Tech giant Google announced some big updates and new products today at its I/O developers conference in Mountain View, Calif. Among them are a new mobile operating system, a user interface for automobiles and a home automation and integration system.
Google hopes that these complementary products and interfaces will be the basis for a seamless experience across all of our devices including our cars and homes.
Here’s a quick rundown:
Google appears to be dropping the candy naming convention, opting to simply call its new mobile operating system Android L.
The most important new component is the visually striking Material Design, a new layered design interface with improved touch, 60 frame-per-second animated transitions and inter-app functionality that allows apps to open other apps.
For instance, when users search for a restaurant in Chrome and select an OpenTable link, it will open OpenTable instead of a new webpage -- a function Google is allowing developers at large to implement.
The look and feel should be familiar to most people who use at least one Google product. It incorporates the same visual elements like information tiles but is also switching from square images to round ones.
L also features personal unlocking via voice print identification or Bluetooth when a person’s smartwatch is in close proximity.
Android L is designed to work seamlessly with Android Wear, the system behind a new collection of smartwatches. Android Wear’s sensors allow the devices to be situationally aware in order to provide useful information -- such as weather alerts or reminders -- based on the time of day or a person’s location.
People can read and verbally respond to SMS messages, answer calls or decline them, and quickly send a pre-generated response like “Call you back soon.”
Most tasks can be voice enabled, including taking notes, which are automatically saved, playing music or setting an alarm.
The watches also have a built in pedometer so people can know how far they walk each day, compare them with past days and even check their heart rate. Apps installed on the corresponding phone install the watch’s component automatically.
Several of the new smartwatches can be ordered from the Google Play store today including a new watch made by Samsung. Motorola's Moto 360, with the round face, will be available later this summer.
Google users will soon have safer and easier access to all of the essential functions that people rely on when they’re in the car -- like navigation, communication and music --through something called Android Auto
People who plug their device into an Android Auto-enabled car will be allowed to control their phone through the car’s touch screen, with a user interface that puts those essential controls front and center.
Even though it feels like part of the vehicle, all of the apps are running from the person’s phone, personalizing the experience and improving it with every update.
Android Auto is also totally voice enabled. People can search for a place, ask for information about it and then navigate to it without ever touching a button. Auto also allows people to answer or decline calls and hear and respond to messages with just their voice.
Android TV, which will run on set-top boxes akin to Apple TV and Roku, is totally entertainment focused, presenting people with a host of content options tailored to their preferences and usage patterns.
Of course, Android TV can be controlled from Google’s new line of wearables and, like Chromecast, can play content streamed to it from a smartphone or tablet.
Devices will come with a gaming controller and people will be able to play multiplayer games across the Internet through Google Play Games.
Android Apps on Chrome OS
Google says it’s in the early stages of running Android apps from the Chromebook. The feature doesn’t have a release date yet but Google’s Sundar Pichai showed a Chromebook running Evernote, Flipboard and Vine.
One of the biggest challenges, Pichai says, is making an app design for touch run on a device that works with a touchpad mouse and keyboard.
A new suite of health-related apps for tracking fitness goals, heart rate and the like is coming to Android with partnerships with Adidas, Nike and other big names in fitness.
The fitness apps will work in conjunction with a person’s phone and watch to provide a fitness profile that can be accessed by other yet-to-be-developed fitness apps.