Google I/O kicked off in San Francisco yesterday, here’s a quick summary of what happened, for those of your who missed it…
Google announced a new mobile hardware platform for emerging markets (although one could argue that there is no such thing anymore) and beyond, Android One will enable phone manufacturers to create cost-efficient less expensive Android phones in developing markets for a sales price that is under $100. Android One will be launching in India this fall. This initiative is meant to produce high quality affordable smartphones at scale, since only 10% of the worlds population have currently access to smartphones.
My take: great idea. We need to get smartphones to everyone.
Android L & Material Design
The next version of Android (called L for some strange reason – what couldn’t they come up with a candy which starts with the letter L – I mean what about Lollipop or Licorice? My guess: they could find a sponsor like they did with Kit Kat. Why not Laffy Taffy, Lifesavers or Lemonheads?) Should be available in a preview version for developers shortly. Along with the new version of its operating system, Google introduced Material Design, which unifies user interfaces across devices for Android, web, apps, tablets and phones. Features include dynamic shrinking and expanding of elements, a more 3 dimensional look emphasized by shadows and bold colors. (learn more here)
My take: Looks like everyone is feeding off each other in the interface space: Google borrows from both Microsoft (who started the whole “flat design” thing with Metro) and Apple (who did the same). Everyone rips bits off everyone else and in the end, while the interfaces all start looking the same – some would say not innovative – at least transitioning from one OS to the other is effortless. But at least Google is finally trying hard to improve their designs: sometimes they lean towards function over form, which is fine by me – since I’m a techie – but for the mass market, Apple has proven that people will live with less than stellar functionality if the thing looks good. I wonder if that speaks to the superficiality of our current culture? (It’s whats outside that counts – ask any Tinder user )
They officially rolled out Android Wear, demonstrating some of the features. About time. I don’t know about you but I’m loving the look of the Moto 360. They did say that design was huge in wearables, and we are starting to finally see some well designed wearables. I wonder if they’ll ever admit that Google Glass was a flub from a design perspective.
Like Carplay for Apple, Google announced Android Auto, an Android platform for the car. The operating system is completely voice enabled, so that the driver can keep their hands on the wheel and the eyes on the road. Google is also releasing the Android Auto SDK for developers to create apps for the platform. No surprises here, but I noticed zero overlap between the automakers who signed with Apple and those who signed with Google. Be funny if you decide your car make based on if they support your phones OS, but stranger things have happened.
My take: Yes, Google needs to be in the car as well, as Apple was playing there. This is a purely competitive play. The innovation will come from machine control of car systems in order to provide a seamless experience.
Google announced its Google Fit health data platform. Within the next couple of weeks, Google will release a set of Google Fir API’s to developers. Data can be collected from various devices, as well as biometric data.
My take: Again, this is a competitive play. Both Apple and Google are playing catch up in this space. Fitbit has the fitness wearable market locked down for the moment. If they were smart, they’d write the Fit / HealthKit spec in order to keep their market lead. And they are pretty smart over there…
Google takes another kick at the TV cat by announcing Android TV almost more of a branding play attempting to tie together features and devices that make consuming content easier. Android TV can be used “just like a Chromecast”.
My take: Another shot at trying to unify the smart TV market – lets see if this one works out…
My final take: not much really new and innovative here, much like WWDC, it seems that they are saving the really good stuff for outside of these kinds of events.