Jun 2nd 2015

Google I/O: The announcements that will change the tech ecosystem (yet again)

The Google empire has been redefining industries since first blazing onto the Silicon Valley scene in late 1998.  In May 2008 the company hosted its first software developer-focused conference, Google I/O (standing for input/output and “Innovation in the Open”) – an annual event that has since served to set the stage for what’s to come from one of the most influential companies of all time. This past week marked the eighth year of the conference, and without disappointment Google rolled out a series of announcements the ripple effects of which will transform industries beyond traditional tech, including fashion, retail and automotive.

Here are the major moves Google announced last week – categorized and filed under the pillars of business, technology, lifestyle and entertainment. Although it goes without saying that all of these announcements have crossover with other categories beyond those listed:

Business

  • Educating Professionals: Udacity and Google have teamed up to offer Android Nanodegree, the first engineering certification that has been created and certified by Google to allow professionals to become certified as Android developers. (Fortune)
  • Intelligent Cloud: To compete with Amazon’s cloud offerings, Google plans to differentiate itself by offering enterprises tools focused on analytics and intelligence in cloud computing. The company stated their strategy was focused on helping companies make the most of their data in the cloud. (Computerworld)
  • Digital Payments: Android Pay was introduced – pitting Google once again against Apple. The new digital payments system will enable online or in store purchases from retailers and other service providers by waving an Android phone at any of the 700,000 pay terminals – with fingerprinting and tokenization serving as the authentication mechanism. (The New York Times)

Technology

  • Android M: Google announced the new features developers will have access to with the next Android OS – among the noticeable additions are a fingerprint API, ability to pick-and-choose app permissions, “Doze Mode” for automatic detection of inactivity and battery conversation, automatic app backup capabilities and custom Chrome tabs for a more intuitive web browsing experience. (Arstechnica)
  • Smarter Inbox: Google has made their experiment in smarter email management available to everyone with the roll out of inbox – a gmail based app that can bundle together relevant information (such as travel details) and features the ability to recall any email within the first 10 seconds after you first hit send. (TechCrunch)
  • Connecting an IoT world: Announcing Brillo and Weave, Google advanced into the world of hyper-connected everything in a big way. The company plans for Brillo to be the “underlying operating system for the Internet of Things,” a lower level Android-based platform that will connect everything within a smart-home together through the cross-platform language, Weave. (The Guardian)

Lifestyle

  • Now on Tap: Making your life easier than ever is Google Now on Tap – the personal assistant app that has been infused with contextual awareness and machine learning abilities that border on “creepy,” according to several reporters who witnessed the capabilities. The app is designed to pull information, recommendations and answer questions based on the context of any current text conversation, song you may be listening to or general activity being performed on a device at that time. (The Verge)
  • Hi-Tech Fashion, Now in Platform: Going one-step further, Google announced their first platform for weaving technology into fabric – Project Jacquard. Partnering with Levi for the launch, fashion designers and garment manufacturers will now be able to create the clothes that are based on their own trendy design and can connect with smartphones and apps for new levels of interactivity. (Mashable)
  • Time to Accessorize: Google announced that Android Wear now has 4,000 specifically written apps for the platform and comes with 1,500 custom watch faces for Android Wear, and a total of seven different watches already on sale. Watches have also been upgraded to have always-on apps, screen lock and a new launcher. (Digital Trends)
  • Open Road: Driverless vehicles, connected cars and advances in navigation all made an appearance just before and during Google I/O. Hyundai announced they would became the first automaker to put cars with Android Auto on dealer lots, starting with the 2015 Sonata sedan and Google stated they would begin testing more driverless cars on the road in areas with tougher terrain and weather conditions. The company also upgraded Google maps with an turn-by-turn direction capabilities, even in offline-no data mode (Wired; TIME)

Entertainment

  • Cataloging Memories Simplified: Google Photos has launched under the aim to simplify storing and organizing images. The service comes with unlimited storage, allows for in-app editing, collage creation, animations and stories. Machine learning also allows the service to learn faces and organize images based on the people, places, or things over time. (The Next Web)
  • Video Access Gets a Boost: Google announced a partnership with HBO and new updates to their Google Play product – HBO Now will be available this summer through Chrome Cast and Android, while Play is set to roll out a new interface and “Family Star” badge that will indicate kid-friendly programs. (FierceOnlineVideo)
  • Virtual Reality (VR) for the Masses: Unlike recent competitor announcements, Google is aiming to make VR available to more people by developing cost-friendly software and products. The company announced Jump and Cardboard 2.0 – a new suite of VR technology that includes a new camera rig developed with GoPro, software that stitches footage from multiple cameras into seamless 360 degree film, a YouTube powered player for hosting and displaying the finished product and the updated low-cost solution that turned any smartphone into a VR headset. (Slate)

While many of these announcements won’t actually become available product for years to come, it’s certainly exciting to witness history being written right before our eyes.


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