What’s the big news from Google’s conference?

November 11, 2014 : TECHFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

What s the big news from Google s conference

With the mobile industry now being so big, it seems no self-respecting company can get away with announcing new products with a quiet press release any more. No, these days, you have to have a big, fancy launch that packs hundreds of journalists into a room and dazzles them with special effects, pyrotechnics and expensive videos. And if you can pack in a range of announcements at one big event, so much the better (renting auditoriums is expensive, you know).

That's what Google has been doing this week at it's annual I/O developer conference. It may not have the most exciting name, but over 6,000 developers and reporters flocked to San Francisco to find out what the web giant has up its sleeve for the coming year.

So what was shown off at the event's keynote address that we can look forward to in the next few months?

Android on the move – new wearables

One technology Google was keen to highlight were the first smartwatch devices that use its new Android Wear system. This extension of the familiar mobile operating system has been tailored specifically to the needs of the wearable market. And with Apple still working on the development of its own much-rumoured iWatch, Google may just have stolen a march on its main rival.

The firm unveiled two devices running the platform – the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live – both of which are already available for pre-order. Google promises the devices will make users' lives  much easier, stating "your thumbs with thank you" for not having to scroll through a smartphone hundreds of times a day.

So what can you do with these smartwatches? Google explained: "You get the information you need, quickly at a glance. Just say 'OK Google' to ask questions or to get stuff done. Get alerted when it's time to leave for dinner. Call a cab to take you there. See the traffic on the way. Text a friend once you're seated. It's all right there, on your wrist, easy to see, right when you want it."

The next sweet thing

The conference also gave developers a chance to get their hands on the next major update to the Android operating system for the first time. Set to be released to the public this autumn, the update is currently known as Android L – but given the firm's history of nicknaming their platforms with dessert-related monikers, it's already been dubbed Android Lollipop by many people.

Central to the release will be what Google is calling 'material design'. This doesn't mean your next Samsung is going to come with a fancy leather or metal case – you'll still have to buy one of our Galaxy S5 leather cases for that. Instead, its about a combination of "tactile surfaces, bold graphic design, and fluid motion to create beautiful, intuitive experiences."

Google is hoping the new interface will be more intuitive to use and avoid some of the problems with fragmentation that's made Android tricker to use in the past – when every developer had their own ideas about how to interpret the style. This will in theory make for a more consistent experience and provide a familiar Android look, no matter what device you're using.    

Beyond the smartphone

But it's not just innovations for when you're on the move that Google's looking to show off this year. The company clearly has ambitions to get its products into every aspect of consumers' lives and there were a range of gadgets on show at this year's I/O conference to help make this a reality.

In the living room, for example, it was demonstrating Android TV, with promises to bring all the key features of the operating system to your 56-inch LED screen. "You can use voice search to find a live TV show, a good flick from Google Play, or a music video on YouTube. Plus, because it’s Android, you'll be able to play your favorite Android games, reimagined for TV and with a gamepad," the company said. 

Meanwhile, it also showed off Android Auto, which aims to offer a customised experience for when you're on the move. By hooking up an Android phone to a car with the technology, you'll be able to use turn-by-turn navigation from Google Maps, listen to playlists and radio stations through Play Music and see reminders from Google Now on the dashboard.

Google stated this will all be able to be controlled via a car's controls – making it much safer than fiddling around with a phone when you're on the motorway (which you really shouldn't be doing), with the technology coming to vehicles later this year.

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