5 Biggest Announcements From Google I/O 2014


What You Missed From This Year's Google I/O

Thousands of excited people flocked to San Francisco for Google I/O 2014, and a million more watched the live stream online. I/O 2014 came with a flurry of announcements, and though there were no Google-Glass-sized surprises dropped this year, fans still have lots to look forward to. Here’s the top five most important announcements of Google I/O 2014:

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1. Android One: Technology For The Developing World

While smartphones have become a cornerstone of the developed world, the same isn’t entirely true (yet) for what’s referred to as ‘the next billion’: the population of developing countries. The Android One project is a set of guidelines that facilitate the creation of low-price smartphones that can still run Google’s cutting edge software. The first of these Android One phones, which was demonstrated during I/O, is set to debut from Indian manufacturer, Micromax, this fall. The phone costs less that $100 to make, and will most likely be sold for less than $200 unlocked, allowing many more people access to smartphone technology.

2. Android L: What Android 5.0 Is Going To Bring

The long-awaited Android 5.0 was finally introduced, and for many, the reveal was one of the most exciting announcements at the I/O keynote. This new version of Android has been code-named Android L, and it’s a significant update to Android 4.0, not only because of a radical design change, but also because it will be the unifying, global UI for all newly announced Google devices. This means that all Google devices will be able to communicate and interact seamlessly with one another. Google explained their concept of Material Design, the foundation of the UI, which focuses on dynamic motions, animations, and a 3D-depth based interface that's more intuitive than previous incarnations. The concept is promising, but the update isn’t slated to drop for consumers until later this year.

Google's Material Design Concept

On top of that, lock screen and notifications settings on mobile have been revamped, while ART (Android Run Time) promises to double phone speed and performance. Also announced was Project Volta, a battery-saving system which will feature a 'Battery Historian', which tracks usage, and a 'Battery Saving Mode' which promises up to 90 minutes of extra battery life.

3. Android Wear: The Smartphone Experience Everywhere

Google i/o 2014 wearables With the announcement of three smart watches supported by Android L, Android Wear embodies Google’s focus on expanding Android's accessibility. LG, Motorola, and Samsung are all stepping up and collaborating with Google to bring notifications, apps, and features from your phone to your wrist. Android Wear is an important step up from existing smart watches, as the ability to integrate with Google hardware allows for access to Google Now’s predictive learning notifications and voice command ability. Google demonstrated one of the features that accompany this interaction: when the user is wearing their Bluetooth-enabled smart watch, their phone, tablet, or laptop recognizes their identity without the need for a security passcode.

4. Android Auto: Bringing Google To The Road

Google’s competition with Apple continues to heat up with the announcement of Android Auto, a system similar to Apple’s Carplay. Android Auto, set to debut this year, focuses on making driving easier and safer with optimized voice commands, integrated steering wheel controls, and an interface designed with drivers in mind. Android Auto will be compatible with car screens from a variety of manufacturers, and will, once again, be running Android L in order to integrate with other devices. Incorporating Google Now notification styles, Android Auto enables voice controls which allow you to send messages, access music, and work with apps from your phone or tablet.

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5. Android TV: Another Try At Google TV

Google TV was one of Google’s less successful endeavors, fizzling out over the course of three years. However, Google revealed that they’re trying TV again with the debut of Android TV, a streamlined and simplified incarnation packed with more features. Android TV, like many of the other devices announced at the keynote, focuses on ease of use through voice search, voice command capabilities, and Android L integration. It also features a strong emphasis on gaming with the new Google Cast, which will allow users to screen mirror from their Google devices to their TV. With Google Cast, users can stream anything to their TV, whether this be Chrome browser tabs, Youtube videos, or other desired apps.

Google Wants To Be Everywhere, Do Everything

Most viewers left this year’s I/O with an understanding of Google’s focus on making Android available everywhere: Google wants Android on your phone, TV, watch, and in your car, constantly answering to your beckoned call. While you wait for Android L and these other announced features, you can have a go at Google Cardboard - Google’s surprising informal take on Oculus Rift.

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