IO 2014: Google pushes Android everywhere. What’s in it for developers?

After Apple, it was Google’s turn to host its iconic developer conference. At its IO 2014 event earlier this morning, Google’s ambitions were clear. It wants to have its footprints all over your car, body, living room, to your laptop and, of course mobile, while making sure to have a continuity. The company announced a bevy of new products and new integration across them.

Android One

Android One
Chrome and Android Chief, Sundar Pichai took to the stage to announce Android One, a reference model that will allow manufacturers in developing countries to make cheaper — $100 — smartphones. Starting with India, nation’s biggest mobile maker, Micromax will make a 4.5-inch phone, which will get direct updates from Google. Karbonn Mobile and Spice will soon jump on the board.

Android L


The latest update to Google’s Android operating system, Android L was finally announced. Sporting a new “material” design, the platform now supports 64-bit architecture. The notification system has been enhanced and will now allow people to interact with applications without having to launch them.

There is a new feature “heads-up” notification that will allow you to act on a notification without stopping what you were doing. It will also work from lockscreen. Speaking of lockscreens, Google says that now you won’t have to type out the whole password, as the device will automagically try to recognize and authenticate your presence.

The new version also features new animation capabilities, and the ability to add an illusion of depth including effects like ripples. It leaves a shadow like effect everywhere, it’s kind of amazing. Thanks to the grid-based layout, developers will be able to design for one device and have it easily ported to other sporting varied screen sizes.

Starting today, developers will be able to download Android L aka Android 5.0.

The Mobility


The mobile browser Chrome will prompt cards instead of showing up search results when you make queries on Google. Interestingly, the tabs you have open on your Chrome browser will be considered as apps. Google wants to make the switching between what your browse on the Web and the apps you interact with on your phone lined up together. New APIs have been made available that will populate multiple tabs.

Furthermore, Google is now allowing developers to bring the search functionality to be used from within the apps. A new API will remind you of all the previous actions you have done in an app.

Android isn’t known for its great battery life. Google announced a new tool called Battery Historian that will monitor for the things that are affecting the battery life. Google says it will improve the battery performance by up to 90 percent.

Android Wear

Android Wear

Earlier this year, Google announced Android Wear, an operating system for wearable devices. At the event, company finally demonstrated it. It syncs with your mobile, and understands your voice, you can ask it to remind you of something, and it will set a reminder on your phone. It supports notifications — in fact, it will bring majority of your smartphone’s notification — including calls to your watch.

It will push all the important contextual information to your watch. Whether it is a flight you have to catch, or a hotel reservation, everything will be beamed to you via your watch. There is a Play API that lets you repeat an action over and over again. For instance, if you ordered a pizza a few days ago, you will be able to order it again from the same place without having to go through all the trouble. The full Android Wear SDK is available today.

Android Auto

We saw the self driving cars before, today, Google officially announced Android for your car. Bringing Android services and app to the automobile, Google is offering navigation, communication and music at your fingertip.

While everything is running on your phone, you will be able to mirror it on your car’s screen. The car controllers will be interacting with Android. Google is bringing — what has become company’s motto over the last few years — personalized experience — to car as well. Which means whether it is your car, or a friend’s or rented, the experience you will be provided will remain the same. Google Play is fully voice enabled.

And while you’re driving, you will be able to see phone notification — heads up notifications and incoming messages on the car screen.

Google says the Android Auto SDK will soon be made available to developers, allowing them to make apps for the car. There are two kinds of APIs — Audio and Message. While Audio APIs lets you listen to music, podcasts etc, the Messaging APIs will determine what texts you’re seeing on the car screen. And, these APIs are talking with each other, meaning, you will be able to respond to a text by voice.

Android TV

Android TV

Before we get to this, let’s take a look at company’s past attempts to get inside your TV. Back in 2010, it released Google TV, which failed miserably. Two years later, Nexus Q, a streaming service couldn’t find any takers.

Introducing Android TV, which neither is a set-top box, nor a streaming service. What it does is allow you to run several streaming services – Netflix and YouTube and its own content from the marketplace to your big screen. It allows you to control it from your Android phones, tablets, and even Android Wear.

Support for Chromecast, a USB dongle it released a couple of months ago that allows you to mirror your phone/tablet/Web browser’s content to a big screen, has been enhanced. Now you will be able to mirror your phone’s content as well.

Having Google services on your TV has its own benefits. For instance, you ask for a movie or show via voice command to your mobile, and the content becomes available on your TV. Can’t remember where else you’ve seen that actress? Ask Google, and the search results will appear at the sideways of your TV. And, not to forget, you can play games — especially multiplayer games on it as well.

The Google Cast support is now coming to other devices as well. The SDK is available for download.

Chromebook and Android integration


Hands-down, it is easily one of the biggest features you should care about. Recently we talked about how Chromebooks have evolved and could easily replace your Windows laptops. The company has bigger plans. It is now bringing native Android support to Chromebooks. Which in simple terms mean, that you will be able to run Android apps on your Chromebook.
Check your phone’s notification on your laptop, get notified when your phone’s battery is low.

Opening up Gmail API

Google has now made Gmail service more accessible to other apps. It dropped the 1970 standard IMAP, a complex way for other apps to communicate with email services. This will now allow other apps to interact with Gmail. For instance, a travel app will be able to scan through your emails to keep you posted with your ticket booking information. “Gmail wants to be the inbox of choice for everyone,” said, Alex Jones, general manager for consumer anddeveloper solutions . “If they can make a strong platform for users and developers, there’s no reason to stray to rival services.”

Google’s take on your fitness: Google Fit

Much like what Apple did with its Health Kit service, Google will be bringing all the health related information from multiple sources — apps to one place. Company has released Google Fit APIs that will allow several apps to interact with each other and share fitness activities — with user’s consent, of course.

Game developers, Google says that it will soon beef up its Google Play Games platform. But no information was provided at the event. “We aren’t building a vertically integrated product, we are building an open platform at scale,”, said Pichai.

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