Google I/O is one of the key events in the digital and tech calendar, with all things Google up for discussion over the course of the two-day event. Whilst this year’s event didn’t quite have the killer announcements that we have seen at previous conferences, it nevertheless gave us a glimpse into Google’s ideas and ambitions for the future. Here are our five key takeaways.
Google moves into wearable tech
With wearable tech being the current hot topic in the gadget world, Google took the opportunity to announce its foray into the world of smartwatches.
Devices from LG and Samsung, which both feature square faces, are already on sale but the focus was arguably on the sleeker, round-faced Moto 360.
The models, which will all run the Android Wear OS, will include heart rate monitors, pedometers and the ability to activate and control your other Android devices through local authentication - you could use your Android Wear gadgets to automatically disable the Lock screen code on your smartphone or log you into your Chromebook.
Android Apps coming to Chromebook
In what could be a very big move for the development of Chromebook, Android applications will be compatible with Chrome OS.
At I/O, Google demonstrated how Vine and Flipboard would run on Chrome OS and, whist only a small number of apps will be compatible with Chrome OS initially, it does open up the possibility that third party applications will be able to run on the previously locked-down Chromebook.
Clever Google L design brings new usability and stronger ties to the web
The new Google L design is perhaps the most applauded element from I/O.
The new interface, which features (in Google’s words) “material design”, is focused on making mobile devices simpler. Fonts are designed to be clearer and easier to understand, developers will be able to use colours to highlight new and important content and animations have been completely overhauled to make it easier to switch between applications.
The new Android will also boast enhanced notifications, which will be sorted by relevance and importance, rather than chronologically. Users will also be able to read, open and dismiss alerts even from a locked screen.
Will Android Auto move out of the slow lane?
Google claims that around 40 car manufacturers have signed up, in one way or another, to Android Auto – Google’s attempt at dominating in-car tech.
With it, Google claims that developers have an opportunity to create a safe way of using connected devices while driving, allowing Google devices to display relevant applications and information (just as navigation, local points of interest, etc) onto an in-car screen that is easy to read and navigate whilst behind the wheel. Drivers will also be able to send and receive text messages using voice command features.
Take-up of the technology will, ultimately, depend on the sales of new cars although this does open up a potential market for third party and retro-fitted solutions.
Is Google moving away from hardware?
What we ultimately got from Google is an indication that they are becoming less interested in making the hardware but instead, powering it. Google will still sell products, but it seems that they are becoming less inclined to make them, or claim that they make them – something of a change from previous I/O events.
Where was the Nexus 7 / 10? What happened to Glass? This could be an indication that Google’s interest is in being “in” everything, rather than owning the whole pie.