Google I/O 13 kicked off yesterday with a marathon 3+ hr keynote capped off with the appearance of Larry Page himself. Not only did Larry give a speech but he also took question at the end which is something new. It was nice to see him there since just a few days ago he had announced publicly his issues with vocal cord disorder. But beyond that the Google developers conference this year was a bit different from last year. There was no flashy sky diving stunts. No announcement of a new version of Android. No real device announcement except the Google Edition of the S4. So what was the major theme of the keynote. It’s a developers conference and you know what, it focused on developers. Let’s dive in and get more specific.
The major missing feature of Google keynote was the lack of an announcement around a new version of Android. I think this was a smart move on Google to help catch up the community. Instead the major focus was on updating core Google apps, new API’s, and developer tools. That makes sense and is probably the best strategy at this point for Android. Fragmentation has been a real issue with Android and continuing to put out new versions will only make it worse. But concentrating on the core Google apps which can be updated for all Android versions gives everyone the same experience and is the right move. Also the developers will always be the key to Android growth and therefore it is important for Google to address their concerns.
There was a lot of announcement at the keynote and we’ll try to cover the majors ones. Probably could write about 3 blog posts about everything that was announced but here is a condensed version.
Google Play Games Services
This is a big one and very important. Using this new API all game data will be automatically saved in the cloud across devices. So you can start playing your game on one device and pick right up from there on another device. There is also multi-player abilities all on Google server with Google+ integration. There is leader boards as well. This update should really help push gaming on Android to a new level.
Streaming music service that will compete with Spotify and Pandora. Currently you get a 30 day trial with $7.99 before June 30 and $9.99 afterwards. Besides unlimited access you get a Listen Now feature and instant Radio mixes plus optimized recommendation.
Maps is getting a whole new look both on Android and on the web. This is a much faster and slicker map system with tons of new updates and features. To check out a preview and see all the new update follow this link.
Search has been updated with new cards. The big addition is reminders based on time and location. You also have real-time transit updates in select cities.
This is the long-awaited unified messaging app that replaces Google Talk and Messenger under one app. You can have multi-person chat, video, emoticons, images, and rich media.
This update is mostly around the web version of Google+ which has a new look with multi-column layout. You have the new Hangouts incorporated. There are new tools for image processing.
So far most people are developing Android apps using Eclipe IDE software. Although it’s a good software, its far from optimal. Google has now announced Android Studio as a new tool that is based on IntelliJ IDEA. This is going to be the tool to use for app development in the future. To download a preview version just head to this link.
These are some of the big updates but there are tons of other stuff as well. For example, the ability to send money to anyone through Gmail. It only required Google Wallet signup which anyone who has Google Play Store has probably setup. It’s free if you connect your bank account or 2.9% for using credit/debit cards. Google Books will now let you upload your own pdf or epub files. There is Google Play for Education with dedicated store and apps. Plus lots of other API and developer tools info. What did you think about the keynote address. If you want to watch a replay of the keynote then just hit play on the YouTube below and be sure to leave us your comments.