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Google I/O 2014

posted Sep 9, 2014, 1:32 PM by Barny CK

Google I/O 2014 took place on June 25th and 26th. The year 2014 is clearly the era of the internet of all things as demonstrated by Apple who held its WWDC earlier that month and Google is definitely on this bandwagon as well. This year's conference focused on wearables, automobile, TV and health. Google I/O 2014 was attended by 5000 participants. 

First up is Android L, the newest iteration of the mobile OS. Google has totally revamped the operating system to give it a new look. Visually, the icons are flat but layered and there is more cool animation beyond just showing a tapped button. Developers are given access into these features that allows them to control the grid, depth, colour and animation  of their apps. 

Director of Engineering for Android, Dave Burke demonstrating the Android L functionality.

The next category is Android Wear and Google brought the Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch to showcase Android Wear's capability. There were many demonstrations and Google constantly reiterated the relevance of a wearable and the deep potential that existed in this device. Google stressed the importance of pushing vital information only when you need it, such as notification to catch a flight and the flight details. Another important element of Android Wear which I think truly hit the nail on the head is a security feature. When an Android smartwatch linked to a smartphone is near each other, the user do not need to key in security code or use security gesture but when the phone is far away from the watch, then the security input is needed and it kinda makes sense. 

In anticipation of Apple's CarPlay, Android Auto was showcased. I thought this segment was hastily put together because the demonstration was a bit messy. As typical of most smart car gadgets, Android Auto showcased tun by turn navigational app but in a rather smart twist to this system, the app is not embedded in the car's hardware but rather streamed from the phone. This feature thus allow many other apps to be streamed into the car, including radio or music streaming. 

After Android Auto comes the biggest announcement in the keynote; Android TV. Smart TV is fast becoming a standard and Google wants in. Being Android, you can bet Google has integrated Android TV with their Android devices like the tablet. One example is by bringing the tablet gaming experience into the living hall. Players can use their tablets and play a game with, say, another player on the TV. Google also announced SDK for Android TV so developers can write games or apps for the TV. 

The last segment of Google I/O is the unveiling of the Google Fit Platform. The Google Fit Platform lets you keep track of your health and fitness and it allows all third party apps from independent developer to communicate with each other for health related data like your heartbeat rate. This platform is actually a tie-in with Android Wear as it is actually the wearables that will collect the heartbeat rate and etc. 

In conclusion, this year's Google I/O feels a little like a reactionary to Apple's WWDC as all topics and segments seem to mimic Apple. For the first time in 3 years, Apple is leading the way and not Google but while Apple is blazing a path, it is Google who actually has a system that encompass all consumer products, be it Samsung, Motorola or LG. It seems that the battle of Apple vs Google is too similar with Apple vs Microsoft in that each party, although on the same path, have very different ways of accomplishing it. Will it be Apple's all-products-in-one-ecosystem or will it be Google's good collaboration with all key players to create a conducive but myriad products in the ecosystem? Only time will tell.