Read Article >
May 15, 2013
From Hangouts to Maps, Google announced a host of new features across a variety of products during its 2013 I/O keynote. But if you missed watching it live, combing through all three-and-a-half hours of the event may require a bit more effort than you're willing to put in. Luckily, we've picked out the most important news and packed it into about three-and-a-half minute supercut. And don't worry, Larry Page isn't planning on sending you to an island — unless you want to.Read Article >
It didn't receive any attention on stage at Google I/O today, but Google hasn't forgotten about its ongoing effort to take over the living room with Google TV. The company is today updating the platform to the latest version of Android (4.2.2 Jelly Bean) and is promising that under-the-hood changes will help its manufacturing partners deliver quicker updates moving forward. Specifically, Google says this will make it possible to update Google TV hardware in "weeks rather than months."Read Article >
Google TV is also being brought up to date with the latest version of Chrome. Like the core OS, Chrome for Google TV will now be on a faster update cycle — every six weeks, to be exact. More importantly, this latest version of Chrome introduces support for hardware-based content protection, an addition that should make developers (and content producers) less wary about bringing copyrighted video to their apps.
May 15, 2013
YouTube Live, the live streaming service that YouTube first launched in limited beta over two years ago, is finally expanding to a much wider audience. Starting today, all YouTube channels with over 1,000 subscribers each will gain the ability to broadcast live video content to their viewers on all devices. Previously, YouTube only offered live streaming to select partner accounts and video game developers.Read Article >
The new Live features include multiple camera angles and the ability for users to skip around on the stream as it is playing. Channel operators can apply for the new YouTube Live streaming features by checking a box at the bottom of their "Account Features" page. YouTube has also been slowly rolling out paid live-streaming features — including subscriptions and pay-per-view — to some partner accounts, but it's unclear if today's expansion will bring these paid live-streaming features to more accounts as well.
Google CEO Larry Page is holding a rare Q&A session with attendees of today's Google I/O keynote, and he's been offering up some pretty unfiltered answers. In response to a question about reducing negativity and focusing on changing the world, Page noted that "the pace of change is increasing" and said that "we haven't adapted systems to deal with that." Specifically, he said that "not all change is good" and said that we need to build "mechanisms to allow experimentation."Read Article >
That's when his response got really interesting. "There are many exciting things you could do that are illegal or not allowed by regulation," Page said. "And that's good, we don't want to change the world. But maybe we can set aside a part of the world." He likened this potential free-experimentation zone to Burning Man and said that we need "some safe places where we can try things and not have to deploy to the entire world." Google is already well-known for coming up with some pretty interesting ideas — the idea of seeing what Page could come up with in this lawless beta-test country is simultaneously exciting and a bit terrifying.
Google I/O this year has a stronger developer focus than in years past, which meant that consumer-facing products sometimes didn't get much airtime during the keynote. That's certainly the case for the new version of Google Maps, available today as an opt-in preview. As we discussed in our early look at Maps, it's a complete redesign from the ground up, with edge-to-edge content and very little UI chrome to get in your way.Read Article >
We tested Google Maps on a Chromebook Pixel, no slouch when it comes to power. It handled the new vector-based mapping features without any issue, though once we tucked into some fast transitions within the Google Earth features we did detect a little stutter — though differentiating between touchscreen issues and map issues can be difficult. Google says that it has done a lot to speed up Maps, reducing latency and even providing some visual cues like an animated pin to help make the half-second wait for more information less obvious. That Google Earth integration here is cool, but it's not quite as powerful as the standalone app. Even so, it's hard not to consider this the world's most advanced web app; it approaches the speed you'd expect from a native app and it's tied to one of the biggest and most complex data sets you're likely to ever use.
Google IO this year has a stronger developer focus than it has in years past, which meant that consumer facing products sometimes didn't get much airtime during the keynote. That's certainly the case for the new version of Google Maps, available today as an opt-in preview. As we discussed in our early look at Maps, it's a complete redesign from the ground up, with edge-to-edge maps and very little UI chrome to get in your way.Read Article >
We tested Google Maps on a Chromebook Pixel, no slouch when it comes to power. It handled the new vector-based mapping features without any issue, though once we tucked into some fast transitions within the Google Earth features, we did detect a little stutter — though differentiating between touchscreen issues and map issues can be difficult. Google says that it has done a lot to speed up Maps — reducing latency and even providing some visual cues like an animated pin to help make the half-second wait for more information less obvious. That Google Earth integration here is cool, but it's not quite as powerful as the standalone app. Even so, its hard not to consider this the world's most advanced web app — it approaches the speed you'd expect from a native app and it's tied to one of the biggest and most complex data sets you're likely to ever use.
May 15, 2013
Google's annual marathon press conference has wrapped up, and so have we. This is The Verge Live: Google I/O 2013. Join Joshua Topolsky, Chris Ziegler, and friends as we break down all the big news of today and what it means for Google and its future. There might be actual androids, but we make no promises that you'll be able to figure out who.Read Article >
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Google CEO Larry Page just made a surprise appearance at Google I/O, and despite his still-weak voice, he mustered a joking exchange with tech evangelist (and internet-famous) Robert Scoble. Scoble ran up and asked the CEO about Google Glass, but before he did Page joked with him: "Robert, I really didn't appreciate the shower photo." Page was, of course, referring to a picture Scoble posted of himself taking a shower with Google Glass alongside the caption "You thought I was kidding when I said I would never take them off." Well played, Page.
May 15, 2013
As Google I/O's opening keynote neared its close, co-founder Larry Page took the stage to offer a somber but optimistic take on technology's future, asking the tech world to "create things that don't exist" instead of being dragged down by negativity. While comparing earlier views of computing as a "passing fad" to our present high-tech world, Page still said developers have "barely scratched the surface of what's possible." Page said that "we haven't seen this rate of change in computing for a very long time, probably since the birth of computing, citing the optimism of technologists.Read Article >
Nonetheless, he worried that "we're really only at one percent of what we can do... we're really moving slow." Part of that, he said, was due to negativity and infighting. "Every story I read about Google is about us versus some other company, or something else, and I really don't find that interesting. We should be building things that don't exist." Being negative, he said, "is not how we make progress," and "not every new technology is zero-sum."
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. A lone search box in the upper left gives you access to Maps’ features, as does clicking on elements within the map. Google has integrated Google Now’s card metaphor to present information from a newly built-in version of Google Earth, reviews from Zagat and Google+, Street View, and directions. And new user interface tweaks surface locations and transit routes before you even search for them.Read Article >
Like its larger desktop counterpart, Google has revealed that it's giving Maps for mobile its own design overhaul. Well, one half of it, anyway. Android users will soon receive the updated UI and features first delivered in the company's Maps app for iOS. But the changes are more than skin deep: 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.Read Article >
Google also finally plans to deliver an iPad version of Google Maps when the new design becomes available "this summer." A tablet-sized iOS release has been missing since iPhone users first got the app last December.
As part of the updates to Google Search being introduced at I/O, Google Now is also getting a nice update with some new cards. Probably the most useful is a new voice reminders tool — you can tell your Android device to remind you to do something, and it'll bring up a quick dialog to let you set a specific time and then tap once to save the reminder. It's quite similar to adding reminders in iOS with Siri, though it appears there's no dedicated app to manage them.Read Article >
Other new cards include public transportation data and a a list of new upcoming books, music, or movies you might be interested in (gleaned from your Google Play history, no doubt). There's also some new personal search features for those signed up with the Gmail search field trial — you can ask Google Now to send emails or search for specific photos you've saved in Google+. These features are available for Android now; the Google Search app update is live in Google Play.