Google IO 2012 has just finished its Day 1 and what a day it was, Google announced a ton of new products and services, most of which, well in fact all, to be released in the mid July timeframe. Atleast in the US. So lets get to it.
Android 4.1 Jellybean
The keynote kicked off with talk of Jellybean, which is to be code number 4.1. Google also gave out some insane numbers, a massive 400 Million activations of Android, up from 100 Million last year, thats a total of a massive 800 million active Android users, in fact thats a million activations every single day. Sticking with numbers the Google Play Store now has 600,000 apps with over 20 billion downloads made. Google Android Jellybean 4.1 will arrive in mid July and will be straight on tablet devices on sale now, but no mention on Smartphones.
As for features announced, Google were pretty tightlipped about Jellybean, either that or it doesn’t do much, which could explain the 4.1 release name. They highlighted only 3 major features, and here are those features
Project Butter however wasn’t really discussed in too much detail, but essentially the touch experience on an Android Jellybean should be as “smooth as butter” lets just say, something we haven’t been able to say about Android much of before. Finally Android devices can be as smooth as their iOS and even Windows Phone counterparts.
Google announced a load of improvements coming in Jellybean including;
Notifications - Google Android was well ahead of all Smartphones when it came to Notifications, whilst some of it was scruffy it did the job much better than the competition, and when Apple released iOS5 with more or less the same exact model, it really showed how far Google had come with Android. With 4.1 Jellybean, Google have improved the experience even more with an all new Notifications UI. Some highlight features now include a Buttons for callback are included now within the notification drawer when a missed call shows up. Pretty neat. Notifications are now expandable. Essentially, it’s like putting widgets into the notification bar. They auto expand and collapse, and there is a lot of emphasis on functionality outside of the related applications. Google+ notifications can show up the pictures within the notification tray itself, for example. With the Pulse app you get Pulse news app notifications. Currently we just get a boring old message telling us there are new stories. In Jelly Bean, it’s pretty much as though the application itself is sat in the notification bar. Slick. Notifications just got a whole lot more interesting.
Offline Voice Typing - Not many people realise this, but whenever you use a Voice Dictation tool it actually sends everything you said out to the web to try and distinguish what you were saying, but in Android 4.1, Google are bringing Offline Voice Typing. This is a big feature especially in areas with no connection to the internet as it allows the same accurate voice dictation Android users are used to, but offline, finally. Unfortunately Offline Voice Typing is limited in availability at first with English US but more are to come, which shouldn’t take Google long seen as it already works with many more languages online.
New Google Search
Google showed a demo of Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and one of the many improvements includes much improved voice search features. The improved voice search includes functionality from their knowledge graph. For example, the presenter asked ‘who the Prime Minister of Japan’ was, the phone brought up Wikipedia and read who the Prime Minister is. He asked for pictures of marmosets and it brought up pictures of the funny looking creature. Whilst the improvements are good, and very welcome, and nice to have its nothing that new based on what Apple have been introducing but still very welcome and likely never used feature like with Siri itself but nice to see.
Google Play Store
Google did make some big improvements to the Google Play Store by adding movies, TV Shows and Magazines to the store which quite a vast amount of companies behind them. This is pretty much Google Play’s last catch up mission against Apple and the iTunes store and its a pretty big leap in terms of functionality in Google Play
And thats Jellybean, think its looking pretty good indeed and quite a solid upgrade from Ice Cream Sandwich ….. if you get it of course.
Google Nexus 7 Tablet
Google unveiled their own tablet, 7 inch tablet, the Google Nexus 7. The device is now one to ignore either its a very big device in a very small package. Priced at only $199 US dollars and £199 in the UK, its instantly comparable to the Amazon Kindly Fire in price, but in features it even outstretches the most expensive Android Tablets. featuring big Nvidia backing for games, and so much more, this is the first real competitor on Android against the iPad.
Here are some of the specs.
- 7-inch 1280 x 800 display Quad-processor
- Tegra 3 12-core GPU
- 8 GB and 16 GB models
- 1 GB of RAM
- 1.2 MP front-facing camera
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, gyroscope
- 9 hours video playback 300 hours standby 340 g
- Chrome as standard browser
- £/$199, shipping mid-July to US, Canada, Australia and UK
- Preorders available today Includes $25 credit in Google Play store, lots of preloaded goodies
Thats a very impressive tablet for the money
We thought they said Nexus Cube at first, but no, Nexus Q. Essentially a small Android powered computer thats constantly connected to the Cloud, integrated with Google Play, YouTube and likely more to come, think an Apple TV made by Google. We’re surprised its not running Chrome OS tbh, but no it runs Android. It uses technology similar to AirPlay allowing an Android phone or tablet to connect to the Q. The device is essentially a black cube, with rather pointless lights surrounding it, probably looks cool in the dark. Whilst the device doesn’t seem to have much in the way of its own storage, everything seems to run over the Cloud and relies on users having a Google device, but the cool thing is it allows multiple people to control it.
Like the Nexus 7 its to ship mid July. The Nexus Q will be available for US $299.
Now one year ago since Google introduced Google+, there competitor to FaceBook, which they think they’re on to something special, but if you look at the numbers, they kind of aren’t but fair enough. Love how all the demos are on Macs, yeah, who cares about Chromebooks. Google demoed a kind of cheesy demo of how people have been using Google+ to stream live content in Space and more using Hangouts, although the video kind of failed to play fully.
Google now have a massive 250 million people apparently on Google+, or at least have accounts, although with how much forced Google+ integration across Google services it will be interesting to see how many actually use Google+ now.
Updates were released by Google including a finally released tablet version of Google+ application for Android and iPad, as well as updated apps for iPhone and Android Smartphones, Google+ does look very unique by having the news feed going from left to right scrolling with a kind of marmite experience to be honest, you may love or hate this tbh. Hangouts built right in. The same features mentioned for the Android Tablet app, will be also coming for the iPad very soon, Android today. Sadly no app available for Blackberry or Windows Phone still tho. Mobile site still for you.
New Feature – Events - Google Events is a new tool coming to Google+ which allows you to invite people to a specific event thats going on, examples mentioned was weddings, and they demoed a brunch meeting, so American. When you do invite people to Events you get ‘cinematic themes’ for the events, also works if they are not on Google+. When posted users can hover over the post and see all new information about the event, including big integration with Google Calendar, as well as updates from the host included, even with live slideshows of the event and a feature known as Party Mode. Party Mode allows all guests to an event automatically upload photos whilst at an event, which sounds cool in concept but I can see most people never using this, sorry Google. For when the events have finished Google have allowed an Events Page to be created, which includes photos uploaded in chronological order, even if the photos were upload after others, based on tags from DSLRs or Smartphones. The first official Google+ Event was announced at the conference by Google and invitations were given out to all attendees, and even included Train and Paul Oakenfold.
Now for Google Glass. The demo of Google Glass went straight to Google doing a pretty daring Hangout using Google Glass of a man jumping out of an plane, and to land on the top of a building, yeah what could possible go wrong, but ended up being very engaging to watch, providing all your friends jump out of planes.Incredibly thought everything went according to plan so go them guys. Then they switched to some bike riders jumping down a building, which was pretty cool, and then they appeared on stage with the rest of them, that was actually pretty awesome!
Now lets talk about Glass. Google Glass if you’ve never heard of it, Google Glass are a pair of glasses that provide real world images, a webcam, microphone, and integration with the web and uses sensors found traditionally in high end smartphones. Personally I’ve never been interested in Glass, being a wearer of Glasses, the chances of it working for me are second to none, but for none glasses wearers its pretty cool I suppose. The display on Google Glass is actually above the eye, so don’t worry you can still see where you are going when you walk down the street. The Google Glass weighs about the same as traditional Sunglasses, which is awesome.
Google did announce some cool knowledge integrations with Google Glass, such as knowing how fast you’re going whilst cycling, essentially getting information without feel like you’re searching. They then showed a video of a Mum with a new baby and how using Google Glass can keep all those precious moments close to you now forever. Google also announced that they are working with some different designs for Google Glass, even showing someone wearing glasses also with a Google Glass, although as of yet we’re not convinced it can be that useful, yet.
Google did mention and rightfully so that they can’t really demo everything to us how really the only way you can experience it is to try and so announced a Glass Explorer Edition, a pre-orderable US only at Google IO attendees to try it out, and will be available for $1500, ouch, better be good. Shipping for the rest of us next year.
Freebies for Attendees
If you were wishing you were there this probably isn’t gonna help you. As typical Google IO, they gave all attendees a free Galaxy Nexus Phone, the all new Nexus 7 Tablet with latest OTA Jellybean preview and an all new Nexus Q device, can’t be bad. Thats free, for everyone, awesome!
But all in all, that was Day 1 at Google IO 2012. Personally I think this is all the announcements hardware and software wise, it will be interesting thought to see what the other days hold.