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Android, Android Everywhere: Highlights from Day One of Google’s I/O
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Android, Android Everywhere: Highlights from Day One of Google’s I/O

With Android projected to be present in 80.2% of mobile devices by year’s end, it's no wonder Google wants to mak...

Android, Android Everywhere: Highlights from Day One of Google’s I/O

With Android projected to be present in 80.2% of mobile devices by year’s end, it's no wonder Google wants to make it a universal platform for users to explore and exploit. At its annual I/O developers conference, taking place June 25-26 in San Francisco, Google is introducing products and devices on which Android will be (omni)present. Here are the highlights from day one:

 

Android Smartphones on the cheap

Google's head of Android, Sundar Pichai, got things off to a brilliant start by announcing a cheap, 4.5-inch smartphone aimed at emerging markets. Sales of the Android One will kick off in India, with a price tag of under $100.

 

 

Android Material Design – not just for mobile

When Google began building for mobile, they had to start thinking about less of everything, as they put it. Now that Google is taking up new forms with Android, less is no longer an option. Google has introduced “Material Design” at this year’s I/O, a design language that stretches across the web, Android OS, and Chrome. The Material Design packs splashing colours on a minimalistic layout, where you can easily slide over boxes of notifications or tasks.

 

 

Android L – developer preview of an evolving platform

Google gave a sneak peak at the new Android version, dubbed the L.

 

1) The L will work across cars, TVs, and smartphones, with the now unified Material Design.


2) Notifications will be improved – users can access their notifications directly from the lock screen. The L will also include “Heads-Up” notifications that will appear in a small box over full-screen apps and which can be dismissed with a single swipe, without ever having to leave the app you’re using.


3) Users can authenticate their Android devices if they have Android wearables. That way, if your smartphone is near your smartwatch, the phone won’t bother asking for an unlock password. If your smart wearable is away from the phone, the smartphone will ask you for an authentication key.

 

 

4) Multitask away with the new “Recent,” which now includes Chrome tabs, together with the apps. Recent's user interface has a card-like design, and since L sees Chrome tabs just like apps, users can effortlessly switch between tasks.


5) Google has a new runtime that completes application instructions, called ART. While Dalvik was the previous Android runtime, ART has reported better performance and battery life of the OS. With the L Android version, ART will become the default runtime engine.


6) Google is utilizing new tools for monitoring users' battery life. The new Battery Saver mode can be activated manually, or users can adjust certain features when battery life is low. Users can see what has used up the device's battery, and can schedule tasks accordingly.

Developers will be able to download the L this fall, in advance of the general public.

 

Android Wear

The smartwatch is finally here! Goole presented its Android wearable for the first time. The watch lets users glance over messages, notes, music, alarms, and health trackers with the help of Google Now. Google has been testing out how Android could work on smartwatches, partnering with electronics manufacturers, like LG and Motorola. Google exhibited two models at I/O day one, both of which are  available to order – the LG G and the Moto 360. The latter will be available sometime this summer, while the LG model is already up for grabs.

 

 

Android Auto – Google in your car

Google believes it's better to stay connected whilst you're in your car, without having the need to take your eyes off the road to glance at your smartphone. Now, Android Auto will turn your car's dashboard into a mobile device that you can tap to get to any app you need. You can also use the voice control to play music, send messages, set reminders, and navigate easily with Google Maps. Google has partnered up with leading automakers to make Android Auto possible, including Chevrolet, Audi, Chrysler, Audi, and Bentley. Android Auto is slated to arrive before the end of this year, along with Android L.

 

 

Android TV

Google has been preparing to dip into the entertainment sector with its own TV set-top box, which was dubbed Android TV a few months ago. Now, it’s finally here! Android TV gives you support for your apps (Netflix, iHeartRadio, Google Cast), media services, and Android games (yes, games!). Developers can make their own games for the TV, and use their own tablets or phones as game controllers. You can search for content with voice commands, or ask general questions on entertainment, just like you would on your phone.

 

 

Android on your desktop

  • Android apps will come on Chromebooks later this year, and you can even use your hardware with them. But since there's no touch interaction, you'll have to drag and drop in order to navigate

  • As announced, Google did a preview of the Google Kit platform, which will feature apps and trackers that feed data to this health service. Google is said to be partnered with big names like Nike, Basis, and Adidas. Developers can access the software kit in the weeks to come

  • Google Docs will now allow you to edit your Microsoft Office documents. Simply upload your files to Google Drive and edit them directly on the Android apps

 

 

Is there a better way to end a three-hour conference than putting on square cardboard-made goggles? The conference attendees were given these and suggested that they pair that with an Android phone, so that they could make themselves a make-do virtual reality headset-- the perfect ending to the first day of a conference chock full of game-changing innovations.

 

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