Google I/O 2011 : Day one

Google’s annual developer conference got off to a phenomenal start with some pretty exciting announcements. As everyone had expected, most of them concerned its highly successful mobile OS, Android. But it did not stop there, Google introduced some exciting hardware technology that sounds like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie. The key note was centered around three major topics, Momentum, Mobile, and More. Here’s a look at the announcements that followed.

Google put a lot of emphasis on convincing developers that Android was a phenomenal success thanks to the Android community. They even put together an animated video showing that the  number of Android devices activated worldwide had reached 100 million units. That’s a phenomenal growth story for a platform that was introduced just over 2 years ago! They also made it a point to reaffirm that this was a community driven success story by saying that choice is what Google wants to give the world and working with the community has ensured the success of Android. There are over 310 Android based devices available in 112 countries and are manufactures by more than 36 OEMs, another point that Google stressed on. But the stats did not stop there. Google announced that it was now seeing 400,000 Android devices activated everyday! They also pointed out the growth of the Android market as a strong platform to compete with other app stores, and reveals that it has more than 300,000 apps available in the Android Market.  Another interesting statistic that was showcased is that it took Android almost 2 years to get their first billion downloads. The second billion took 5 months to come The last billion took just 60 days to come and the overall number of downloads has crossed 4.5 billion.

Honeycomb will receive and upgrade from version 3.0 to 3.1. Some upgrades include resizable widgets on tablets with easy portability from widgets designed for older versions of the system to Android 3.1. Another cool feature that this upgrade will bring is the ability to make your Android device act as a USB host, that means you can hook up a keyboard or mouse or even game controllers and more via USB to your tablet and use them straight away. Google TV too will get this upgrade along with Android Market,  Apps on Google TV!

Google also confirmed Androids next major release, Ice Cream Sandwich. Google will attempt to release the final version in Q4 of this year. Choice is what Android is good at and Google plans to unify the Android experience with a single OS across form factors with State of the UI for an improved user experience, new APIs for scalability across multiple devices and new developer tools. This is clearly an attempt to overcome the fragmentation problem that has been plaguing Android developers for some time now. Google also announced that even though it did not open source its tablet only Android version , Honeycomb 3.0, it would open source the next version of Android. Some of the interesting demos included the Virtual camera operator with facial recognition features.

Media and cloud are big businesses and Google is into both. Extending their mobile entertainment business to their Android OS devices is the next obvious move and as expected, Google announced the Music beta by Google services. The service will let users upload their music ( upto 20,000 songs free) to their free music locker and stream it to play it back across multiple devices. The service was launched with an invite only for U.S. users  and will be rolled out to other users later. The service does not let users download their music to their devices but allows a smart cache to store some of the most frequent and latest played songs for offline listening. The service will integrate with windows media player and itunes to upload music to the users cloud locker.
Another service that was announced was the movies rental straight from the Android Market . Movies will be rented for a period of 30days and will be available for offline viewing.

Google is determined to end the fragmentation problem of Android and is taking some strong steps to do that. The open handset alliance partnered with Google are drafting new guidelines as to when and how long Android devices will get updates of newer versions of Android. the founding partners include the major Android handset manufacturers and some of the network service provides too. New devices from these partner companies will receive Android upgrades for 18 months as long as the hardware allows it ( but it still does not say how quick the releases will be).

The more section was focused at some amazing and cool technologies that Android is expected to make its foray into. Google does not want to limit the openness of Android to software, hardware now gets some attention with the announcement of Android Open Accessory to enable hardware manufacturers to make accessories that will work with the fragmented Android hardware scene. APIs will be made available to make hardware devices that can talk to all Android devices.. A hardware guideline device was showcased to enable developers to make apps for different hardware devices too! A cool demo of the technology followed.

The Android project has huge ambitions with even wanting to run your home for you. The Android @ Home framework that was showcased at the developer conference. It aims at making every appliance in your home, even the ones without wi-fi connectivity, an extension of your Android device. There are some really interesting applications of this technology.
Project Tungsten, a standalone hub based on Android, has speakers and bridge capabilities. These devices connects to tablets and offer some interesting cloud functionality. An NFC and Tungsten concept demo followed.

The Android fun did not end there. All 5000 attendees of the Google I/O 2011 received a Galaxy Tab10.1, almost a month before the worldwide release.

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