This years Google IO 2013 keynote started off on a similar theme to previous years charting the rise of Android to a mighty 900 Million activations. However, that’s were the similarities ended, no neat new hardware, Android features or even skydivers were announced. This years keynote was aimed very much at Google services and updates to developer tools. Despite the fact that a new Android version was not announced at this time Android users are getting a lot more than meets the eye.
Android has suffered a fragmentation problem over the last three years. The latest and greatest Android features have taken over 6 months to reach consumers due to the tinkering manufactures add to each release. By providing new and updated services Google have side stepped the fragmentation problem providing most of these updates to Android users back as far a Android 2.2.
The only new hardware announced was that the company would be offering the Samsung Galaxy S4 with stock Android. This seemed to provide a stop gap until the next version of Android and the Nexus 5 arrive later this year. I did hold my breath for a moment that this was a magic Android version that supported stock Android and manufacturer customised android together but it wasn’t to be.
First and Foremost for Developers
Google IO is foremost a developer conference and several new services and updates were announced. Firstly was the announcement of Game Services to support progress, achievements and player matching compatible with Android, iOS and Chrome. Googles cloud messager also seen new features in particular synchronization across multiple devices. Location services were also updated to include new features such as position fusion battery friendly location finding, geofencing and activity recognition. Google Play has seen a revamp to aid personal discovery, not just for apps but for Book, Movies and Music. On the developer side new tools are included to help developers distribute and monitor apps.
Education, Google++, Music, Search and Maps
- Google Play for Education was announced a special variation aimed at the classroom distributing suitable education apps for teachers to in turn push to classroom devices.
- Google+ seen a stack of new features added. Foremost a major new column based design with dynamic transitions. Photography seen several new features no doubt ahead of the release of Google Glass. Several new tools are available for enhancing and sorting photos automagically.
- Google+ Hangouts was announced to unify previous Google messaging services. This will keep your conversations syncronized across multiple platforms and devices.
- Google Play Music All Access was announced a subscription bases streaming service to rival Spotify which will be available firstly to US users for $9.99mo.
- Google Now also seen updates in particular for hot words making it more conversation friendly. It was also announced Google Now would soon appear on desktops as Google Voice Search.
- Google Maps seen a visual overhaul with smoother graphics and search results integrated directly into maps
To conclude the keynote CEO Larry Page took the stage after a three year break due to a vocal condition. Page struck a positive note on how far technology had come, but at the same time was saddend at the current state of the industry. Page felt we had only reached 1% of what was possible through technology and his desire to create things that don’t yet exists. He finished with a Q&A session from the audience that covered a diverse range of questions from Glass to Android future.
You can watch the full keynote below: