The Google I/O 2011 has been filled with ambitious new developments from the search giant. Besides the Google Chromebook, Google Music and the next version of Android dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, Google also introduced its movie rental service (just after YouTube announced a similar service), Android Open Accessory (bringing innovation to the next level with hardware), and Android@Home (interacting with home appliances with an Android powered device).
You can watch the keynote on YouTube if you’ve missed the live stream, but if you don’t have an hour to spare, read on for a summary:
Typical number crunching for the start of the conference. As of 2011, Android has:
- Activated 100 million devices worldwide
- 36 OEM’s, 215 carriers and 450,000 developers
- 310 different devices across 112 countries
- 400,000 device activations daily
- One billion apps downloads in the last 60 days
- 4.5 billion application installs
Honeycomb Upgrade – Android 3.1
The upgrade includes:
- Task switcher for recently opened apps. True multitasking with automatic resource management.
- Resizable widgets on home screens
- Android device as USB host — this makes it possible to use USB peripherals, like importing photos right from your camera and connecting input devices like a USB keyboard, mouse or joystick.
- Android 3.1 will be coming to Google TV, along with Android Market
Next Android version – Ice Cream Sandwich
- One OS everywhere – Honeycomb features and UI will be on all Android devices, including smartphones, tablets and everything in between
- New API and framework to help scale UI across Android devices with different form factors
- Face-detection technology. When two people use the same Android device for video chat, the camera can detect who’s talking and zoom into his/her face. It’ll be available to developers via API
- Rent movies from Android Market through the web or Android devices
- 1,000 titles will be available to rent, starting at $1.99
- Rented movies will be available across all Android devices (tablets or smartphones) and on the web — all tied to your Google account
- Once you started watching, you have 24 hours to complete viewing
- Movies can be streamed or downloaded for offline viewing
- The movie app for tablets will be available in Android 3.1, and the app for smartphones will be available for Android 2.2 in a couple weeks
- Google’s answer to Amazon’s Cloud Player. Store up to 20,000 songs and stream them on the web and across all your Android devices.
- Music Manager, the software to upload songs to the new music service, is available on both Windows and Mac. Select specific folders or import libraries from iTunes or Windows Media Player.
- The web-based player is a full-featured music player, with search functionality, info editing, ratings and play counts.
- Created playlists will be available across all devices. The player can also create playlists automatically (Instant Mix) based on a single song or by picking other songs in your library that are alike or sound great together (like Apple’s Genius playlist)
- Recently played songs will be cached on your device, making them available to be played offline
- The service is free while in beta. An invitation is required and it’s available only in the U.S. (music.google.com/about)
New Guidelines for Faster OS Update
- Google will work together with manufacturers and carriers to determine how fast new OS updates will be available to consumers after they are released
- New Android devices will receive the latest OS updates for 18 months after the device is launched, provided the hardware allows this
Android Open Accessory
- New API to talk to hardware accessories
- When plugged in to a supported hardware, an Android device will show the app that will work with it. If the app is not installed in the device, the user will be redirected to the Android Market to download it
- The API supports only USB currently, but will also support Bluetooth in the future
- Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK) was released, comprising both hardware and software
- Demo accessories include an exercise bike controlling a game on an Android smartphone — and a labyrinth platform controlled by the gyro in an Android tablet
- Google wants to make Android the operating system for your home
- Google also wants to allow Android apps to discover appliances and devices in the home
- A new open wireless protocol is being developed for appliances that cannot connect to Wi-Fi — which will enable low cost connectivity with anything electrical at home, such as lights, alarm clocks, thermostats and dishwashers
- The potential was demonstrated by switching lamps on and off by using an Android tablet.
- Google is partnering with LightingScience to bring the first Android@Home-compatible light bulb to your home. It will be available by the end of this year
- The best part yet is CD cases with built-in NFC tags. Touch it once on the “Project Tungsten” hub and the entire album will be added to your music library. Touch it again and the album will start playing. My mom would love this. It’s just a conceptual product for now, alas. (watch the demo, it’s really cool)