Google updated its visual look across devices and screens with the fresh, new Material Design, and much more at Google I/O. Stay tuned for all the latest news out of the event.
Jun 27, 2014
Material world: how Google discovered what software is made of
“It is a sufficiently advanced form of paper as to be indistinguishable from magic.”Read Article >
Matias Duarte, vice president of design at Google, is telling me about the central principle of Material Design. It’s the unifying metaphor behind Google’s new design direction, providing a unified set of physics and rules for how software should look and act. It’s also a little weird.
Google's ATAP group is a 'band of pirates' making the future
The Advanced Technologies and Products group within Google is the kind of place where the smartest people on the planet might want to make their careers, but ATAP won't let them. Instead, it follows Regina Dugan's DARPA model of innovation: tiny teams pick ridiculously ambitious goals and then try to achieve them in two years — and achieve them at a real, meaningful scale.Read Article >
Three teams from ATAP presented their progress here at the Google I/O Developer conference. We saw Project Tango, which is making wild 3D-sensing, spatially-aware tablets. We also got an update on Project Ara, which is moving forward with modular smartphones. Finally, we saw a beautiful, touching video based on animations from Glen Keane, who has previously worked on many Disney films. Here, his work was translated into CGI for a short film called Duet, and it will later become an interactive story for the Moto X.
Jun 26, 2014
Android TV is Google's best chance yet to own your living room
Google wants Android on every device you use — on your wrist, in your car, on your TV. The long-rumored launch of Android TV at Google I/O is one of the most notable facets of that strategy: instead of the old, overly complex Google TV product that failed to gain adoption, Android TV is based on the exact software that’ll soon roll out to millions of phones and tablets. And while Google failed in the living room for years, the company is taking what it learned with Chromecast, Google Play, and Android to finally build a true competitor to Apple TV and Roku.Read Article >
Perhaps the most important lesson Google learned came from the extreme simplicity of Chromecast. Compared to the overly complex Google TV, Chromecast is a paragon of minimalism: there’s no interface, and everything is driven by your phone. Android TV is a step up, but using its various content and app stores will feel immediately familiar to anyone who has used a recent version of Android — particularly those familiar with the Google Play’s content and app stores.
Jun 26, 2014
You can now watch Google's entire two-and-a-half-hour I/O keynoteRead Article >
We've already gone over the most important announcements from yesterday's Google I/O keynote, but if you're after the small details, the entire presentation can now be streamed on demand. Google broadcasted the event live as it happened, but if you missed out, this is your chance to hear all about Material Design and the visual changes it's bringing to Android L. And of course there's plenty of time devoted to Android Wear, Android Auto, and Android TV too. The whole thing clocks in at over two and a half hours, so it may prove a bit much for one sitting. At the very least you can safely skip the video's first 17 minutes; the keynote gets underway at around the 18:35 mark.
Google turns on its crazy modular phone in public for the first time
Speaking today at Google I/O, the technical lead for Project Ara, Paul Eremenko, showed off the progress his team has made since we saw the very early first prototypes this past April. He showed off a functional, form-factor prototype. Which is a nerdy way of saying that for the first time publicly, we saw a modular Ara phone power on. It took its sweet time, but after several rounds of supportive applause from the audience, it booted. And froze. But over the course of the session, the team kept at it to get it past the boot screen (though to no avail). So not the most successful demonstration, but enough to show progress.Read Article >
Eremenko also announced a challenge for developers. A $100,000 prize for a working module that lets a phone do something that a phone has never done before, along with a trip to Ara's next developer conference.
Jun 26, 2014
Google's insane all-seeing Project Tango tablet is coming to consumers next year
The day after Google gave its developers a vision for the immediate future, Regina Dugan and the ATAP team — "a small band of pirates trying to do cool shit," as she calls them — have taken the stage to talk about a few slightly more ambitious things. One is Project Tango, the tablets and smartphones equipped with incredible cameras that allow them to see the world in 3D. We've seen it before in prototype form, but the team announced on Thursday that next year, it's partnering with LG to build a consumer tablet that will go on sale next year.Read Article >
The announcement came after a handful of demos that make clear how much potential Project Tango really has. "Imagine if the directions to your destination didn’t stop at the front door, but to tell you exactly where to go and what to do," program lead Johnny Lee told the audience. "The compute is here. The compute is genuinely here to do amazing things with our devices. What’s missing is the hardware and the software." He showed demos of mapping his house, playing a virtual-reality game that required him to squat with his tablet to chat with a very short wizard, and more. The whole story of Project Tango is the possibilities that arise when you've mapped the world around you, and what can happen when you're mapping it in real time.
Jun 26, 2014
iPhone or Android: it's time to choose your religion
It’s impossible for Google or Apple to introduce a new feature, let alone a whole new revision, to their mobile operating systems without it instantly being compared to the other’s alternative. The sparks that inflame heated discussions about who’s got the better notifications or smarter multitasking come right from the top of both companies. While unveiling Android L yesterday, Google’s Sundar Pichai took a subtle dig at Apple’s new iOS 8 by saying that custom keyboards and widgets "happened in Android four to five years ago." Three weeks earlier, Apple CEO Tim Cook was more direct in his critique:Read Article >
Many of [our new] customers were switchers from Android. They had bought an Android phone — by mistake — and then had sought a better experience. And a better life.Though both companies have embraced their adversarial relationship, their mobile platforms are actually growing more similar than different in their function and purpose. Apple has Continuity between iOS and OS X, while Google has synced notifications between Android and Chrome OS. One company’s HealthKit is the other’s Google Fit. The goal is the same for both: to build a comprehensive ecosystem of hardware, services, and apps that locks users in.
Jun 26, 2014
With Android One, Google is poised to own the entire world
In the developed world, smartphones are ubiquitous. They’re so common, many device makers have given up on selling non-smartphones entirely. But that’s not the case in the developing world, where consumers are still in transition. This market opportunity has often been referred to as "the next billion," and many companies have made it their priority to focus on it. Research firm IDC reports that in India, smartphone sales have exploded 186 percent in growth in just the last year, with 78 percent of sales coming from devices priced below $200.Read Article >
Nokia has made the next billion a big part of its business for years, first with the Asha line of phones, and now with its Android-powered Nokia X series. Nokia’s new parent, Microsoft, has also pushed its Windows Phone platform even lower in price in order to capture the rapid growth of emerging markets. Mozilla is doing the same with its Firefox OS platform.
Android Wear preview: this is how Google makes a smartwatch
After months of teases and previews, including yesterday's demo-mode units at Google's I/O developer conference, we've finally gotten the chance to try out Android Wear for ourselves. It's Google's take on the smartwatch, and that's more than just a way of saying it's an Android smartwatch. Instead, Android Wear is Google through and through, from the look and feel that foreshadows the coming "Material Design" aesthetic of Android to the deep integration with Google Search.Read Article >
After just a few hours with Android Wear on the LG G Watch, consider us impressed. The Pebble smartwatch shows how paring down features to the bare minimum is a compelling way to make something accessible, and the Galaxy Gear showed the potential of cramming in tons of features. But Wear splits that difference while adding the power of Google's voice search features. The result is a compelling combination of simplicity and surprising power.
Jun 25, 2014
You can now order an Android Wear smartwatch
The first Android Wear smartwatches are now available to order. Both the Samsung Gear Live and the LG G Watch have gone up for preorder on the Google Play Store, selling for $199 and $229 respectively. The LG G ships on July 3rd, while the Gear Live ships beginning July 8th.Read Article >
Of course, you might just want to hold off on any preorder for now. Motorola is working on an Android smartwatch for release later this summer, the Moto 360, and it's by far the best looking of the bunch.
Android Auto doesn't do much, and that's a good thing
The theme of this year's Google developer conference was putting Android everywhere, so it ought to be in the thing that takes people everywhere: the car. Android Auto works by plugging in an Android phone running the L operating system. The phone displays an "A" on the screen and you can no longer operate it. Instead, the phone sends up its information to your car's display. Google calls it "casting," but the key thing to know is that very little of the smarts of Android Auto live in the car's computer — the whole thing is run off of your phone.Read Article >
We sat down in a Hyundai on the floor of the Moscone Center in San Francisco and started hitting buttons. Unlike your average car audio system, Android Auto was responsive and quick. We were able to jump between the five main tabs without waiting around for the screen to refresh — it's nowhere near the speed you're used to on your phone, but it's worlds better than what car manufacturers usually saddle you with. Google says the nice thing about Android Auto is that it's tied to the upgrade cycle of your phone, not of your car, so you're more likely to get a faster, better experience in your car than you otherwise would. Most people upgrade their phone every couple of years, but their car stereo basically never. Android Auto would change that.
Here's why two protesters disrupted Google's biggest event of the year
by Lessley Anderson and Josh LowensohnRead Article >
The first protester to stand up was Claudia Tirado, a third grade teacher at San Francisco's Fairmount Elementary School, who currently faces eviction from her home in the Mission District — just minutes away from where Google's press conference took place. Tirado rose suddenly in the middle of a presentation by Google's Android engineering director David Burke, who somehow managed to keep going on as if nothing was happening.
Jun 25, 2014
Where was Glass at Google I/O?
Google Glass was totally invisible at I/O 2014.Read Article >
Two years ago, Google co-founder Sergey Brin had a friend put on Glass and stream his dive from a plane to the top of San Francisco's Moscone Center. The mood was one of excitement and almost awe — few people had even seen Glass in person at that point, let alone used it. Things were quieter at the I/O 2013 keynote, but workshops later in the week taught developers how to work with their headsets, which had started arriving just a month earlier. "There's a real opportunity for Glass to become mainstream," said product director Steve Lee in a fireside chat.
Jun 25, 2014
Android, Android, Android: watch Google I/O 2014 in under nine minutesRead Article >
The keynote for Google's IO 2014 developer conference, as it is wont to do in years past, is nearly three hours. This highlight reel of all the big news, events, and happenings is nearly nine minutes — which, if we're being very aggressively vague and rounding numbers, is 1/20th the size. Think of the savings! Enjoy Google I/O.
Up close with the Moto 360, the best-looking smartwatch yet
The Moto 360 isn't actually that big. It's solid and high-end, and it's definitely in the larger end of the smartwatch spectrum, but it quickly felt natural on my wrist. Light, round, and comfortable. We've just had our first chance to spend some real time with the device after Google's keynote at I/O, and after seeing all the available options it's easy to say the 360 is my favorite of the bunch so far.Read Article >
It comes in a couple of different colors, each with a unique band, but the black-on-black is probably my favorite option. The 360 has a big, round screen that goes completely edge to edge except for one small cutout at the bottom – that's where the display drivers are, I'm told, and it was essentially an unavoidable design oddity. The screen feels big and bright, and is extremely responsive. We had a chance to use one of the demo models in "retail mode," but also to take a look at a Motorola executive's personal device, and it works just as well as the demonstration.
A first look at the LG G Watch
On the third floor of the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA, Android Wear devices are starting to come out of the woodwork. The latest: the LG G Watch, perhaps the default Google-powered smartwatch for the moment. We've had a few minutes to test one out and do everything but put it on our wrists (which was strictly forbidden by a shockingly stern blonde man), and one thing seems already clear: the first batch of Android Wear smartwatches is as good as it is uniform.Read Article >
The G Watch is an incredibly simple device. Drab, even. It's just a black square, a screen and very little else. Its 1.65-inch screen dominates the device, and it looks good enough, though not anything special. There's also a gray rubber strap that's essentially like a cheaper version of your average watch strap, not the strange clasp-y mechanism on the Gear Live. Once again, the device's software worked only in "retail mode," meaning it could do a few things and recognize a few commands but hardly offered the full breadth of the Android Wear experience.
This is the Gear Live, Samsung's $199 Android Wear smartwatch
Wearables were everywhere today at Google I/O, but there was only one truly new product announced: the Gear Live, Samsung's Android Wear-running smartwatch. And we've had a chance to spend a few minutes playing with a demo unit — it's only able to do a few things right now, but we have our best sense yet of what Android Wear hardware and software will look like. This is one of the key devices for Android Wear, one of the watches being given to all attendees of the conference, and at first glance it's quite nice.Read Article >
The Gear Live is big, as most Android Wear watches seem to be, but it's quite well-made. It has a big, bright display, chrome everywhere, and a big rubbery band — it all looks a lot like the latest Gear 2, and that's certainly no accident. There's only one obvious button, and the only other things except screen and bezel are the heart-rate monitor and pins on the bottom for wireless charging. There's a big bezel around the 1.63-inch display, and the screen itself is a little bit washed out — and it's also hard to read in direct light. There's a slightly complicated clasp on the watch, but once it's on the whole thing feels more or less like a Pebble or any similar smartwatch. This is basically a cleaned-up version of the Gear 2 running Android Wear instead of Tizen.
The 17 most important things Google announced at I/O
Google’s main event of the year, I/O 2014, was chock-full of news: some expected, some decidedly not. The company showed off a colorful and playful new design style for all of its products, as well as a new version of Android, codenamed “L,” that won’t arrive until later this year. Google debuted a cheap but elegant Android One phone to court buyers on a budget. Android was everywhere at the developer conference: on smartwatches, in car dashboards, and even on your body with Android Fit, a new platform for fitness wearables and apps designed to rival Apple’s HealthKit.Read Article >
But the carefully planned announcements may have all been upstaged by two vocal protesters: one calling Google to task for San Francisco housing evictions and the other warning about killer robots. Both were quickly escorted from the scene. The developer conference continues through the week, but it’s hard to imagine any bigger news coming after day one’s lively keynote.
Jun 25, 2014
Android TV hands-on: Google makes a new play for the living room
Google hasn't exactly been successful at taking over the living room — Chromecast aside, its previous efforts have failed to capture much consumer interest. However, during the I/O 2014 keynote today, the company showed that it is ready to start fresh with Android TV. It's a new platform that combines live TV via your cable box or even an over-the-air antenna along with Android apps and services like Google Play to offer up a more simplified way to get content to your TV than the older Google TV model.Read Article >
As shown on stage, Android TV is a much-simplified approach that focuses on having quick access to content you'll want to watch. The main area of the screen highlights suggested shows from Google Play and other apps you have installed. Scrolling down, you'll find every app you've added from the Google Play Store to your TV, and there's also a separate area for games. Those games can be controlled either with your Android phone or with a Xbox-style controller.
Google's Cardboard turns your Android device into a VR headset
While Facebook's virtual reality effort involved a multibillion-dollar purchase of Oculus VR, Google's gone with a decidedly simpler route: cardboard. Following the end of its Google I/O keynote, Google's put out an app called Cardboard that lets users slot their Android device into a do-it-yourself cardboard viewer. When looked through using special lenses, you can interact with various Google services like a VR headset.Read Article >
Google responds to Apple's Healthkit with Google Fit
Google announced Google Fit today, a platform to organize all of the data from various health trackers and sensors. It's very similar to the approach Apple is taking with its recently announced Healthkit service for iOS. Apps will be able to access a user's complete fitness profile, with data blended from multiple devices and services.Read Article >
Google announced a number of partners that it is working with for Google Fit, including Nike, Adidas, Withings, RunKeeper, and Basis. Developers will be able to access the software development kit in the coming weeks.
Google finally has a true Office competitor for mobile
Today at its annual Google I/O conference, the company finally found a way to make its mobile office solution sensible. It announced several pieces of the Office puzzle that finally make its productivity suite something that's comprensible to the average consumer and a legitimate competitor to Microsoft's Office suite on mobile.Read Article >
The first is that Google's presentation software, Slides, is now available on mobile. It will be available today on Android and will also come on iOS once it receives App Store approval. Like Docs and Sheets, it's a standalone app that sits apart from Google Drive, which is mostly focused on storage now — though all four apps are still tightly integrated. More importantly, Google has finally made it so those apps can handle Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files natively without conversion. Previously, users were forced to resort to yet another app, QuickOffice, which the company acquired in 2012.
Jun 25, 2014
Google announces Drive for Work with unlimited storage at $10 a month
Google's suite of productivity software has been making inroads against competitors like Microsoft Office, and the company is ratcheting up the pressure with Drive for Work. As announced today at Google's I/O conference, the program will offer unlimited storage on Google Drive for just $10 a month per user — and will accept files up to 5TB in size. In addition, Drive for Work will include enhanced administration controls better suited for corporate environments, and a set of APIs that will help administrators keep track of the work employees are doing.Read Article >
It's just one of several tweaks to Google Drive and its related apps that the company announced today. A new "suggested edits" feature will assist users that need more sophisticated redlining features for collaboration, and thanks to the integration of Quickoffice users can natively edit files from Microsoft Office in the Docs, Sheets, and Slides applications. According to Google, Drive has 190 million users that have been active for 30 days or longer, and 58 percent of Fortune 500 companies now use Google services — and with the addition of Drive for Work we wouldn't be surprised to see those numbers increase in the coming year. It's available globally starting today.
Google's Chrome OS now plays better with phones
Google's making its Chrome OS work better for people with Android devices. A new feature announced at its annual I/O developer conference today lets users unlock their Chrome OS device using their phone automatically. Notifications that pop up on either device will also now show up on the other, so users don't need to go back and forth.Read Article >
Android can now keep your work and personal lives separate
Google today announced a new feature coming to Android that will make it easier for companies to deploy Android devices to their employees. The new data separation feature lets both corporate and persona applications coexist on a the same device, without having their data shared between them. Companies will be able to deploye apps in bulk and manage data on devices remotely.Read Article >
A number of companies have developed similar, third-party systems for Android already, with Samsung's Knox platform being the most common. Google says that Samsung actually contributed a lot of its technology to Android to make this new feature possible, though this new service isn't limited to just Samsung devices. The data separation app will be available for devices with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and above, including those made by Motorola, LG, HTC, and Sony.