Android Is Coming for Your Car, TV, & Wrist
This year's I/O was all about bringing Android into the future and onto new devices. On top of announcing the upcoming "L" release of its mobile OS, Google showcased Android Wear, Android Auto, and Android TV.
With a unified design language and notification mirroring, the various iterations of Android across these platforms hope to offer a seamless user experience. Google envisions a world where you wake up to the alarm on your Android-powered phone, strap on your Android smartwatch, catch a glimpse of the news on your Android TV, then head to work in your Android-compatible car.
After being released earlier this year in the form of a developer preview, Android Wear is making its public debut. The Samsung Gear Live showed its face for the first time alongside the previously-leaked LG G Watch. Both are available for order now, with shipments beginning in early July.
On the software side of things, Wear devices attached to Android smartphones will automatically download and update any Wear-compatible apps that are installed on your phone. This cross-device functionality is extended to other aspects of the UI, including notifications and voice commands.
New APIs expose this functionality to third-party developers, allowing them to integrate features of their Android apps into Android Wear.
Cross-device continuity is present; in the recipe above, a swipe to the right on the watch scrolls the recipe on the phone.
And yes, these guys are all water resistant.
After forming the Open Automotive Alliance, Google has announced its new in-car platform dubbed Android Auto. Auto focuses mainly on allowing its users to interact with their devices either with minimal distraction from driving or completely hands-free.
The home screen of Auto offers simple at-a-glance info via Google Now, and voice commands can be executed with a dedicated hardware button on the steering wheel.
Maps and Navigation take center stage for obvious reasons, but an Android Auto SDK has made audio and notification functions available to third-party developers.
Alongside the SDK release, Google announced new partnerships with automotive manufacturers, bringing the Open Auto Alliance's membership up to forty. Cars with Android Auto built in are set to debut in late 2014 with the 2015 model-year, with Audi already announcing that their 2015 line will support Google's service.
Android Auto will piggyback off of existing Android apps on your smartphone much the same way that Android Wear will.
Riding the massive success of Chromecast, Google is looking to make another foray onto the big screen with Android TV. With a live-TV interface added to a more traditional home screen, users can search all content through a single engine.
Searches take place system-wide, so any service that you subscribe to is indexed for quick results.
The operating system, which will be available as a set-top box and as built-in Smart TV firmware (Sony is already on board), can be controlled by a remote, the Android TV app, or even your smartwatch.
A powerful graphics engine, when combined with Google's Play Games service, enabled high-definition multiplayer gameplay. Yup, you can beat your buddy at basketball on your TV, while they're losing to you on their tablet.
Android TV comes with Chromecast functionality built-in, so users can even cast content from their other devices to their TVs.
The various new versions of Android obviously stole the show, but other big announcements were also made.
Chromecast is getting a big update on the back-end. A new version of the Chromecast app for Android, which should be pushed as an update in the coming weeks, allows for adding more sources to the ambient background images of Chromecast's home screen. Personal photo albums and famous artwork are among the new background options, and a Google Voice Search of "what's on my Chromecast" reveals more info.
Google also announced a new ability to cast content to Chromecast without being on the same WiFi network. That means you won't need to hunt for your cryptic password to give you visitors; a PIN-based and user-controlled apparatus will also you to open your Chromecast to everyone without needing to share your WiFi credentials.
With the updated firmware and app, you will soon be able to cast your entire Android screen. Lots of work went into this feature behind the scenes to allow for high frame rate and picture quality, and as such, only a limited amount of high-end devices will support this feature.
ChromeOS is becoming increasingly popular with its simple interface and cost-effective hardware options. Google announced integration between Chromebooks and Android devices that will allow for notification mirroring.
In addition to more interoperability with Android, ChromeOS is also getting support for native Android apps. Google showed off Flipboard at the event, along with a demo of Vine.
Google Cloud services are getting better still, as Google announced its acquisition of a testing platform named Appurify. Along with a set of tools including Cloud Dataflow, Cloud Trace, Cloud Debugger, Cloud Save and Cloud Monitoring, Google looks toward big improvements in its cloud platform.
Google has partnered with Adidas, Nike, Noom, Runtastic, and Withings to introduce the Google Fit platform. By virtue of a single set of APIs, Google Fit will help users track and maintain their fitness data that has been accumulated from various wearables.
In the end, it was a big day for Google, even though two protesters interrupted the keynote speech on two separate occasions. I'm really looking forward to Android Wear and the new Chromecast functionality. What are your favorite developments from today? Let us know in the comments section below.