The keynote to start this year’s I/O developer conference demonstrated Google’s power with quite a hefty chunk of lean muscle. After Annan was done showing off his legs, we got down to the good stuff! (photo withheld)
As usual, these type of public events command a sort of State-of-the-Union address on how Android has been performing lately. Here are the numbers:
While I agree that those numbers are impressive, they hold no value to me right now. I need Apple to release their numbers for comparison! That probably won’t happen before Apple’s WWDC in June unless they would like to send a very public and direct response in a press release.
Now that we know the current state of Android, what does the future hold? Three words: Ice Cream Sandwich. Yes, I could use one right now, too. They are delicious. But what Google is referring to here is one OS to rule them all! Google has decided to kick the Fragmentation Argument to the curb with the announcement that elements of both Gingerbread and Honeycomb will be combined into Ice Cream Sandwich. The future of Android is going to be one massive collection of API’s and SDK’s that will be unified between all Android devices: smartphones, tablets, and even Google TV. Speaking of Google TV, users can look forward to Honeycomb 3.1 coming to all Google TV devices. Honeycomb 3.1 is gaining certain features such as expanded task switching, resizable widgets, Renderscript (fancy page-turning in books), USB device support (mice, keyboards, gamepads), as well as the new Google Movie and Google Music products. Along with Android 3.1, users will also gain access to the Android Market. Angry Birds on your HDTV! Using an XBOX 360 controller!
In light of the major news of the day that Microsoft has acquired Skype, Google has also aimed its sights at providing a more unique video chat experience in the latest version of Honeycomb (which is currently available to Verizon Xoom owners, so go on and grab your update!). There are now API’s for accessing eye and face tracking, which would allow for certain visual effects to be applied to a face in realtime that is in motion. Another feature showcased a video chat camera distinguishing between who was talking and zooming in to the speaker’s face.
The next topic was everything cloud connected (cue In Flames). Google has unveiled work on Google Movies and Google Music services with heavy Market integration. Apps, book, movies, music… all in the cloud and instantly accessible from your PC and all your Android devices. Got a new device? Just log in, and you have your entire music collection at your fingertips. Rent a movie? Watch it immediately on your tablet or “pin” it (download it) for watching later when you’re on that long flight home. The Music service is currently in beta, and you can request an invite here. You can store 20,000 songs for free. Every last thing is done over the air. No wires, no cables, no syncing. HOW. AWESOME. IS. THAT.
The last section of the keynote went heavily into innovation and demonstrated just how great being open source can be. You may hear arguments in favor of Android as simple phrases such as “it’s open” yet not fully understand the importance of that without a proper example.
Let’s say you have your iDevice and you want an app that remaps a hardware button to take a picture. Program your app, read the Non-Disclosure Agreement, pay your licensing and developer fees, submit it to the Mothership, and cross your fingers. If it’s approved, then congrats! Download it before they change their mind.
Enter Android. Program your app, upload it to your device. Done. Got an Arduino board? There are now SDK’s for your Arduino! Sync your Android device to fitness equipment! Control the lighting in your home with Android@Home! All you need is a special light bulb, not a handful of cash and an iPrayer. No non-disclosure’s, no licensing, no fees, no restrictions. This is exactly why the Government has jumped on Android.
So, how does Google end a pretty successful keynote? By waking up everyone in the room with a FREE GALAXY 10.1 ANDROID TABLET! The 2nd gen Galaxy Tab’s hardware is roughly the same as the iPad 2, but in a lighter and thinner profile. All 5,000 in attendance are going home with one. Anyone else want to split a cab to I/O 2012 with me?