The Google I/O conference got off to a bang with some big announcements during its initial keynote presentation. In much the same way as Apple boasts about its successes in keynotes, Google was quick to tell the world that one million Android devices are activated every day and there are 400 million total. Here is what the Android app enthusiasts among us have to look forward to.
Android Jelly Bean 4.1
Google showed off their latest version of the Android operating system. There is a firm emphasis on speed and Google also revealed “Project Butter” which is aiming for the smoothest, slickest Android experience yet with very little device lag. They also touted some new features like offline voice typing, better home screen navigation, and demonstrated Android Beam for sharing content among fellow Android smartphone users.
The notification system in Jelly Bean has been improved with quick access to services within the pull-down notification from the status bar itself. Search features a new UI and better voice search capabilities. The company also touted its Knowledge Graph technology and its improved integration on mobile devices. Google Now takes into account your location, your previous searches and your favorite things to make sure it provides the most up-to-date and relevant results immediately.
Jelly Bean 4.1 will be available in mid July for select devices, but the SDK preview is available for developers immediately.
Google Play enhancements
Google Play now features 600,000 apps, and there have been 20 billion app installs. On the technical side of things, Google announced full encryption of apps to improve security as well as smart app updates. That means you only download the parts of the app that have changed instead of the whole app each time, which saves bandwidth and time.
Google announced a free cloud messaging system and will now offer both movie and TV show purchases, instead of just rentals. They have partnered with NBC, Sony Pictures, Paramount, Disney and ABC for this new TV and movie content. Google Play will also offer magazines, partnering with Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith and offering 14-day free trials of all titles.
Nexus 7 tablet
After many a leak and much speculation, perhaps it was no surprise to see the Nexus 7 tablet finally revealed. But now it’s official! Manufactured by Asus it will run Android Jelly Bean 4.1 and features a 7-inch 1280x800 display, Tegra 3 graphics chip and quad-core CPU. Google were quick to show off the tablet’s multimedia prowess showcasing TV shows, magazines and so on. Clearly, the cut-price tablet has Amazon’s Kindle Fire in its crosshairs, and Google was keen to stress content above the (admittedly good) technical specs the tablet offers.
The Nexus 7 also ships with Chrome as its standard browser and Google showed off some of its regular apps like YouTube with high-def videos optimized for the Nexus 7. Maps and Google Currents were both showcased and formatted perfectly for the tablet. Google demonstrated the tablet’s gaming power too, showcasing Horn with some amazing shadow and lighting effects and Dead Trigger with some realistic fog and water effects.
The Nexus 7 tablet is available to pre-order from Google Play today starting at just $199. You’ll also get a $25 credit to spend in the store on apps or content, plus a nice selection of freebies. Orders will be shipped in mid-July.
Google also revealed its first ever consumer electronics device, the Nexus Q. This intriguing-looking Android-powered social streaming black ball connects to all the media you have in the cloud (at Google Play) so you can stream it over your tablet, smartphone or TV. You can hook your speakers up to it and with its built-in amp, it can produce great quality output whether it be music or high-def 1080p video. Here's a video from Google about how it works:
Nexus Q is controlled via your Android smartphone or tablet. The device itself lights up different colors depending on what’s playing, and there is also a visualizer for your TV screen or tablet. In addition, your friends’ music libraries can be shared to your Nexus Q device, so everyone can become a DJ. If you have a movie on your device, you can stream it to the Q and continue watching from where you left off.
The Nexus Q is available to pre-order at Google Play for $299 and will be shipped out in the U.S. in mid July.