Google's main event of the year was full of announcements, from an entirely new look across all Google products, to super-budget Android smartphones, PC-quality gaming on your smartphone, and Android on your wrist, car and in your TV. Here's everything you need to know from Google I/O 2014.
Google unveiled Android L at I/O, which includes some 5000 new APIs. The biggest change in L is Material Design, a new design aesthetic that goes beyond Android L and represents a unified new look and feel for all of Google's platforms, extending from phones to tablets, to the Web and desktop. Material Design adds shadows, subtle textures and bright colors to Android, and a shift from square icons to round ones. There’s a dynamic depth effect too, with apps and information boxes sliding over each other and disappearing when closed. Google has also made a slight tweak to its system-wide Roboto font, which is now a bit wider and rounder, making it easier to read on small display devices like a smartwatch.
Android L will include support for 64-bit processors and will also be the first version of Android to run exclusively on ART, the Android runtime successor to Dalvik that was introduced with KitKat. This should mean that future apps will have better overall performance, better memory management, and lower power draw, resulting in more battery life. Android L also comes with a new "Extension Pack" that offers what Google claims are "PC gaming" capabilities on high-end smartphones and tablets. It does this by facilitating higher-fidelity graphics techniques such as tessellation and geometry shading in Android games. This should better capture the potential of powerful chips like NVIDIA's Tegra K1.
While Google has hit some impressive stats, including 1 billion active users, 20 billion texts and 93 million selfies a day, Android Chief, Sundar Pichai, noted that that only covers a fraction of the world’s population. As such, Google will be ramping up its efforts to reach people who so far haven’t been able to afford a smartphone. Google’s new Android One reference platform is designed specifically for developing markets, and uses stock Android and low-cost parts. Pichai showed off an example developed by Micromax, which has a 4.5-inch display, dual SIM card slots and an FM radio, all for under US$100.
Android L won’t just be available on your phone, tablet, smartwatch, and TV, it’s also coming to your car. Simply sync your smartphone with your car’s integrated display, and you can control everything else via the navigation buttons on your steering wheel or through voice commands. You can get directions and plan routes through Google Maps, send messages with a speech-to-text API, and find and play music, among other things. There’s also a Google Now-style home screen that can give you a basic overview of what’s going on.
Google’s Android TV is a natural progression from Google TV and Chromecast. Running natively on your TV or on a separate set-top box, Android TV will stream content from the Google Play Store, as well as partners like Netflix and Hulu. Like the Chromecast, you can also broadcast content straight from your smartphone, tablet or notebook. Search will also be an integral part of Android TV, and it will be able to provide additional contextual information about your favorite shows and actors. One of the features that sets Android TV apart from other similar devices will be its cross-platform gaming capabilities. Devices will come with a controller, and gamers will be able to play multiplayer Google Play Games online with friends playing on their own Android smartphones and tablets.
Google I/O 2014 News & Articles
NEWS / 30 Jun 2014 / By Sidney Wong
You can now try Google's new keyboard from the Android L Developer Preview by downloading it from the Play Store. It is free and should work on devices running Android 4.0 and above.
NEWS / 27 Jun 2014 / By Sidney Wong
Dave Burke, the head of Android engineering and the Nexus program at Google shot down rumors that the Nexus brand will be dropped in favor of the upcoming Android Silver program.
NEWS / 27 Jun 2014 / By James Lu
Google's Project Tango, its engineering concept that will let devices see the environment around them the same way the human eye does, got a lot closer to consumer hands today when Google announced it will be partnering with LG to bring a Project Tango tablet to market as early as 2015.
NEWS / 27 Jun 2014 / By James Lu
Google showed off a (nearly) working prototype of its Project Ara modular smartphone concept at Google I/O today, and also shared more insights into the progression of the project, including why it is investing in a 3D printer that can print 50 times faster than traditional 3D printers.
NEWS / 27 Jun 2014 / By Vijay Anand
At just US$10 per month per user, Google Drive for Work offers unlimited storage along with business class security, ultra large file uploads and more. Should competitive cloud storage solution providers like Microsoft OneDrive be concerned? More details after the jump.
Following the success of the Chromecast and Google TV, Google is renewing its efforts in the living room by announcing Android TV. Running on Google's just-announced Android L, Android TV will stream content from various sources, just like Google TV and set top boxes, but with an added focus on gaming.
Google showed off the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, and Moto 360 smartwatches running its Android Wear software at Google I/O today. LG and Samsung's devices will be available for order on the Google Play Store later today, while Motorola's watch will launch later this year.
We still don't know if its Lollypop, Liquorice or Lemon Meringue, but we do know that Google's Android L Developer Preview will bring with it an all-encompassing visual reboot that will span the entire user experience. Meet "Material Design".
NEWS / 25 Jun 2014 / By Sidney Wong
Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Google, revealed to Business Week that he will be giving a preview of the next Android version at Google I/O 2014.
NEWS / 23 Jun 2014 / By Sidney Wong
Google may be partnering with HTC to manufacture the next Nexus tablet. Known internally as the Nexus 9, the tablet is alleged to sport an 8.9-inch display and NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor. Hit the link to find out more.